Accessibility for Managers

Illustration of person looking at org chart.As a manager, you play a critical role in building and supporting a culture of accessibility. Sometimes accessibility is thought of as a liability or a requirement, but there are many benefits to considering accessibility, such as driving innovation, improving the user experience of digital content, and helping reach a wider audience. 

The following suggested practices will help you prioritize accessibility within your team, leading to more inclusive digital experiences.

Building your team's accessibility knowledge

Every member of the team has a role to play when it comes to accessibility. Managers should make sure that team members understand their responsibilities, and that they feel equipped with training and support to deliver accessible products.

To help build accessibility knowledge on your team, there are several resources available for members of the Harvard community:

Hiring with accessibility in mind

By including accessibility requirements and qualifications into job descriptions, managers set the expectation that accessibility is an important part of individual performance expectation and the team’s culture. For specific roles that are integral to the design and development of digital content, managers can work with recruiters to identify and seek out applicants with accessibility experience and knowledge. 

To help incorporate accessibility into your hiring process, there are several online resources available:

Including accessibility in projects

When managers prioritize accessibility throughout every stage of a project - including planning, development, and design - team members will feel empowered to create inclusive digital products.

Project Stages

Planning

Project Managers are responsible for including accessibility as a project requirement. This includes assigning accessibility roles to team members, and providing sufficient time and resources throughout the project for achieving accessibility goals.

Content

Content Creators should make sure that the content is well structured, uses clear and simple language, and can be conveyed in multiple formats for assistive technology.

Design

Web and UX Designers should be knowledgeable about their users’ needs, and apply universal design principles to ensure an inclusive experience. Designers can incorporate accessibility into design files and style guides, which will help define accessibility requirements for the development team.

Development

Developers should be knowledgeable of accessibility best practices, and should include accessibility considerations throughout the development process. The development team should perform testing on individual components as they are developed, as well as on combined page layouts and templates.

Quality Assurance (QA)

An accessibility testing plan should include a combination of both automated and manual testing, with a defined scope that prioritizes high traffic content, critical user flows, and site components. QA Testers should document accessibility issues and help prioritize them for the rest of the team.

Maintenance

Accessibility testing is an ongoing process that continues after a project has launched. Team members should conduct periodic checks to ensure that no new barriers have been introduced, and make updates that might be required to address reported issues, as well as to meet evolving accessibility standards.

Selecting accessible tools and services

Icon of a contract with signed agreement.Any tools and services selected by the team should be vetted for accessibility. If considered early, product owners may have more options than if they wait to address accessibility with a previously selected vendor. When selecting vendors, look for companies with a track record of universal design practices, and incorporate accessibility requirements into bids and contracts.

To help build accessibility into your procurement process, there are several resources available including Harvard’s Procurement and Development Policy: