Recently we wrote some of the elements to consider when making the business case for improving digital accessibility, covering various factors such as the risk, commercial and usability benefits. As we have continually argued on this blog, the business case for improving digital accessibility is crystal clear.
Despite the argument for improving accessibility being overwhelming, many organisations are still slow to act. Sometimes to pave the way for a successful and more formal business case process, you need to a tactical approach to drawing attention to the importance of the issue. Increasing awareness is key. In this article we are going to cover ten tactics to help drive more awareness of digital accessibility.
Digital accessibility is an issue that impact more than just the responsibilities of the digital marketing team; it’s always worth reaching out to other stakeholders and functions within your organisation who should also want to ensure digital accessibility is getting the attention it deserves. Your legal and risk team will want to ensure you are working towards compliance. The person responsible for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) will want to ensure accessibility aligns with your D&I policies, and your HR function will want to ensure employee with disabilities are catered for. Can you work together to help move digital accessibility up the corporate agenda?
A strong tactic to raise awareness of accessibility is to highlight the views of users with accessibility issues about how they actually experience using your website. Using quotes and stories makes the issue of poor digital accessibility more real and tangible, and not just a compliance issue. For example, you could ask a customer known to you or an employee or colleague who has a disability to give you feedback; this can resonate more strongly than a PowerPoint with numbers on it.
Sometimes it is just best to get on with improving digital accessibility, particularly if you cannot get the support from senior stakeholders. Many of our clients have leveraged the low cost of Sitemorse to improve accessibility by just going ahead working through issues, with progress reflected in improved accessibility scores or a better position on our quarterly INDEX benchmarking tables. When this happens, celebrating success and highlighting progress to your stakeholders not only puts your team in a good light, but draws attention to the issue of accessibility and what can be done, and is a possible argument for further investment. Everyone likes to hear about positive action, and stakeholders may also be able to see the potential for more ‘good news’.
If you are not in a position to celebrate success, you can also draw attention if you are doing really poorly on accessibility and highlight the need for urgent action. This tactic works best when you can show you are doing considerably worse than your main competitors; this can galvanise some people into action! Because Sitemorse’s automation is all done remotely, you can easily compare your own score to other sites you choose and also use the INDEX to show where your organisation compares with peers in your sector. Bad news may be good news for an eventual business case.
If you have some kind of regular monthly management reporting on web or digital channels, you can start to raise awareness of accessibility by reporting it on there. This may pique the interest of senior stakeholders or at least get them to start noticing the issue. It is also a good place to highlight either progress or a lack of progress.
An unfortunate fact about internal support functions is that sometimes the business does not listen to their advice until it is somehow validated or stressed by an external expert. If this is the case, then it may be worth trying to get an external opinion. There are ways to do this, for example bringing in an external speaker for a knowledge sharing or “lunch and learn” session or including accessibility as a topic in any external review of your website. The message you may have been giving may be loud and clear, but sometimes it needs to be echoed from another voice.
Sometimes it is possible that just submitting a business case for improving digital accessibility is a good way to help spread awareness. There may be a formal review process for proposals that means the decision-makers you need to influence will need to consider your arguments; this could be the quickest and most direct way to influence their thinking.
Another tactic is to focus on the risk elements around compliance. In risk averse organisations and in regulated sectors, this is where people are most likely to listen. There is plenty of ammunition here to find including the individual requirements and recommendations from regulators, the potential rise in legal cases and what the law actually states. On this latter point it really helps to be well-informed; for example, download our new guide to accessibility and the Equality Act is a good starting point to enable conversations.
A strong way to raise awareness and knowledge at least across your digital team and content community is to embed improving accessibility as a standard part of normal content management processes. This is a more ‘organic’ way of spreading the word but can be very effective and is actually the best way of actually making progress. For example, elements of Sitemorse such as prioritised notifications, embedded help videos, the ability to assess the accessibility of a page there and then, and even integrate the experience of Sitemorse into your CMS means that improving accessibility is just something that happens when content is updated. It means your team will be far more aware about digital accessibility and this could in turn influence your stakeholders.
There may be many other initiatives going on in your organisation that arguably a move to improve digital accessibility should be part of. For example, a D&I initiative, a digital improvement project or even a digital literacy programme could include an element to do with accessibility. Can you “piggy-back” off another initiative to drive forward improvement?
It has never been more important to get accessibility on the agenda in order to make any necessary improvements. We hope this article has given you some useful ideas to start some meaningful conversations!