How to Evaluate Potential Software Solutions for Accessibility

Published June 30, 2022

Businesses use an average of 137 apps per year on average with a 30% churn rate. This means that a third of the apps your business relies on might not be meeting your needs by the end of this year. It’s critical to keep accessibility in mind as you look for replacements.

Here are a few ways to evaluate potential software solutions to make sure they have sufficient accessibility features. 

Familiarize yourself with digital accessibility guidelines

You can’t hold SaaS vendors accountable for accessibility features unless you understand them yourself. Prioritize learning about current digital accessibility standards so you can make informed decisions when considering software solutions.

  • Start with Accessibility.com resources to learn about digital accessibility best practices and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Use checklists and guides to learn how to test for accessibility. BarrierBreak created an accessibility toolkit that can serve as a jumping-off point.  
  • Identify other tools you can use to evaluate accessibility. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has more than 160 tools that test different requirements. These range from checking contrast on pages to finding labeling mistakes in HTML code. 

Learning about accessibility requirements and features is a process. It will take time for you to understand how to properly evaluate SaaS vendors. Try to attend accessibility conferences and sign up for courses for deeper insight and ongoing education.

Request accessibility demonstrations and reports

Once you have a clear understanding of digital accessibility you can start to approach SaaS providers. When a potential vendor is walking you through a software demonstration, ask to see the built-in accessibility features. 

Not only should the vendor be able to walk you through specific tools, but they should explain how each feature helps employees with different disabilities. A few features developed to accommodate blind users won’t necessarily help employees who are deaf or those who have cognitive disabilities.

You should also ask the provider about their accessibility testing process and request reports from objective third parties proving that their tools are accessible. If they don’t have anything to show, be prepared to look elsewhere.   

Hire an accessibility software evaluator

If you work at a mid-size company or a large enterprise, consider reviewing your resources and potentially hiring a team member to focus exclusively on accessibility testing. This employee will be responsible for evaluating any tools or apps that different departments want to use to make sure they meet or exceed current standards.

If you work for a smaller firm and don’t have the resources to retain someone in a full-time accessibility role, you can look into agencies that specialize in this form of testing. 

Let your employees test out the product 

There’s a reason why the average company needs hundreds of software solutions. Software is part of every employee’s day-to-day experience, from time clock tools that allow employees to check in to digital requests for time off. While some tools are used by every employee or by large teams, you may have a few apps that are only used by a select group of people. 

If you know that a particular employee will need certain accessibility features, give them the option to participate in the evaluation process. . If you are looking for software that will be used by a large group of employees, consider organizing a focus group to make sure it is usable. Not every employee with a disability will want to test software tools, so make sure to keep participation voluntary.

Apply your evaluation practices to existing tools

While you can follow these steps when you need to work with new SaaS vendors, the same can be done with tools already being used within your company. Consider establishing a policy to evaluate all of your software tools to ensure they meet accessibility standards and internal needs.

Evaluating software for accessibility takes time. It slows down the procurement process. However, the steps you take to check for accessibility can make a significant difference in the workflows of your team members. Your employees with disabilities are more likely to stay engaged in a workplace designed with them in mind.  

Attend AccessibilityPlus 

At Accessibility.com, we are committed to helping companies make better accessibility decisions for their employees. When an employer values accessibility and implements standards for vendors and SaaS providers, all employers can feel supported. 

If you want to improve your accessibility efforts, look at the event schedule for AccessibilityPlus. In the coming months, we have sessions on eCommerce improvements, accessible technology, and testing. If you missed an event that your company could benefit from, you can still register to view past presentations. See which sessions are right for you. 

AccessibilityPlus 2022

Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting digital accessibility and equal access for all while recognizing there is much work to be done. As we welcome a new year in 2022, we have opened registration for AccessibilityPlus 2022, which will feature events dedicated to promoting actionable solutions in implementing digital accessibility initiatives. Registration is limited. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus Event Calendar.

Registrations for our August event Add to Cart: Creating an Accessible e-Commerce Experience are now available at no cost for Accessibility.com viewers for a limited time.

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