Manage Accessibility through Organizational Policy

Common responses to accessibility issues have involved fixing issues on an as-needed, or ad hoc, basis and retrofitting accessibility into existing products and services. To avoid addressing accessibility in this manner, organizations should look to establish an accessibility policy. An organizational accessibility policy will not only increase and promote accessibility awareness within the organization, but it will help organizations avoid legal and expensive consequences of ad hoc remediation.

When developing an organizational policy, organizations should start with the following:

  1. Select an accessibility standard: Choose an industry standard, such as Section 508 or WCAG 2.0, with which the organization will comply.
  2. Define best practices: Once the standard has been chosen, identify best practices the organization will utilize to comply with the industry standard.
  3. Choose a storage format for best practices: The best practices chosen should then be stored within a specialized system or database for those within the organization to access. This will function as a guide that presents information about the best practice as well as established criteria used to evaluate products and services for accessibility.

Other components for establishing a successful organizational accessibility policy should involve:

  • Leadership: Identify top leaders within the organization to plan and oversee accessibility efforts, and select other accessibility leaders to manage projects and initiatives.
  • Human Resources: Hire people with disabilities throughout the organization and people with accessibility expertise.
  • Accountability: Develop internal accessibility policies and publicize the organization's commitment to accessibility.
  • Funding: Create a budget for accessibility planning, testing, training, services, and software.
  • Training and Education: Provide ongoing training opportunities in accessibility and reference materials to employees.
  • Quality Assurance: Conduct accessibility tests for existing products and services and create a long-term quality assurance plan.