Why this matters
Remediation isn’t fun. Teams will almost always prioritize adding new features over fixing old bugs.
Use leadership to set boundaries and hold teams accountable based on your reports.
How to help
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
Ask questions about
- When were the assessment results delivered?
- Was anyone here to help them be interpreted and prioritized?
- Has there been turnover in team management since then?
- Are the product owners aware of the policy targets and requirements?
Identify what’s lacking
Is the lacking ingredient capacity, alertness or motivation?
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, moving up the org chart until appropriate motivation appears.
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.