Incorporating accessibility into the core of your workplace can be daunting - where do you even start? You should embrace accessibility into your core work, like how you approach digital strategy, but if you’re already doing that and need more momentum or incorporating it slowly isn’t working, then it’s time to bring out the big guns.
We’re here to tell you how to start your own accessibility certification program and why it pays off. In the first part, we walked you through where we started, how our team grew, and the tools and topics we focused on to ensure that our progress would be long-lasting and impactful.
For the second step on the journey to creating a new certification program, we narrowed down what organization we wanted to partner with to get the best community and resources for our team. We also began preparing for leadership buy-in to make our organization accessibility-first.
Incorporating Into Existing Foundations
We incorporated internal championing by following some of the A11y stepping stones: using audits, ebooks, and training (ie: presentable materials). We outlined a training curriculum where the intended purpose is to allow groups of Mediacurrent employees to train together to achieve different certifications which can then be used to further Mediacurrent in the realm of online accessibility. In so many words, we set up a way to integrate the program with the Mediacurrent Mentorship program.
The commitment from our team was this: for every individual who earns an accessibility certification or learns a specific skill to contribute to our team, they also contribute back to our mentorship program by mentoring future team members who want to earn that certificate or learn the same skill. While we’re starting with a group that has experience in accessibility already, this program will let our program grow by creating a bridge for those with no experience.
It’s Free Real Estate
Internal championing among our team and getting people excited and able to collaborate is important but equally important is doing something with the things we learn. Our second task: target this program so that it’s more marketable.
We wanted to focus on the certifications in particular, so the discussion became, how do we promote our progress and show value to clients? The answer? Deliverables and marketing.
In part one of How to Become Accessibility-First, we mentioned a non-conclusive list of opportunities that would provide value to our team and our clients. It included accessibility tools and browser add-ons, accessibility services we could offer, certifications our team could earn, and accessibility organizations that we could become a member of.
Using that list, we chose to continue using many of the tools that we were already using, including Lighthouse, SiteImprove, and Axe DevTools. We also began working on items that we could deliver to our clients that came from our team, rather than working with a 3rd party system. We decided to
- create an accessibility statement to show our goals and express our commitment
- gather our client work examples and begin collecting information on ongoing projects to record our accessibility work in case studies more frequently
- produce a one-sheet sales page detailing the accessibility work we do
- write an easy-to-read one-sheet for our team to offer a bundle of services with pre-estimated time depending on client needs
All of those things are great, but how do we communicate them? The first thing we did was publish our accessibility statement. With that public, we worked on gathering our accessibility work and including progress updates in every team meeting on how current projects were going. Our most recent marketing efforts are tied into the training program - we became a member of the IAAP.
Our membership to IAAP includes great benefits for our team, but it’s also highly recognizable to people who are interested in our accessibility services. The membership itself is one thing, but our team is very excited to have members who are WAS and CPACC certified. Those certifications alone carry a lot of weight and will prove our dedication to continued learning and improvement of accessible digital spaces.
If you want to learn more about becoming accessibility-first, join us for the next part in this series, where we talk about what organization we chose and how we presented our case to our leadership team and began to roll out the training program.
To get started on an accessibility project today with the help of our team, learn about our accessibility team here or contact us today, and see how together, we can create a digital experience that exceeds your expectations.