As it becomes more and more apparent that accessibility is necessary for all businesses, organizations are looking for help to align accessibility requirements with business objectives. That’s easier to do when an entire group is dedicated to upholding accessibility standards in an organization.
In 2020, the accessibility group at Mediacurrent decided that we wanted to be a group of certified accessibility specialists. The dream is to be a well-oiled machine where accessibility isn’t just built into our process but at the core of it with even more knowledge and experience to back it up. We came up with a three-step plan to make it happen. Read along to build your own certification program on the way to becoming an accessibility-first organization.
How it Started
When we began exploring what creating a certification program would require, our accessibility group was already well established at Mediacurrent—a dedicated team that held regular meetings; completed internal projects like auditing our Rain CMS and creating a library of accessibility resources; and discussed questions and topics relating to best practices. Individual members of our group worked to keep accessibility top-of-mind in the customer projects they were working on as well.
In addition to running projects in our established group, we also incorporated accessibility into our onboarding process. We walk new Mediacurrent team members through best practices, how to find resources for their projects, and how to get further involved.
But while we had a great system available for anyone to join, we wanted to create an official program in order to gain traction on projects and better push accessibility initiatives across Mediacurrent. To make it happen, we started with brainstorming ideas for what the certification program would look like.
Organizing the New Program
We began the certification program creation process by forming a leadership committee to focus our goals and form the approach to take to Mediacurrent’s leadership. The committee consisted of our most interested and dedicated team members who regularly attended the group meetings.
The leadership committee researched how other new programs had been created and outlined what the accessibility certification program would look like. We also used other resources at hand, including our network partners like Code and Theory, learning from their experience with certifications and program creation and management. The path forward was to provide value back to the company from our work.
We decided on our goals and next steps from there: researching certification programs in order to get our team certified, which we could then take to clients with accessibility sellable items, such as audits, remediation, etc.
Researching Certifications, Training, and Tools
Our committee consisted of a Mediacurrent developer, strategist, and designer — the perfect group to do a comprehensive research project.
We began with a list of ideation topics, making it as general as possible and including both upfront and long-term opportunities to provide value:
- Tools like Qualtrics, Lighthouse, and SiteImprove
- Accessibility services
- Our accessibility ebook
- Accessibility slide decks for content creators
- Best practices for digital strategy
- Certifications like the WAS and CPACC
- Accessibility memberships like IAAP and W3C
With our full list, we ran a cost comparison on different tool licenses, member organizations, and certification programs. We also did a deeper dive into what services other accessibility companies were offering and how it compared to what our accessibility team already had to offer.
The certifications and membership organizations were narrowed down to what fit Mediacurrent best, and we began discussing specifics of what each option would look like and what deliverables would result from each of these new investments, which would help us in explaining the value that would come from creating the new program.
Interested in learning more about how to become an accessibility-first organization? Next in this series we'll discuss what organization we chose and how we prepared to get leadership buy-in to make our organization accessibility-first.
And if you need help with accessibility at your organization, learn about our accessibility team and how we can work together with your organization to create a digital experience that exceeds your expectations.