While it’s one thing to manage your employees with disabilities remotely throughout the pandemic, it’s quite another to do this long-term. This is even more relevant if you’re bringing employees back to the office or you’re looking at permanent solutions that apply to at-home working or in-office working. Ideally, if you have to purchase anything, you want it to cover both options.
The Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM)
Building a sustainable accessibility program requires organizations to adopt initiatives that foster cultures that continuously promote accessibility and inclusion. This means going beyond establishing goals, measuring progress, and considering the project complete. True inclusion and accessibility require growth and incorporation of diverse values and perspectives. A great way to do this on an ongoing basis is to adopt something like the Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM).
Essentially a self-assessment tool, the Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM) allows businesses to assess levels of accessibility in terms of IT. Running AMM will show you what your accessibility performance is, which gives you a great place to start if you want to improve it. AMM is entirely free and comes with free resources to help you work through it. You can download and read the full charter and sign the declaration, essentially documenting your commitment to accessible IT in your business.
Accessible technology charter
Creating an accessibility charter is a deliberate action that ensures the organization's stakeholders understand roles and responsibilities when implementing an accessibility initiative. It also clearly communicates the organization's commitment to accessibility. Typically, an accessibility charter should cover ten critical areas of responsibility for managers that will improve your accessibility score. These key areas include:
- Appointing a ‘Champion’ to raise awareness of the company’s efforts and ensure continuous improvement.
- Raising colleague awareness of the accessibility issues some people experience with technology and why more accessible technology is necessary.
- Consulting with employees living with disabilities to discuss what is needed, what is challenging, and whether any changes are helpful or not.
- Allowing built-in accessible technology options and ensuring these reach the employees who need them.
- Organizing a workplace adjustment process that offers accessible technology options to employees living with disabilities.
- Training staff in accessibility so that they’re better equipped to handle requests from employees living with disabilities.
- Checking the company’s score on a regular basis using AMM.
- Beginning processes with accessibility in mind so that accessible options do not have to be retrofitted.
- Including accessibility as a requirement when purchasing new technological items or equipment.
- Continuously improving accessibility, documenting efforts and findings, and regularly reviewing policies.
AMM and sustainability
Using the AMM regularly helps improve accessibility and can better prepare organizations for the long term. If existing accessibility solutions no longer serve employees' and customer's needs, it will soon show, and action can be taken to address it.
Having a sustainable approach to implementing accessibility options is the best long-term goal to set. Doing so will save money while adding accessibility options later can be trickier and more expensive. It’s also an excellent way of supporting the accessibility initiative and employees with disabilities.
Remote working comes with its own accessibility issues. Still, if you’ve had to add accessible technology options to your business due to remote working, the same options can still apply to your in-office technology so that you won’t be out of pocket.
Adding accessible options to your company’s IT doesn’t have to be expensive or a waste of time. Use the AMM to help you figure out what your technology needs are, and remember to start by including accessibility as a requirement before you start.