Tactics

Tactics are actions taken to satisfy the strategic goals

Why this matters

Tactics are what an organization does to satisfy the strategic goals.

Tactics should be measurable and adaptable over time as results become evident.

For example, an email newsletter is a communications tactic. Open rates and click through should be tracked to understand its consumption and effectiveness.

Implementing a quality gate is another tactic. Compliance statistics from that gate should be reported to leadership for improvement or escalation.

Without measurement tracking, it will be impossible to know if that tactic helps satisfy strategic goals.

Putting out fires

If your accessibility efforts originate with a customer complaint, then this is where you likely need to start.

Remediate defects or redesign features by priority

Remediation can be very painful for teams. It may require re-prioritization of time from feature development to bug fixes. It will be natural for a team to just want to do the minimum to achieve compliance and then move on with business as usual. But your work with leadership and policy development will help change the long-term trajectory.

Resolve any customer complaints

When a complaint is informal, and simply lodged with your organization, you should let the customer know the problem has been resolved and thank them for their feedback.

If the complaint came as a threat of an ADA lawsuit, resolution may be more complex, involving a negotiated agreement or even financial settlement.

Gathering data

Acquire product wide accessibility assessments

There are many contractors who can provide manual and automated assessments.

Features to look for

  • Manual assessment should include a spreadsheet that can be imported into a project management system.
  • Automated assessments should be produced from tools your organization can access for follow up reports.
  • Ability to perform validation assessments for comparison once remediation work is complete.

Survey teams and processes for accessibility best practices

Study the processes for each component of your product. Different lines of business, deployment methods, technologies and partners all impact the way products are produced. There may not be a one-size-fits-all approach within your enterprise.

Key areas to survey

  • Funding processes
    • Is funding set aside in budgets for UX research for people with disabilities
  • Requirements design
    • At what stage are functional requirements set?
  • Acceptance criteria
    • Who sets acceptance criteria for functional testing?
  • Product owners/managers
    • Familiarity with accessibility best practices
    • Knowledge of accessibility acceptance criteria
    • Familiarity with assistive technology
  • Designers
    • Familiarity with accessibility best practices
    • Level of collaboration with developers
    • Familiarity with assistive technology
  • Developers
    • What is the “Definition of ready/done” for developer teams?
    • Familiarity with accessibility best practices
    • Familiarity with assistive technology
  • QA Testing
    • How do QA teams receive acceptance criteria?
    • Familiarity with accessibility
    • Familiarity with assistive technology
  • Procurement
    • Familiarity with accessibility law

Conduct focus group input sessions

By letting teams be part of focus group discussions, they will have a voice in shaping changes to their processes. It’s important for people to feel like their voices are heard.

These sessions also allow you to build relationships with teams so they know there is an accessibility team with points of contact.

Track metrics for leadership

Assessments, surveys and focus groups will give you some really great metrics leadership will appreciate. Plus, by giving them objective data, you will have more ability to ask for enforcement of policies and increased funding.

Improve processes and maturity

Add accessibility as functional requirement

Teams need to understand that accessibility is a functional requirement. It’s not just a legal compliance box to be checked like a disclaimer.

Accessibility should be named and accepted as a gated high-level requirement, just like security or performance.

There are few ways to do this by role.

  • Product owners define accessibility acceptance criteria.
  • Developers require accessibility acceptance criteria in their definition of ready and done.
  • Release managers require accessibility test cases to be complete.

General and role specific training on accessibility

Work with your HR group to incorporate universal basic accessibility training into your onboarding process covering accessibility as a value of the company, basic accessibility etiquette, and the law.

For existing and future team members, you need to identify and assign a uniform online training covering expectations and the basics of accessibility for each role. Report completion metrics to leadership.

Integrate manual and automated quality gates

QA testers should require accessibility acceptance criteria in their test cases.

Run a uniform automated testing tool at each stage of the software development process for developers, testers and CI/CD pipeline managers.

Offer expert accessibility mentoring

It’s unrealistic to think that a single training course will give developers what they need to start writing accessible code. Training will provide a foundation for asking the right questions of the accessibility mentors.

Areas of expertise

  • Web UI development
  • Native app development
  • UX/UI design and research
  • Copywriting
  • QA testing

You will likely not find all of these competencies in a single accessibility coach/mentor.

Foster cultural change

Produce high quality communications and events

This does not mean adding another email newsletter to inboxes.

Partner with your internal communications team to find ways to communicate using existing platforms. Those teams are always looking for something new to share and can report metrics.

Use leadership engagement at events to drive attendance, and invite outside experts.

Operate a champions program

Plan to devote the majority of a person’s capacity to this program.

Consider all of the assets and processes that need to be created:

  • Curriculum
  • Coordination with team managers
  • Becoming integrated into employee career ladders
  • Recognition and awards

Many companies have started now defunct accessibility champion programs, aimed at creating mentorship opportunities and recognition of designers and developers advancing their skills, but underestimated the commitment required.

A champions program will not happen organically. These programs are an enormous amount of work and need significant collaboration with HR, managers and communications to be sustainable.

Your checklist

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Gathering data
Improve processes and maturity
Foster cultural change
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