Despite a product team having access to an an accessibility assessment, there has been little to no action on solving issues.
Remediation isn’t seen as valuable work. The team almost always prioritizes new features over fixing old bugs.
How to help
Use leadership to set boundaries and hold teams accountable based on your reports.
Report progress to leadership
Every product should have a compliance target. If the product isn’t meeting that target, it should be quantifiable and reportable to leadership.
Report early and often so that if escalation becomes necessary, your leadership team isn’t caught off guard.
Be sympathetic (as long as possible)
Remember: behind each “issue” is a person that isn’t getting the support they need to do something about the problem.
It’s exceedingly rare to come across a team that openly doesn’t care about people with disabilities, but it’s common to find people who aren’t given capacity or tools or resources to learn, remediate or test.
Research the team history
Rather than accuse or become frustrated, first ask questions about the following:
- When were the assessment results delivered?
- Compare this to remediation timeline policies
- Was anyone here to help the assessment be interpreted and prioritized?
- If not, would that help?
- Has there been turnover in team management since then?
- Priorities may have been lost in the transition
- Are the product owners aware of the policy targets and requirements?
- This could simply be an awareness issue
Identify what’s lacking
Is the lacking ingredient capacity, alertness or motivation?
Behind every team that’s not meeting its goals is some support that they’re lacking.
If it’s capacity, that means either a) more team members must be included or (more likely) b) work will need to be re-prioritized to accommodate meeting accessibility targets.
There are many reasons a team can be numb (instead of alert) about accessibility remediation.
Most commonly teams view accessibility assessments as another legal disclaimer requirement, rather than a functional feature of their product.
Some teams don’t know what to do, where to start or who to ask for help and simply do nothing. They’ve missed or ignored any communications about accessibility, and need to start from the beginning.
Other teams will simply be overwhelmed by the sheer number of issues. Imagine receiving a spreadsheet containing hundreds or thousands of cryptic issues.
Emphasize the coaches are interested in accessibility alertness over mastery, are there to help explain functional requirements, why accessibility matters and how to prioritize remediation efforts so they can meet their policy targets.
When a team continually chooses to work on other features, this is an indication that they lack incentive to remediate accessibility issues.
Escalate these issues with leadership, communicating up the org chart until the team’s priorities align with leadership priorities.
If this doesn’t work
As always, don’t be the police.
If a team continues to resist, follow your team’s escalation procedures and leverage leadership to define priorities.