Most businesses understand the importance of arming employees with the tools and knowledge they need to do their jobs. Training is a key part of building and keeping knowledgeable employees – but the vital need to incorporate accessibility training isn’t always clear-cut.
From leadership, to Human Resources, information technology, customer support, and more, ensuring employees in various roles are trained on the legal requirements and best practices for accessibility is key. Companies can set their employees up for success and save time and money by providing comprehensive accessibility training.
In this post, we’ll discuss the essential elements of a quality accessibility training program, the benefits of doing it well, and how your company can get started.
Why Do I Need Accessibility Training?
The Americans With Disability Act (ADA) requires both public entities and businesses make their information and communications technology (ICT) accessible to people with disabilities, which includes websites, apps, digital kiosks and more. A website with inaccessible features can limit the ability of people with disabilities to access public accommodations, such as goods, services, and privileges available through that website. An inaccessible website also means you are not complying with the ADA, which puts the company at risk of litigation and reputational damage.
Web accessibility training helps you ensure that your company can obtain and maintain conformance with accessibility guidelines. It also helps your company more effectively reach its business goals. When employees get training on accessibility, they better understand the needs of people with disabilities and how to create inclusive products, services and tools for all.
Benefits of Digital Accessibility Training
Accessibility training benefits both employees and organizations by enhancing customer service, fostering employee engagement, and aligning with your overall social responsibility goals. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to see when you invest in accessibility training.
- Fostering an understanding of disabilities: Employees may not be familiar with various types of disabilities or how they affect people. Accessibility training can help employees understand how disabilities impact daily life and the accommodations people with disabilities often need.
- Better communication: Employees may need guidance on how to create products and services that enable communication with people who have hearing, vision, or cognitive impairments.
- Compliance: Accessibility courses educate employees on federal and state regulations related to digital accessibility and how to comply with them.
- Improved customer service: When employees know and use accessibility best practices, businesses can better serve customers with disabilities, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
- More efficient operations: When your employees understand why websites need to be accessible and what features they must include, these attributes can be built into new webpages, apps and products from the start. This is a far more efficient process than having to go back and remediate digital assets because the team didn’t know how to build them with accessibility in mind.
- Enhanced employee engagement: When employees feel included and valued, they tend to be more engaged and productive. Accessibility training can promote a culture of inclusion and diversity, which can lead to improved job performance and employee retention.
- Social responsibility: Providing equal opportunities for all individuals aligns with socially responsible business practices. Accessibility training demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility and enhances a company’s reputation.
Accessibility Training for Employees: What to Include
Launching a new training program is an investment—both in time and money—so companies should ensure that their time and money are well spent by building an effective and comprehensive web training program. The best web accessibility courses are customized for each business, depending on the products and services offered and the job roles employees serve.
Here are some topics you may want to include:
Introduction to Web Accessibility: New employees and companies that are just starting their accessibility training process want to begin by defining the basics of web accessibility, including:
- Definition of digital accessibility
- Importance of web accessibility
- Overview of relevant laws, such as the ADA and Section 508
- Overview of essential guidelines, like WCAG 2.1
- Clearly defining roles and expectations for employees
- Encouraging employee advocacy and involvement in accessibility efforts
Understanding Disabilities and Assistive Technologies: In addition to information about policies and guidelines, companies should also include information about:
- The types of disabilities that affect access to the web
- Assistive technologies used by people with disabilities, such as screen readers, magnifiers and voice recognition software
- Demonstrating how assistive technologies work and the most common assistive applications
Accessibility Training for Designers: Accessibility starts with design and UX. Web designers play a critical role: their decisions could have the most impact on how accessible a website is by designing the usability of its parts. Developers rely on accessible designs to ensure the work they do creates an accessible asset.
- Principles of Universal Design
- Incorporating accessibility into the design processes
- Creating accessible graphics, images, and multimedia
- Techniques for managing layout shift and reflow
- Color contrast
- Writing style and language considerations
- Navigation and structuring content for accessibility
- Tables, forms, and data visualization
WCAG Training for Developers: Web developers are on the front lines of digital accessibility and should therefore get training that emphasizes the importance of developing accessible technologies. This may include:
- WCAG 2.1 guidelines and how they apply to development
- Integrating accessibility into existing development processes
- Semantic HTML structure
- ARIA attributes and proper usage
- Correct implementation of images and non-text content
- Clear navigation
- Forms, tables, and data grids
- Audio and video accessibility
Accessibility Evaluation and Testing Techniques: To obtain and maintain web accessibility, companies must invest in evaluations and ongoing testing. These tests will identify problem areas for remediation and where further employee training may be needed.
- Tools and methods for evaluating website accessibility
- User testing with assistive technologies
Fixing Common Accessibility Issues: Gaining conformance with WCAG standards and meeting regulatory requirements requires first addressing accessibility issues. Here are some topics employees will need to understand to do this accessibility remediation work.
- Correcting common accessibility errors, like missing alt text and form labels
- Strategies for resolving issues quickly
- Remediation prioritization and strategies
Interactive Exercises and Case Studies: The best web accessibility courses will include some form of real-world examples of web accessibility issues and how they are resolved, including case studies for discussion and problem-solving.
Accessibility Courses Online: Many web accessibility courses can be done online or remotely, which can be a good option for a virtual workforce or employees who want to gain this knowledge outside the office. Some topics these online courses could include are:
- Section 508 compliance training
- EN 301 549 compliance training
- VPAT writing
Ensuring Your Accessibility Training Is Effective
The best accessibility training programs include post-training evaluation and feedback gathering. This small but important step will show you quickly how effective your training is and areas for improvement. This step should include:
- Gathering feedback from participants to improve future trainings.
- How to tailor future courses to your organization’s specific needs and audience.
- If additional resources or follow-up sessions are needed.
- What continuous monitoring and improvement strategies are needed.
Regardless of the results of this evaluation, companies benefit from having a knowledge base or resources available when future questions about digital accessibility arise.
Third-Party Accessibility Training Program
By partnering with a specialized web accessibility company, you can ensure that your team receives top-notch training. This will help your employees create inclusive digital experiences that meet the needs of all users, regardless of abilities. Here are some of the benefits of hiring an outside firm to manage your digital accessibility training program:
Expertise: Third-party companies that specialize in web accessibility training have extensive knowledge and experience in the field. They can provide up-to-date information on the latest accessibility standards, techniques, and best practices.
Objectivity: An external company can bring an unbiased perspective to your accessibility training. This can help ensure that your team receives objective, impartial training that focuses on the needs of users with disabilities.
Customized Training: A third-party company can customize its training programs to meet your organization’s specific needs, goals, and budget. They can also adapt their training materials to match your branding, terminology, and existing processes.
Comprehensive Coverage: Accessibility experts typically offer a wide range of training modules covering various aspects of web accessibility, including introductory courses, advanced topics, and specialized subjects.
Flexibility: External training providers often offer flexible scheduling options, such as online or on-site training, to accommodate your team’s availability and learning preferences.
Cost-Effective: Outsourcing accessibility training can be cost-effective compared to developing and delivering an in-house training program. You avoid the costs associated with creating training materials, hiring and training instructors, and hosting the training events.
Saves Time: By outsourcing accessibility training, you save time and resources that would have been spent on researching, planning, and executing a training program internally. This allows you to focus on other critical areas while ensuring your team receives high-quality accessibility training.
Professional Certification: Many third-party accessibility training companies offer professional certifications upon completion of their training programs. This can help demonstrate your organization’s commitment to accessibility and provide a benchmark for measuring staff progress.
Ongoing Support: Some external training providers offer extended support beyond the initial training period. This can help ensure that your team has the necessary resources to maintain accessibility best practices over time.
Measurable Results: A third-party training company can help you measure the effectiveness of your accessibility training through assessments, quizzes, or other evaluation methods. This enables you to track progress, identify areas for improvement, and adjust your training strategy accordingly.
At TPGi, we design accessibility training courses that are focused on people, ensuring you gain buy-in from each team member and showing them how their role contributes to safeguarding accessibility. If you have questions about accessibility training and how TPGi can help you set up a quality program, contact us to learn more.