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The case for a single standard of accessibility and how your organisation can build one


By Neil Milliken, Atos – Member of Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce

As a business with offices in numerous different countries, we needed a way to champion good practice and improvement in accessible technology beyond the UK.

Doing this stops different teams from pursuing accessibility in diverging ways and instead puts down a single standard for pursuing improvement in an objective way.

The question is how businesses can do it.

At Atos we found a way forward using the Business Disability Forum’s Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM) in 2016. As a member of Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce, I had helped design and author the AMM, along with Barclays, GlaxoSmithKline, and government departments, so I knew it would work well for Atos.

The AMM is designed to establish a performance baseline for IT accessibility within an organisation. It sets out a series of accessibility requirements based on existing formal standards, and enables users to go beyond minimum compliance to bring greater benefits to their business.

assitive-technology-at-desk-e1522250696637The AMM provides what you could call a ‘passionate metric’ and truth-telling tool. It is based on evidence, using data from current work, but in presenting that evidence against set goals for improvement, it shows a way forward. This objective evidence is key in securing support for managers and senior leaders.

Meanwhile, the presentation of the model as a framework allows for continuous review. We did this every 6-12 months in each office where we ran the AMM, starting with the UK and moving on to the USA and then to Northern Europe.

By guiding teams through the use of the Model and securing the advocacy of senior champions, I was able to oversee continuous development to the point where accessibility became a given in development of IT.

The fact that the AMM is a best practice standard was a great help in taking it to other countries with other legislative environments. It takes the focus of conversations away from compliance towards good practice.

Aside from the formal framework, using the AMM is another way to ‘bang the drum’ for digital accessibility. It provides objective evidence and universal standards for teams to use.

Assitive-keyboardNow more and more companies are working across multiple countries, with different legal frameworks and requirements, there is great utility in having a single ‘standard’ based on best practice and business rewards. In the same way companies hoping to achieve standard practice across different teams in different offices or locations do well to put the emphasis on a single, widely used metric.

About the Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM)

The Accessibility Maturity Model is a management tool developed by Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce, with contributions from Atos, Barclays, GlaxoSmithKline, HMRC and the Department of Work and Pensions.

The Model helps managers and IT teams to embed accessibility and inclusive design as standard practice.

More information about the Accessibility Maturity Model can be found on our website.

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