Accessibility Participants, Managers, and Leaders

There are three groups of people in Accessibility: Participants, Managers, and Leaders. All are necessary but each wears a different hat. Which are you?

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Cartoon man in overalls with four arms in a super hero pose completely laden down with construction tools (screwdrivers, pliers, level, tape measure, trowel, paint brush, paint roller, drill)

Accessibility Participants

Accessibility participants come in a number of flavors. They can be:

  • Product Owners
  • Engineering managers/directors/executives
  • Developers (usually, but not always, UI)
  • Designers
  • UX Managers
  • Program managers
  • Procurement professionals
  • Human Resources or Diversity/Inclusion team members

Accessibility Managers

An accessibility program requires multiple participants and a manager at a minimum. The more participants the better. Accessibility Managers execute on the day-to-day accessibility programs the company needs to succeed.

Accessibility Leaders

An OK accessibility program can exist with an accessibility manager and a few accessibility participants. The program will improve the more participants that program has, and even more when those participant’s efforts are synchronized. But accessibility leadership, not just taking care of day to day accessibility activities, is required for a program to grow.

  • volunteering on one or more accessibility non-profit initiatives

“Which one are you?”

This was a trick question, anyone who works in accessibility is likely all of these.

  • I also participate in doing hands on testing, teaching classes, trying to persuade procurement to stop buying inaccessible software, and occasionally making reasonable accommodation or physical access recommendations.
  • I spend a fair amount of time as an accessibility manager. Pushing through purchase orders, assigning tasks, reviewing workflows, making recommendations on how to implement designs in an accessible manner, documenting documenting documenting.
  • I spend the remaining time as an accessibility leader. Watching the lightbulb go on about why something is important is probably my favorite moment in everything I do, because you know that no matter where that person works in the future, they will take the lightbulb with them. That joy is almost matched by creating a program that strategically ensures that employees with disabilities are treated as well and with as much deference as customers.

Written by

Accessibility Architect @ VMware. W3C Silver, ITI & IAAP GLC committees. Degrees in CS, law, business. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter.

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