The enterprise continues to hire and onboard people without experience in accessibility.
At every level, product owners, designers, developers and testers have inadequate training or knowledge of accessibility. Meanwhile, your organization’s onboarding processes don’t alert new team members to requirements.
What this looks like
The same issues are repeatedly showing up in production as the revolving door of new employees, contractors and vendors contribute and compound accessibility issues to products.
Time invested in coaching yields no widespread results. The moment you have a breakthrough with a team that becomes very alert to accessibility, a new team arrives to take their place.
Exploit your constraints
If the enterprise can’t support shifting accessibility to the beginning of training and development processes, you’re not out of options.
Don’t despair. Instead, shift your focus where it can do the most good.
Emphasize alertness over mastery
Don’t expect everyone to become a subject matter expert in their short tenure with the enterprise.
Instead, focus on socializing basic accessibility alertness into onboarding programs which includes knowing how to use acceptance criteria and when to ask for help.
Find bottleneck opportunities
Exploit gated bottlenecks where precise requirements can be instituted that will affect work upstream. While not ideal, it can have a huge impact.
Design review processes
If there are consistent design peer review sessions, use these sessions to become acquainted with product owners and designers. They can be great sources of information and influence.
Acceptance criteria demo sessions
Agile processes often include a sprint demo or story acceptance session where accessibility issues can be called out.
Add a requirement that demos be performed with assistive technology like the keyboard or screen reader.
QA testing stages
QA testers understand the principles of compliance and documentation of issues. If you can only influence one piece of the software development lifecycle, this is a good candidate.
Add a policy that requires QA to be provided acceptance criteria for accessibility, just like any other story.
A release manager makes the final decision before code is deployed to production. If an accessibility testing go/no-go status can be added to their process, this can have an effect upstream.
If that doesn’t work
Follow escalation procedures
If your leadership knows the situation, legal counsel has advised them on the risks and there’s no change, understand that the enterprise has deliberately chosen this path.
Weigh your future options
Recognize that it’s not your responsibility to fix the enterprise from the ground up, and your role has shifted from coaching to perpetual remediation project management.
Option 1: Settle in
If you enjoy the work of producing assessments, reporting and remediation, then settle in. You’ve got a great job locked in, so enjoy the job security and be really nice to everyone.
Option 2: Move on
If you don’t enjoy the work, update your resume and find the right environment where you can have the impact you want.