Measuring progress in digital accessibility with the Maturity Model
As said elsewhere, it is important to systematically measure accessibility and to document progress. Especially if you pursue the goal of continuous improvement, you have to work with hard data. Everything else is perceived to be improving and will be conceded at the latest when management changes. As stated elsewhere, the database is fundamental to progress; controlling is one of the most important branches of managing an organization.
One way to do this is through the maturity model. There are different models here, each of which should be adapted to the organization.
- What is a Maturity Model?
- The structure of a maturity model:
- The application of the maturity model in digital accessibility:
- Why is the Maturity Model important?
- Factors for a maturity model for your organization
- For further reading
What is a Maturity Model?
A maturity model is a tool for evaluating and improving processes and practices in organizations or projects. It provides a structured method for assessing the maturity and effectiveness of activities in a specific area. In the context of digital accessibility, a maturity model aims to assess progress in creating accessible digital content. A well-known model comes from the Web Accessibility Initiative. In some cases, there are also models adapted to specific areeas such as universities.
The structure of a maturity model:
A maturity model typically consists of different maturity levels or levels that represent progress in a specific area. These levels are often referred to as maturity levels and can vary from model to model. A simple example of maturity levels in digital accessibility could be:
- Initial stage: At this stage, only basic accessibility measures have been taken and compliance with standards is minimal.
- Development: Increased efforts are being made to improve accessibility, but it is not yet fully integrated.
- Consolidation: Accessibility is an established practice in the organization, but there is still room for improvement.
- Excellence: The organization has achieved excellence in digital accessibility and serves as a role model for others.
The application of the maturity model in digital accessibility:
The application of a maturity model in digital accessibility often begins with a comprehensive assessment of the existing digital content and processes. This can include both an internal assessment and an external review by accessibility experts or testing bodies.
The results of this assessment can be used by organizations to determine their current level of digital accessibility maturity. On this basis, they can take targeted measures for improvement and develop a clear plan for achieving higher maturity levels.
A key benefit of applying a maturity model is that it allows organizations to track their progress over time and set measurable digital accessibility goals. This creates transparency and accountability and helps promote the integration of accessibility into the company culture.
Why is the Maturity Model important?
The Maturity Model is crucial in digital accessibility for several reasons:
- Measuring Progress: It provides a clear method to measure and track progress in creating accessible digital content.
- Resource Optimization: Organizations can allocate resources specifically to the areas where improvements are most needed.
- Accountability: A Maturity Model creates a clear basis for reporting and accountability regarding digital accessibility.
- Improving user experience: A higher level in the Maturity Model results in an improved user experience for everyone, regardless of their abilities.
Factors for a maturity model for your organization
The following factors can serve as the basis for a digital accessibility maturity model in your organization.
- Compliance with standards and guidelines: Compliance with recognized accessibility standards and guidelines is a crucial factor. This may include verifying compliance with standards such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
- Accessible technology: The use of accessible technologies, software and development tools is important. This includes the use of technologies that take into account the needs of people with disabilities.
- Organizational Commitment: The organization should have clear accessibility policies and commitments. This includes assignment of responsibilities, training and awareness activities.
- Accessible content and documentation: Evaluating the accessibility of websites, documents and multimedia content is crucial. This may also include providing accessible alternatives for inaccessible content.
- Accessibility assessments and testing: Conducting regular accessibility tests and audits, both automated and manual, is important to assess the status of accessibility.
- Training and Awareness: Educating employees and stakeholders on accessibility is critical. This can include training developers, designers and editors, but also raising awareness of the entire team.
- User feedback and user experience: Incorporating user feedback, especially from people with disabilities, and improving the user experience are important indicators.
- Internal development process: The degree of integration of accessibility into the entire development process, from conception to implementation, is important.
- Accessibility Certifications: Participation in independent accessibility audits and certifications can demonstrate accessibility maturity.
- Accessible communication: The ability to communicate accessible with people with disabilities is an important aspect of digital accessibility.
- Monitoring and Reporting: Monitoring accessibility and reporting on progress are critical factors in tracking accessibility status.
- Integration of accessibility into the corporate culture: The integration of accessibility as a fundamental principle into the corporate culture is particularly important.
As always, a maturity model is not there to be looked at. The survey should be the first step in an accessibility strategy. This also includes regular checks for further improvements and, of course, starting measures where weaknesses have been identified.
In general, the maturity model is particularly suitable for large and complex organizations such as universities and authorities.