Whether you are new to digital accessibility or have been working on it for years, it can feel complicated. Understanding what success looks like can be difficult and nebulous at times. Where do you start? How do you know you are on the right path? How do you maintain progress? Have you considered all the areas or dimensions across your organization that are impacted by accessibility? Using a maturity model to understand what makes an exemplary digital accessibility program and how to measure your success over time will help you make confident progress along your accessibility journey.

A chart depicting the escalation of maturity in the Level Access Digital Accessibility Maturity Model. A series of bars that rise in height toward the right. Labels from left to right read: Initial, repeatable, defined, managed, and optimizing.

Figure 1: Visual representation of the five escalating levels of digital accessibility maturity.

To guide organizations grappling with these questions, and provide clarity, we created the Level Access Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM). In this article, we’ll explain what the model provides, and how it can be helpful to organizations of all sizes and with all levels of digital accessibility experience.

What is DAMM?

The Level Access Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) is a clear and concise method for measuring the maturity of digital accessibility programs. Based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), DAMM defines a working model to measure the degree of maturity a program has attained in implementing accessibility, using five levels of maturity to rate the current state of a program along seven dimensions.

DAMM dimensions

The seven dimensions referred to in DAMM are like the threads that weave together into a successful, sustainable accessibility program. Digital accessibility intersects with many facets of an organization and encompasses more than just meeting technical standards. DAMM’s seven dimensions or aspects of maturity are:

  1. Governance and policy — How well established is accessibility accountability at your organization through clear ownership, internal commitments, risk management planning, and investment strategies?
  2. Communications — How effectively is your organization communicating about accessibility initiatives? And are communication channels and efforts accessible?
  3. Development life cycle — How effectively is accessibility integrated into the creation of your organization’s digital products and content, resulting in inclusive experiences?
  4. Support — How well does your organization ensure that customer assistance channels (e.g., e-mail, phone, or chat applications) and guidance documentation are accessible and inclusive?
  5. Procurement — How effectively is accessibility evaluated and addressed in vendor selection, purchasing, and contracts?
  6. Knowledge and skills — How well is accessibility knowledge and skills training implemented and managed across the organization?
  7. Culture — How deeply ingrained are accessibility values in your organization’s culture and practices, resulting in a shared understanding of and commitment to inclusion, both internally and externally?

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Levels of maturity

DAMM describes what organizational accessibility maturity looks like and is a different measurement than accessibility conformance testing on specific digital properties. Our maturity model is a more holistic, program-based view that goes beyond just the development life cycle and addresses all the operational aspects necessary to support accessibility across the organization. With five defined levels of increasing maturity, DAMM can be used as an assessment tool to determine where an organization is implementing digital accessibility well and where process or policy gaps remain. An organization will likely have different scores across various dimensions that they are working on in parallel.

Level 1 — Initial

Accessibility processes at level 1 are generally undocumented and may be in a state of dynamic change. Processes, if they exist, are ad-hoc, uncontrolled, and inconsistent. An organization may be rated this way on a particular dimension if the organization is new to digital accessibility, or if the program pillar, such as training, is being newly introduced to the organization’s program. Initial attempts at a particular dimension are often reactive and driven by users or events.

Level 2 — Repeatable

This level is often represented by a limited number of repeatable processes that are producing consistent results. The organization recognizes the need for standard operating procedures in a given dimension to establish repeatability and improve performance.

Level 3 — Defined

At level 3, accessibility processes are well-defined and repeatable with demonstrated adoption across the organization. The focus is on implementing tools, systems, and procedures as documented to maintain performance in this dimension with increasingly consistent results.

Level 4 — Managed

When a dimension is rated at a level 4, the organization is actively managing standard accessibility processes and monitoring metrics for performance throughout the organization related to the dimension in question. At this level, “shifting left” by considering accessibility early in the planning and design process, reviewing standard procedures through the lens of inclusivity, and sustaining inclusive best practices are becoming part of organizational priorities.

Level 5 — Optimizing

At this level, the organization is focused on continually optimizing accessibility processes through progress monitoring and innovative improvements in a given dimension. Level 5 ratings across multiple dimensions often contribute to an inclusive culture, where accessibility becomes part of organization-wide ideals. Organizations with level 5 ratings across multiple dimensions usually also prioritize external activism to drive change toward digital accessibility in their industry.


A chart depicting an organization's self-assessment using the Level Access Digital Accessibility Maturity Model. This organization has ranked themselves as "Managed" on Governance and Policy, "Defined" on Communications and Procurement, "Repeatable" on Support and Knowledge and Skills, and "Initial" on Development Life Cycle and Culture.

Figure 2: Example of a self-assessment according to the DAMM with a score marked for each of the seven dimensions at different levels, one through five.

Level Access DAMM Assessment

Wherever you are on your journey, using a maturity model such as DAMM can help your organization determine your ability to produce accessible results over the long term. Consider the maturity level of your organization’s accessibility efforts within this context and contact us or your customer success manager for more information. Our Level Access team will guide you through a comprehensive assessment, expert analysis, and tailored recommendations for practical growth.

Want more insight into building your digital accessibility roadmap? Access our free, on-demand webinar hosted by Level Access CEO and digital accessibility pioneer, Tim Springer. Get an in-depth description of this model, plus a glimpse at the ideal accessibility journey for organizations of all sizes. Discover the immediate next steps your organization should consider for establishing a sustainable digital accessibility program.

Supporting smart growth

While many accessibility programs share the same goals, there are various pathways to success. Understanding your organization’s priorities and current digital accessibility maturity can help you identify next steps. Trust Level Access as your expert accessibility partner to support your current program and help guide you to achievable digital accessibility growth at a pace you can sustain. Reach out to our team today.