Navigating the Journey: Overcoming Accessibility Challenges in Organizations

Written By Dr. Keith Newton and Zenyth

March 12, 2024

Digital accessibility is a journey. Many companies face challenges making significant progress towards improving accessibility and creating inclusive experiences. Governance plays an essential role in breaking the cycle of accessibility challenges within organizations by driving the application of a comprehensive approach to ensuring that accessibility is not just a one-time effort but rather an integral part of the company's policies and culture.

The Challenge

Matrixed organizations often face challenges to address accessibility in a manner that enables them to ingrain the concept within its policies and culture.  Lack of awareness, fragmented efforts across departments, resource constraints, absence of expertise, and resistance to change are some of the common challenges companies face when introducing accessibility practices, even while recognizing accessibility not only as a compliance requirement, but also as means to create better products, reach a broader audience, and foster a more inclusive workplace. 

To eliminate the cycle of challenges, organizations must take action to implement accessibility  using the authority, accountability, leadership, direction, and control exercised across the organization. This level of governance plays a pivotal role ensuring that accessibility is not addressed as a one-time effort, but is implemented as an integral part of the company's policies and culture.

The Role of Governance

Governance serves as the backbone of an organization's accessibility efforts. Governance creates a framework for sustained commitment, continuous improvement, and cultural transformation. It also helps organizations establish an environment where accessibility is not only prioritized, but also fidelity as practice evolves with the organization, ultimately fostering inclusivity and equitable access.

Structured and well-coordinated approaches to decision-making, resource allocation, and accountability to address accessibility across an organization are dependent upon the scenarios for the company which necessitate governance. Such efforts demonstrate the organization’s mechanical and logistical integration of accessibility practice to stakeholders. These may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Legal Compliance: It is widely accepted that state and local government entities in the US, for example, are legally obligated to comply with laws and guidelines for accessibility.  Legislation often references established accessibility standards (under ADA Title II, Section 508), and the expectation is that these and  places of public accommodation (ADA Title III) will meet or exceed these requirements.  
  • Reporting and Accountability: Legislation typically requires agencies to report on their accessibility efforts and compliance. Section 508 (US),  European Union (EU) Web Accessibility Directive, and other places such as Japan, Australia, and Canada have laws with similar reporting requirements. This reporting ensures transparency and accountability in the process.
  • Policy Development: Public sector agencies must develop and update their accessibility policies in alignment with legislative requirements. This involves incorporating specific mandates and guidelines into agency policies and procedures.

Additionally, the governance program will determine how the organization implements the following:

  • Training and Awareness: Agencies must provide training to employees regarding their responsibilities under the legislation. This includes raising awareness about the importance of accessibility, technical requirements and processes for software, and knowing  processes on how  to create accessible content and environments.
  • Procurement and Vendor Management: In state and federal government in the US, for example, Legislation may require agencies to include accessibility criteria in procurement processes and to ensure that content developed by third-party be accessible as well as ensuring that purchased products and services from vendors are compliant.
  • Review and Audit Processes: Agencies must establish processes for reviewing and auditing their digital content, in addition to creating and publishing accessibility plans outlining strategies for achieving compliance and addressing accessibility challenges.

Receive guidance from a seasoned accessibility expert

To get out of the cycle of accessibility challenges, obtain guidance from a company that specializes in accessibility can significantly impact your organization's journey towards accessibility.  This expert acts as your accessibility sherpa. The sherpa provides both operational and tactical expertise in the accessibility space, acts as in-house expertise to guide and oversee accessibility efforts, help the organization implement essential processes and  prevent the misinterpretation of accessibility standards. The long-term result is efficiency; consistent implementation, understanding, and development of accessible products and services with less time and effort dealing with the cycle of accessibility challenges.

Zenyth's perspective on how to Build a Sustainable Accessibility Culture

After considering the above it becomes clear that this is not only a journey of compliance, but one of cultural transformation within the organization. The steps we've discussed so far lay the groundwork for a more inclusive environment, but the true measure of success lies in our ability to sustain and nurture this culture over time. Moving beyond the initial setup and into a phase of continuous growth and improvement is the end goal. Let's explore how developing an internal policy and mission statement serves as the vital first step in this ongoing process, and how we can effectively measure our progress through key performance indicators (KPIs).

Embarking on the Accessibility Governance Journey: Where to Begin

When it comes to integrating accessibility into the very fabric of an organization, starting from the ground up is not just wise — it's essential. Imagine building a house without a blueprint; it's the same with integrating accessibility into your organization. Your blueprint begins with a solid foundation: developing an internal policy and a mission statement dedicated to accessibility.

Laying the Foundation with Policy and Mission

Crafting Your Accessibility Mission Statement: Think of your mission statement as your North Star, guiding every decision and action within your organization towards inclusivity and equal access. This statement should reflect your organization's commitment to creating an accessible environment for all users, regardless of their abilities. It's about more than compliance; it's about compassion, understanding, and recognizing the diverse needs of your community.

Developing an Internal Accessibility Policy: With your mission statement as your guide, the next step is to develop a comprehensive internal policy. This policy should outline the standards and practices your organization will follow to achieve its accessibility goals. It's a commitment to action, detailing how you plan to address and implement accessibility across all facets of your organization — from digital content to physical spaces.

Incorporating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into Your Accessibility Policy

As we lay down the foundational elements of an effective accessibility governance strategy, the development of an internal policy and mission statement marks our starting point. However, to truly make this policy effective and ensure it serves its purpose, embedding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within your policy framework is essential. These KPIs act as markers for your organization's journey towards inclusivity, providing clear metrics for success and areas for improvement.

Key Performance Indicators to Include in Your Accessibility Policy

  • Accessibility Audit Benchmarks: Define clear benchmarks based on regular accessibility audits. These audits assess compliance with standards like WCAG and Section 508, providing a snapshot of where your digital assets stand. Including these benchmarks in your policy ensures a commitment to ongoing evaluation and improvement.
  • Training Completion Rates: An informed and engaged team is crucial for fostering an inclusive culture. Your policy should specify targets for employee accessibility training completion, ensuring that everyone from developers to content creators understands their role in maintaining accessibility standards.
  • User Feedback Mechanisms: Incorporating user feedback directly into your policy highlights the importance of listening to the voices of those most affected by accessibility barriers. Set goals for collecting and responding to feedback, using it as a direct line to understand and address user needs.
  • Compliance Milestones: Outline specific, time-bound milestones for achieving compliance with legal and industry standards. These milestones serve as clear goals for your organization to strive towards, ensuring a proactive approach to accessibility.
  • Innovation and Inclusion Goals: Beyond compliance, your policy should encourage innovation in accessibility. Set KPIs around the development and implementation of new technologies or practices that enhance inclusivity, demonstrating your organization's commitment to going above and beyond.

Ensuring a Dynamic and Responsive Policy

Remember, the effectiveness of your accessibility policy hinges on its ability to adapt and evolve. As such, these KPIs should not be static but reviewed and updated regularly to reflect new technologies, feedback, and organizational changes. This dynamic approach ensures that your policy remains a living document, guiding your organization towards a more inclusive future.


The pursuit of accessibility is a transformative journey. By weaving accessibility into the fabric of your organization's culture, policies, and practices, it sets the organization on a path of lasting change. Embrace this journey, seek guidance, and embrace governance—because in creating accessible digital experiences, decisions and planning around what to do and why help to determine the level of success.

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