Why Building Accessibility Consulting Teams Led by Those They Serve is Crucial

Accessibility is the practice of designing products, services and environments that are usable by people with disabilities. Accessibility consulting is the process of providing guidance and expertise on how to make accessibility a priority and a reality in different contexts and domains.

Accessibility consulting is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Different groups of people with disabilities have different needs, preferences and experiences that affect how they interact with technology and the world around them. Therefore, it is essential that accessibility consulting teams are led by the people that are being served, or at least include them as key stakeholders and collaborators.

Why is this important? Here are some reasons:

  • It ensures that the accessibility solutions are relevant, effective, and respectful of the users’ goals, challenges, and dignity. For example, a blind person may have a better understanding of how to test a screen reader interface than a sighted person who has never used one.
  • It empowers the users to have a voice and a choice in how they access information, services, and opportunities. For example, a deaf person may prefer to use sign language interpreters rather than captions or speech-to-text for certain situations. Sometimes, they might want both. Try not to force their hands.
  • It fosters a culture of inclusion, diversity, and innovation in the accessibility field. For example, a person with a cognitive disability may bring new perspectives and insights on how to simplify complex tasks or processes.
  • It creates opportunities for learning, mentoring, and networking among different groups of people with disabilities and accessibility professionals. For example, a person with a physical disability may share their expertise on how to make hardware devices more ergonomic and accessible.

How does Accessibility Global plan to build an exemplary model of an accessibility consulting team?

  • Involve the users from the start of the project and throughout its lifecycle. Seek their feedback, input, and approval on accessibility goals, requirements, design, testing and evaluation.
  • Hire or partner with people with disabilities who have relevant skills, knowledge, and experience in accessibility consulting. Provide them with adequate training, support, and recognition for their work.
  • Create a safe and supportive environment where everyone can communicate openly, respectfully, and effectively. Use accessible tools and methods that accommodate different communication styles and preferences.
  • Celebrate the diversity and achievements of the team members and the users. Recognize their contributions and value their perspectives.

    Building accessibility consulting teams that are led by the people that are being served is not only a good practice but also a moral obligation. It is a way of honoring the rights, dignity, and potential of people with disabilities. It is also a way of advancing accessibility and encourages universal design of products so it’s usable by as many people as possible.

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