This blog was contributed by Kyle Pelligrino-Hartman, Solutions Engineer at Level Access 

Key takeaways:

  • Brands are more likely than ever to ask about, or require, accessibility across all of their digital touchpoints in order to create better customer experiences, fulfill their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and minimize legal risk.
  • It takes more than a single line of code or a few automated scans to ensure digital experiences are accessible. Sustainable accessibility requires technology, human interaction, training, enablement, change management, and legal guidance.
  • To complement their customer experience (CX) strategies, digital agencies need a trusted business partner with extensive digital accessibility capabilities—and, critically, one that integrates seamlessly into their existing workflows with clients.

The issue:

Today’s leading brands want to deliver the best in customer and digital experiences, and rely on cutting-edge agencies for the strategy and execution to bring those digital experiences to life. And now more than ever, brands are expecting these experiences to be accessible, recognizing that different users will interact differently with digital content and fulfilling their DEI commitments.

As the best brands develop digital accessibility requirements and policies, agencies may be challenged to find the most effective approach across the entire problem space to deliver accessible digital experiences to their customers. Some may have partnered with digital accessibility vendors in the past but found the partnership only delivered point-in-time solutions. Or, they may have encountered expensive consultants that competed for client share of wallet. Others are hiring and training specifically to support these client needs.

However, the breadth of technology, expertise and client-organization support needed to properly incorporate accessibility is challenging to develop in-house—as well as time-consuming and expensive. A dependable accessibility partner should provide agencies the comprehensive capabilities they need to achieve sustainable accessibility, with a business model based on agency and client success.

What it takes:

Digital accessibility can’t be secured through automated scans alone. It requires a broad range of capabilities and engagement as early as possible in the research and initial design stages of digital experience development:

  • Coaching and workflow support to help agencies and their clients understand how digital accessibility fits into their business, operations, and execution.
  • Comprehensive evaluation support, powered by software and trained professionals. This should include manual evaluation to ensure the way in which a user engages with an experience is accessible and supports that user’s assistive technology, such as a screen reader. It should also involve design reviews, so developers are only working on experiences that are accessible-by-design.
  • A platform that enables automated scanning and centralizes visibility to results. This should be accompanied by expert prioritization and process guidance to ensure the most important user flows and critical issues are addressed first and limited resources are deployed where they have the greatest impact.
  • Integrations to issue tracking and project management systems to simplify the adoption of digital accessibility into development processes.
  • Training and enablement to help partner and client teams “level-up” their accessibility skills so experiences are more likely to be accessible-by-default.
  • And, critically, the legal expertise to provide advice and recommendations to mitigate clients’ future risk, and ongoing support to help the client respond to any potential litigation that may arise regarding accessibility barriers.

The fastest way for agencies to deliver accessible experiences to their clients is to partner with a vendor that offers this full set of capabilities and has the robust enterprise experience to support and collaborate at any scale.

The solution:

Digital agencies need digital accessibility partners who understand the common trajectories of their work with clients and can integrate with their current processes, embedding accessibility at all the right checkpoints to rapidly scale them to best-in-class. This can involve wireframe reviews in the design phase, automated testing guidance for the development phase, and other focused support to deliver accessible experiences. Working in this aligned manner, with an accessibility partner who’s able to deliver value right from the project’s discovery phase, will minimize the impact to project timelines while maximizing the accessibility of each deliverable.

Of course, it’s important to remember that stronger agency-accessibility vendor partnerships aren’t just about efficiency and maximizing ROI. They also mean increased opportunities to raise awareness with clients about the importance of accessibility in digital transformation efforts. As a result, brands become more likely to consider accessibility when making large business decisions. And that means equal digital opportunities for people with disabilities, and better user experiences for us all. By partnering with a digital accessibility vendor that understands the big picture, digital agencies are equipped to create a more accessible digital world, one client project at a time.

Ready to partner

Level Access offers the unique Accessibility-as-a-Service model providing all of the capabilities agencies and client organizations need to achieve and maintain digital accessibility and ADA compliance. Working with partners like Gorilla Group, 85SIXTY, and BVA Commerce, we help the world’s biggest brands and enterprise organizations—brands like Samsung, Hertz, and Marriott—accelerate their digital accessibility success. Reach out to our dedicated partner team today. Together, we can create great customer experiences that work for everyone.