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Accessibility Change Management

A bent-over person with a large block of stone on his back where a huge hand helps him to reduce the burden.

Recognizing the necessity for accessibility change is one thing, but knowing how to implement it effectively is another challenge altogether. Where does one begin? Who should be involved? How can it be successfully executed from start to finish?

Whether you are considering a minor alteration to a few processes or a comprehensive transformation within an organization, it is natural to feel worried and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand.

Change has become the norm rather than the exception in today’s world. Our society’s ever-evolving nature, driven by new initiatives, project-based work, technological advancements, and the need to stay ahead of the competition, continuously shapes the way we operate.

What hasn’t changed?

The fundamental goals underlying accessibility and inclusiveness transformations remain unchanged:

  1. Increase Revenue / Profits or Decrease Costs.
  2. Become more Effective or Efficient.
  3. Serve more Customer Needs.
  4. Comply with legal requirements.

The Change Management Model

The 4 Principles: Head + Heart, Have to + Want To, Leadership + Management, and Select Few + Diverse Many

Our approach to accessibility change is based on scholarly contributions and practical experience.

Extensive research has examined the reasons behind organizations’ and individuals’ varying performance levels using Dr. John Kotter’s model, widely recognized as the leading authority on change.

The ongoing research is built upon a comprehensive comprehension of:

  1. Successful strategies, principles, and techniques for managing complex change.
  2. The shortcomings of conventional organizational structures.
  3. Human behavior and how we react to challenges and possibilities.

You can do this…

…by taking the lead in accomplishing an inclusive culture with our assistance, identifying appropriate collaborators, and effectively conveying the common goal.

It’s recommended that organizations avoid creating their own plan for audits, training, and tools, followed by searching for assistance. We can help develop the plan by starting with an Analysis of the WHY behind the plan and providing evidence to support the underlying rationale.

“You can lead change in your organization – here is our method to achieve it.”

Jake Abma

Together, we can highlight its importance to individuals who possess the required resources.

The 8 Accelerators of Accessibility Change Management

The 8 Accelerators of Accessibility Change Management

The award-winning methodology is the proven approach to producing lasting change.

  1. Create a Sense of  Urgency
  2. Build Guiding Coalition
  3. Form a Strategic Vision
  4. Enlist a Volunteer Army
  5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Sustain Acceleration
  8. Institute Change

1. Create a Sense of Urgency

Leaders must present the necessary opportunity to become more accessible and inclusive in a way that resonates with individuals and teams emotionally and intellectually. Creating and maintaining a sense of urgency for successful transformations is crucial.

Identify and communicate this opportunity, understand success and the risks of failure, focus on customer needs where organizations can align their workforce, and drive accessibility change effectively.

Establishing a feeling of urgency begins by determining the priorities and projects that require immediate accessibility. Then, assess the necessary tools to propel these initiatives forward and have the courage to question or reconsider outdated thought patterns.

Results: Your organization benefits from an unparalleled level of preparedness to become more accessible throughout the workforce.”

Finally, it is beneficial for the entire organization to be genuinely committed and become more inclusive. This makes it necessary to initiate accessibility awareness efforts and unconscious bias training and communicate clearly and compassionately how these efforts will distinctly influence the organization.

2. Build a Guiding Coalition

Four people standing next to each other where each is holding one card with the text: “Lets, Put, Change, To Work!”

A network of dedicated accessibility champions who volunteer their services along with a diverse multitude involved is the central hub of the 8-Step Process and takes many shapes. 

Without a Guiding Coalition, the organization will persist in relying on conventional, hierarchical methods of operation, which will not benefit accessibility in the long run.

It is imperative that the coalition comprises members from every layer of the hierarchy, representing all functions and receiving information about the organization from all levels and positions. This is to be able to apply the accessibility Shift-Left Principle where accessibility is taken into account as soon as possible in the process of creating systems. Their task is to merge this information and devise innovative approaches to work.

Results: You need more eyes to see, more brains to think, and more legs to act in order to accelerate your accessibility change efforts.”

Ensure the participation of key budget stakeholders and address their priorities. This is essential to prevent unexpected expenses, achieve objectives and compliance, and ensure a smooth and predictable delivery.

3. Form a Strategic Vision

A partial compass pointing north, with a text above: “Strategic Vision”

Merely presenting data and facts in the form of a WCAG audit is insufficient to persuade individuals. It is essential to consider both rational and emotional aspects, appealing to both the head and heart.

The hallmarks of an exceptional inclusive strategic vision must be based on a variety of business cases and include precise and synchronized actions that, when implemented swiftly and effectively, will bring your vision to fruition. This vision should be easily communicable and appealing, paint a vivid picture, and be adaptable, achievable, conceivable, and straightforward.

A compelling, inclusive strategic vision is based on a gap analysis and serves as a driving force that inspires individuals to take decisive action and effectively coordinates and aligns their efforts. Without such a vision, accessibility strategies may encounter difficulties in garnering support and engagement, necessitating the need to clear up how the future will diverge from the past and how this envisioned future can be transformed into reality.

Results: Link inclusive concepts to an overall vision that people can grasp easily and remember.”

To establish an inclusive strategic vision and initiatives, it is imperative to define a clear mission and articulate a desired set of outcomes that encompass various aspects such as efficiency gains, cost reduction, customer-centricity, and more. Recognizing the fundamental human needs for productivity, teamwork, and support is crucial in fostering a favorable environment for success.

4. Enlist a Volunteer Army

A group of people pointing upwards to the text: “Accessibility Change Management”

To create a volunteer army, individuals must be given the option to join and the genuine authority to take the initiative. Substantial transformation is achievable when a considerable number of staff unite around a shared goal and work towards it. The army must consist of budget holders, leads, and the workforce.

Motivate individuals to join the movement by providing them with a compelling reason. A strong vision is crucial in establishing a successful volunteer army. It is important to note that you do not need to involve everyone in the movement.

Once you have surpassed the 50% mark, you will achieve “stickiness”, and having approximately 15% of your organization actively involved will be sufficient to generate momentum for change.

Results: Focussed budgets, actions and initiatives, crafted by a diverse set of employees, validated by senior leaders will advance opportunity.”

By identifying the tasks that need to be accomplished and assessing the available resources, you will be able to devise innovative solutions that have never been attempted before. It is crucial to clearly understand the moving parts within your organization and align them with the business needs.

It is essential to create enthusiasm surrounding the significant opportunity for leaders and cultivate a sense of desire to contribute rather than feeling obligated to do so.

5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers

A brick wall of Lego blocks with the text “barrier” on it and two hands holding a hammer about to slam it.

Leaders recognize the importance of eliminating bureaucratic obstacles, such as outdated norms and inefficient processes, in order to foster an inclusive environment where employees can freely collaborate and transform innovative ideas into tangible outcomes.

To eliminate accessibility barriers, it is crucial to recognize them and focus on the need for communication, documentation, and training. Reflect on the reasons behind previous unsuccessful endeavors. Did they fail to start? Halt midway? Reach completion only to be abandoned?

Barriers often manifest as widely acknowledged statements that, despite seeming beneficial, hinder efforts to overcome long-standing challenges. Examples of such barriers include phrases like “It’s not the norm” or “We attempted that in the past, and it was unsuccessful.”

Results: Removed obstacles that slow things down or create roadblocks to accessibility progress.”

Common barriers encompass silos, restricted thinking, emphasis on meeting targets, contentment with the status quo, outdated regulations or protocols, and restricted interaction with essential stakeholders and decision-makers.

Establish the framework for implementing change through comprehensive documentation, consistently assess any obstacles that may hinder progress, and promptly eliminate them and reward the people doing so. It is imperative that crucial documents such as product policies and logs, the design system, and accessibility annotations are of exceptional quality.

6. Generate Short-Term Wins

A bowling ball hitting pins where they all fly away.

Effective wins within the first stages encompass any progress made, regardless of magnitude, that propels accessibility toward your desired outcome. These victories can manifest as implemented actions, acquired knowledge, enhanced processes, or exhibited new behaviors. Be sure to make them visible!

Acknowledging and celebrating these wins hold immense psychological influence and are pivotal catalysts. It is not just the winner or winners who are interested in the victory, but also motivates others such as team members, other teams, customers, stakeholders, and more.

These accessibility wins are clear, evident, and concrete, allowing people to reproduce or modify them. They will inspire more wins, boost morale, and help maintain a sense of organizational culture even with everyone remote from one another.

Results: Wins are the molecules of results. They must be recognized, collected, and communicated – early and often.”

Set milestones, identify and gather immediate accomplishments that can be attained, embraced, conveyed, visibly, and consistently ensured, establish benchmarks during the initial phases, and showcase the achievements.

7. Sustain Acceleration

A space shuttle accelerating into space

Having achieved a few accessibility victories, it may be tempting to ease off the accelerator after tasting success. However, now is the moment to intensify your efforts, leveraging those wins as a driving force to propel the change forward and create continuous improvements.

Initial victories merely mark the start of the extensive measures required to attain lasting change. Your growing credibility has the potential to enhance systems, structures, policies, and statements. Persist in initiating successive changes until the intended outcome becomes a tangible reality.

Results: You’ve made deliberate, well thought out, decisions that create sustainable accessibility improvements not relying on certain individuals but supported and secured by the organization.”

The organization must guarantee that accessibility is considered throughout every stage of the development life cycle of an ICT system by assigning responsibilities and implementing procedures. Incorporate appropriate activities in accordance with the established standards and organizational objectives, and that justifiable decisions are made if desired outcomes can not be achieved directly.

Sustain acceleration by revisiting urgency after generating some significant wins. It’s so easy to lose sight of the ultimate goal, which is to move the initiatives into the culture and sustain them. Get more and more people involved, always looking for ways to expand the volunteer army so you’ll find more barriers in need of knocking down. Remove them, too!

8. Institute Change

Group of joyful people holding hands in the air

For sustained adoption of new accessibility behaviors, it is crucial to clearly establish and convey the link between these behaviors and the overall success of the organization’s inclusivity values. Cultural shifts that endure only manifest once a significant transformation has taken place, not right at the outset.

Cultural changes occur after successfully modifying individuals’ behaviors and illustrating the correlation between new actions and enhanced performance. To ensure the longevity and effectiveness of new practices, it is crucial for them to be firmly established and integrated into every aspect of the organization. This requires seamless communication and coordination between the traditional hierarchical structure, focus on maturity, and the dynamic network of volunteers.

Results: Articulated connections between new behaviors and organizational success, make sure they continue until they become strong enough to replace old habits.”

To make it stick, find the progress and the results (both big and small) and celebrate these because there is progress being made every hour somewhere in the business.

Identify and communicate this progress as part of their daily routine and continue support.

Finally, in order to ensure the permanence of any change, it is crucial to assess the processes and integrate them into the fundamental structure of your organization. By consistently striving and prioritizing accessibility growth, the leaders will persist in their support.

The Accelerators is a part of the Change Management Cycles

At Max Inclusion we developed a holistic approach to start organizations becominging more accessible and inclusive, here are the six cycles:

  • Awareness
  • Benefits
  • Accelerators
  • Principles
  • Gap-Analysis
  • Maturity

It ensures that all organizations, regardless of their existing capabilities, can exceed expectations and apply change management procedures seamlessly within their already established culture.

This serves as a stepping stone to the Six Strategic Cycles and as a solid development of an initial plan, followed by a renewed strategy.

The six Accessibility Change Management Cycles