Whether you’re getting started with digital accessibility or scaling a program across your organization, it can be challenging to define success. How do you know whether you’re on the right path? What aspects of your practice should you focus on improving?

To help organizations understand what makes an exemplary digital accessibility program, and confidently benchmark their performance over time, we created the Level Access Digital Accessibility Maturity Model™ (DAMM™). In this article, we’ll explain what the model provides, and how organizations of all sizes, and with all levels of digital accessibility experience, can use it to make sustainable progress and expand their impact.

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.

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.

DAMM dimensions

The seven dimensions referred to in DAMM are like threads that weave together to form 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 of maturity are:

  1. Governance and policy: How well established is accountability for digital accessibility at your organization, through clear ownership, internal commitments, risk management planning, and investment strategies?
  2. Communications: How effectively is your organization communicating about digital accessibility initiatives? And are communication channels accessible?
  3. Development life cycle: How effectively is digital 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, and chat applications) and guidance documentation are accessible and inclusive?
  5. Procurement: How effectively is digital accessibility evaluated and addressed in vendor selection, purchasing, and contracts?
  6. Knowledge and skills: How well is digital accessibility training implemented and managed across your 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 digital inclusion?

Contact us

Levels of maturity

DAMM describes organizational accessibility maturity and is a different measurement method than accessibility conformance testing on specific digital properties. Our maturity model offers a holistic, program-based view that goes beyond just the product development life cycle and addresses all the operational aspects necessary to support accessibility across an organization. With five defined levels of 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

The organization is typically performing digital accessibility activities in an ad-hoc, uncontrolled, and reactive manner.

Level 2 — Repeatable

A limited number of repeatable processes are starting to produce increasingly consistent results but are not yet adopted across the entire organization.

Level 3 — Defined

Well-defined processes, increased knowledge, and skills are distributed across the organization with clear roles and responsibilities. The organization is beginning to “shift left” with digital accessibility baked in.

Level 4 — Managed

The organization is actively measuring effectiveness, tracking improvements, and predicting issues before they occur. Digital accessibility is sustainable with inclusive best practices as part of organizational priorities.

Level 5 — Optimizing

The organization is focused on innovation, standards, and continually optimizing digital accessibility organization-wide. They are championing an inclusive culture and participating in external activism to drive change in the industry.

Level Access DAMM Assessment

Wherever you are on your digital accessibility journey, using a maturity model such as DAMM can help you determine your organization’s 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 team will guide you through a comprehensive assessment, expert analysis, and tailored recommendations for practical growth.

Supporting sustainable 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.