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Stop with the finger-pointing

2 minutes read

When your website fails to meet accessibility standards, tensions will run high. The different levels of your organisation will start with the finger-pointing.

Top executives often blame the web developers and designers. After all, they're the ones who didn't properly implement accessibility guidelines. The developers fight back, arguing that management never properly trained them or allocated enough resources for accessibility.

And when these two groups get together, they frequently agree the middle managers are the cause for the inaccessible website. They failed to effectively communicate accessibility as a priority and make sure the developers had what they needed to get the job done.

Throughout all this finger-pointing, the customers are the ones who truly suffer from the inaccessible website.

My advice is to stop with throwing the blame.

All the stakeholders, the top, middle managers and the web staff, all need to sit down together and plan to take concrete steps to improve website accessibility moving forward.

For executives, this means truly prioritising accessibility from the top-down and allocating proper funding for training, tools and ongoing testing. One question I always ask is "What budget did you set aside this year specifically for accessibility?" More often than not, accessibility doesn't get its own line item on the budget.

Middle managers then need to get accessibility training themselves before rolling it out to their teams. I usually sit them down and guide them to implement clear processes they can apply throughout the SDLC.

The designers and developers might require hands-on training and workshops. I remember from my development days how important it was having plenty of examples for accessible web components, image descriptions, intuitive navigation or using proper headings.

Once we get everyone on the same page, the entire web team regularly audits the website using both automated and manual accessibility testing. We triage and assign any issues to the responsible parties.

When we're all in the same boat, we can't point fingers any more.

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I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

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