One of the largest barriers organizations face when addressing digital accessibility is awareness throughout the company. From the C-suite to the marketing department, everyone must understand the goal and buy into the mission to ensure cohesive efforts to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
The best way to obtain and maintain digital accessibility is through training and educating your team, as well as providing them tools to get the job done. Whether your employees already have a deep knowledge of accessibility standards or are starting from scratch, WCAG accessibility training can transform your business operations, ensure compliance, and create more positive user experiences.
Holistic WCAG training for your organization also comes with challenges. By examining the benefits and components behind digital accessibility training, you can determine if it is right for your organization.
Who Should Be Trained on Digital Accessibility?
All departments—especially those that deal with customer-facing digital experiences, such as your website or native apps—should understand digital accessibility. Key groups that will benefit from training include:
- Management: People in leadership roles must know about the organizational considerations, collaboration, and impacts related to accessibility. For example, offering accessible products/services may create the need to train support staff. Keeping managers up to date on how the company is improving its digital inclusion also will support continued alignment and funding.
- Marketing: As the main distribution channel for content, the marketing department must understand its impact on accessibility when sharing content on the company’s digital properties and distribution channels. Your marketers will need plenty of training in topics, including accessibility concepts for marketing, use of alt tags, closed captioning on videos, and PDF accessibility.
- User experience: UX designers play a critical role in web accessibility and in ensuring all digital content meets the WCAG. The Nielsen Norman Group offers a robust set of usability guidelines for accessible UX design.
- Project management: Project managers must be able to lead and control the requirements, resources, and effort of accessibility on their projects. They need broad knowledge of the techniques, processes, and standards so they can facilitate collaboration across teams and resources. They also must include and streamline accessibility in their processes as they handle problems across all digital channels.
- Development: Beyond needing extensive accessibility training in coding techniques to meet WCAG standards, developers will need tools, such as a Chrome extension, to help them test as they develop. Such tools and training can reduce issues that crop up during the quality assurance (QA) process.
- Quality assurance: Your QA team should implement a clear test plan and system for measuring success. Additionally, the QA team needs training on issue escalation and must be an integral part of user acceptance testing (UAT).
How to Conduct Digital Accessibility Training Across Your Organization
Once you’ve identified teams that will benefit from accessibility training, this step-by-step approach will help you determine how to implement that training:
1. Identify Training Groups and Determine Curricula
Identify groups of employees based on job role and training topics so you can easily match modules and curricula to fit each group. Training should be based on the types of digital channels your company utilizes, including websites, apps, and so on. Different digital channels might require different action or remediation.
2. Create Training Materials or Identify a Training Partner
Although it might require a large upfront effort, with the right in-house employee or team, you could create your own accessibility training. For most organizations, this option isn’t feasible; most organizations that train their staff on accessibility use a third-party vendor to do so. If you outsource, partner with an organization with deep experience and expertise, both in accessibility and staff training.
3. Deliver Regular Trainings and Gather Feedback
Training should be hands-on whenever possible. After setting up a training program, codify how often each group of employees needs to be retrained. A good training cadence and the right qualitative and quantitative feedback from your employees enable you to consistently assess the effectiveness of the program and improve it.
Moving Forward with Accessibility Training
Training your employees on the finer points of digital accessibility can make the difference between success and failure of an accessibility initiative. When every stakeholder knows the ins and outs of the WCAG and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), achieving and maintaining accessibility progress becomes easier.
Accessibility training also puts employees—from web and app developers to social media and community managers—in the shoes of people with disabilities so they can understand how these users engage with your website and other digital channels. This new empathy encourages your employees to become advocates for digital accessibility at your company and throughout your industry.
Most importantly, web accessibility training gives all departments the knowledge and tools to approach accessibility head-on. Your organization will be better positioned to remain compliant and quickly remediate issues and address problems, thus helping avoid costly litigation and poor user experiences.
For more information about WCAG training and web and app accessibility best practices, check out our Roadmap to Digital Inclusion.