Building a community of practice for digital accessibility

Promoting digital accessibility is important to ensure that people with different abilities and needs have equal access to digital content and technologies.

An effective way to achieve this goal is to build a digital accessibility community of practice (CoP). A CoP is a group of people who come together on a voluntary basis to share knowledge and experiences, solve problems and develop best practices. This post explains steps and principles for building such a community.

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What is a CoP?

A CoP is a platform for the informal exchange of ideas and resources and collaboration to improve digital accessibility for people with disabilities. It is also an advisory body that can discuss issues that go beyond pure accessibility guidelines.

It can consist of disabled people and interested people. It makes sense that those involved have an interest in what they are advising on.

One should not underestimate the resources needed to set up and organize such a group: someone has to find the people, bring them together, keep them on track, inform them, organize and moderate meetings and much more.

Benefits of a CoP

A community of practice can have the following benefits:

Knowledge exchange: A CoP provides a platform for the exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices in the field of digital accessibility. Members can benefit from the insights and challenges of others.

Learning and training: The CoP enables continuous learning and training regarding digital accessibility. Members can learn from experts and update their knowledge to stay current.

Raising awareness: The CoP can help raise awareness of the importance of digital accessibility. This can help more people become aware of this issue and take action.

Collaboration: Collaboration within the CoP can help launch joint projects and initiatives to improve digital accessibility. Joint efforts can lead to better results.

Networking: The CoP offers the opportunity to make valuable professional contacts. This can be helpful in identifying professionals and organizations working on similar topics.

Quality control: The CoP can help develop and promote quality standards and guidelines for digital accessibility. This is important to ensure that digital content is accessible to everyone.

Support and advice: CoP members can support and advise each other on challenges related to digital accessibility. This can help solve problems effectively.

Innovation: By exchanging ideas and experiences, innovative approaches to digital accessibility can be developed. This can help promote new solutions and technologies.

Influence: A well-connected CoP can influence policymakers, companies and other stakeholders to emphasize the importance of digital accessibility and bring about change.

Identify the target group

The first step in building a digital accessibility CoP is to identify the target audience. These can be professionals, developers, designers, content creators and others interested in digital accessibility. It is important to ensure that members have a common interest in this issue.

Define the goals and purposes:

Clear goals and purposes are crucial to the success of a CoP. The goals could be to develop best practices, share knowledge, provide training, or identify and eliminate digital barriers.

Create a platform for communication:

An effective communication platform is crucial. This could be an online forum, a mailing list, social media or regular meetings in person or via video conference. The platform should provide members with the opportunity to share ideas, questions and resources.

Identify experts and resources

Experts and resources should be identified within the CoP that are available to help members solve problems and develop their skills. This can be external experts, training materials, research results or best practices.

Promoting participation:

Member participation is crucial. It should be actively promoted by offering interesting topics, discussions and activities. The CoP should be a place where members enjoy spending time and learning from others.

Collecting and sharing resources:

Members should be encouraged to collect and share resources such as guides, checklists, tools and training materials. This promotes collaboration and makes it easier to access relevant information.

Establishing best practices:

The CoP should develop and promote best practices in digital accessibility. This can be through collaborating on projects, testing websites for accessibility, or developing guidelines and standards.

Evaluate and adapt:

The CoP should regularly evaluate its effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary. This can be done through surveys, member feedback and analysis of activities and results.

Measuring success:

The success of the CoP can be measured by criteria such as increasing awareness of accessibility, improving the digital accessibility of projects and active participation of members.


Anyone who participates in a CoP should also receive remuneration from a certain level. Often these are people who work or are otherwise employed or who could really use financial help. One should not assume that the CoP always works for free. At the same time, one must also take into account that organizing the CoP also costs work and appropriate resources must be made available.

who should set up a CoP?

A CoP only makes sense if there is a corresponding need or is generated. It can be useful for large authorities or municipalities, for example. Here you can and should also rely on people from the workforce or residents of the community, as there is a natural connection here.

Even large agencies that work a lot in the area of accessibility/inclusion can set up a CoP and make its services available to the customer. The problem so far is that there is not much demand for it from customers or that it is not paid for.

What else is important

As a disabled person, you don't always have the impression that your own expertise is valued. We know enough committees in Germany that discuss and make decisions without disabled people. Or the participation is carried out pro forma and the ideas submitted are completely ignored.

A CoP can only be successful if communication takes place at eye level. This does not mean that every idea can or must be implemented - that is often not possible. But at least you should make the effort to explain the rejection of ideas or adapt solutions.

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