Accessibility

What to Look for When Hiring for Digital Accessibility Roles

24 August 2022

Are you looking to hire for digital accessibility roles? If you don’t have accessibility expertise, do you know how to hire for accessibility roles? If so, then you’re in the same boat as many other organisations. 

Accessibility jobs are increasing across industries, with companies looking for ways to make their products and services more beneficial for people who have disabilities. The number of accessibility jobs is increasing due to disability litigation, efforts to diversify and create an inclusive environment, and more. 

We’ve put together some information to help you know what to look for when hiring for digital accessibility roles. Let’s get started!

Why is Accessibility Important? 

There are several reasons that accessibility is important. For one thing, there’s the ethical reason. It’s essential to make sure everyone has the ability to access digital products. It’s the right thing to do. 

Then, there are legal reasons to consider becoming more accessible. Many countries are making it a legal requirement to be accessible. Then there’s also the risk of being sued for violation of human rights when products and services are not accessible. 

Next, people with disabilities create a large market around the world. They make up about 15% of the population and have the money to spend on products and services geared towards their disabilities. 

What about innovation? Many organisations are now looking to create diverse and inclusive teams that lead design to improve digital products for this market. In addition, accessible products and services are user-friendly for almost everyone. And accessible products tend to be more robust and useful. 

Finally, inclusive businesses create a more loyal customer base and attract more positive press coverage. 

Now that you know why accessibility is essential, do you know what roles your staff needs? 

What Digital Accessibility Roles Do You Need to Fill? 

If you’re not sure which accessibility roles you need to fill, then ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What roles are essential to hire for? 
  • Which role should you start with? 
  • Where can you find candidates who know about accessibility? 
  • How do you evaluate their skills and knowledge when hiring? 

You can choose to increase your company’s digital accessibility in these ways: 

  • Hire specialists in digital accessibility or an accessibility consulting company
  • Upskill existing digital team members on accessibility 
  • Identify accessibility champions at the executive level

Each of these roles is essential when hiring for digital accessibility roles. 

What is an Accessibility Specialist? 

An accessibility specialist is an employee who understands how to create accessible digital assets, including websites, apps, and documents. These individuals may be certified as a Web Accessibility Specialist through the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), have plenty of work experience, and have lived with a person who has a disability and/or used assistive technology. 

An Accessibility Specialist has a deep understanding of how to make digital products and documents more accessible. This is a role that’s best for a company under 50 people. However, for a larger organisation, you may want to consider hiring an executive accessibility champion before hiring a specialist. 

Upskilling Your Team on Accessibility 

Another option is to upskill your existing team on accessibility through training. This method works to ensure accessibility is decentralised and everyone in the organisation develops their accessibility skills. Upskilling the team means accessibility is more integrated into each project and process. 

Upskilling requires providing accessibility training to the entire digital team and new hires. It’s essential to ensure the training and onboarding programs help the team learn about different approaches to accessibility. These approaches can be used by researchers, designers, writers, and everyone on the team. The goal is to create improved consistency across the team. 

Executive Champion for Accessibility

An executive champion for accessibility also makes for a more effective accessibility program. They can bring accessibility considerations into all conversations, including budgeting, planning, and more. Their importance to a project is that they can enable accessibility from the very beginning. It’s much harder to add accessibility after the fact. Instead, an executive champion for accessibility can ensure the design is seamless and easily integrates accessibility throughout the project’s design. 

Working in this manner can cut the time and finances needed to design accessibility products. It can also have a positive effect on the overall accessible design. 

An executive champion is usually best for a digital team with 50 or more individuals. It’s usually better to hire an executive champion before the budget can be determined and an accessibility specialist can be hired. 

Hiring an Accessibility Consulting Company

There are times when it may be a better choice to hire an accessibility consulting company. For instance, if your company has a team of over 100 employees, then an accessibility consulting company may be the smarter choice. 

An accessibility consulting team can help create a strategy, offer training and coaching, and recommend accessibility tools and processes that your team can use. 

However, if you choose to hire a consulting company, avoid hiring one that offers a quick fix. Quick fixes usually don’t address the issues in the design or build that lead to more accessibility. It’s also good to be somewhat sceptical of companies that solely focus on accessibility auditing. An audit can be beneficial; however, your team won’t know how to fix the issues found without the right support and guidance. Accessibility issues could even become worse without the right direction. 

Concluding Thoughts 

There are many ways that can be used to increase your team’s capacity and knowledge of accessibility. It’s essential to begin putting together an accessibility team within your business. Making products and services accessible isn’t only to meet legal requirements – it’s also to do the right thing, by making your business products and services accessible to everyone.

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