Accessibility Retrospectives

Reflect on your wins and identify things you wish had gone differently

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

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Woman taking photo reflected in car mirror
Photo by Jakub Gorajek on Unsplash

An agile retrospective (sometimes called a post-mortem) is a gathering of interested and involved parties at the end of a sprint to review the project’s events and learn from the experience. The main difference between retrospectives and post-mortems is that post-mortems are generally held at the end of a project (which may consist of multiple sprints) where agile retrospectives provide insights that you can implement in the next sprint of the same project. The term “post-mortem” also seems a little ghoulish and implies the death of a project.

No single individual knows a sprint’s whole story, each person holds their piece with their own perspective. Each person only has one piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle that is the full sprint story. The retrospective gathering is the collective telling of the story and identification of learnings that can be carried forward to future sprints. With an agile retrospective, you can look into a mirror at your reflection (and others can as well) to see what you can learn.

Accessibility-specific retrospectives can come in two forms:

  1. One point of view or aspect of a sprint retrospective;
  2. A standalone retrospective for a sprint that was 100 % about accessibility. This might include things like deploying a new VPAT creation strategy, or deploying new automated testing resources.

The following steps come from Agile Retrospectives — Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen.

Step 1: Setting the Stage

Retrospectives can be contentious if they turn into finger-pointing sessions. It is important to avoid the gathering degenerating into that by creating a safe space where everyone feels comfortable telling their piece of the sprint story.

Step 2: Gathering data

This is often done by looking back and identifying what went well and what did not. This is a good in-meeting post-it note exercise, but some attempt should be made to gather information before the meeting as well, especially if you have people who can’t make it.

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.