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In my last post in the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) Series I introduced the DAMM Audit, used to assess the level of maturity of a digital accessibility program and identify gaps between the current practice and industry standard best practices.

In preparation for a DAMM Audit, the organization will begin with a Kickoff meeting, followed by an Artifact Review and Operations Review.


At the beginning of the approved project, an audit director or designated audit project lead (either internal or from the external audit vendor) will teleconference with a designated organization project manager to confirm the goals, scope of work, time frame for the project, and other project specific information. The organization’s project manager will provide the audit team with access to any needed system and points of contact within the development group. During the kickoff meeting, the following activities will occur:

  • SOW Review– Review the project audit statement of work, and confirm scope and goals.
  • Project Plan Review– Prior to the start of a project, the organization will create a project plan reflecting their planned approach to performing the audit tasks, budget, timelines, and assumptions. During the project plan review, the draft project plan and timeline for the project will be reviewed and discussed among all project stakeholders.
  • Project Role Review– Review of all project stakeholders and their roles. This review will include an overview of any activities and resources needed by the audit team from the organization to complete the project in a timely fashion.
  • Project Communication Plan Review– Define organization and audit team’s primary and backup contacts for the project. This review will include a discussion of the escalation paths for project issues.

Upon completion of the kickoff meeting, the audit director or designated audit project lead will send an e-mail to all audit project participants that includes:

  • Definition of all project contacts and roles;
  • Definition of the project escalation path; and
  • The audit project plan.

On-site Activities

The first step of the on-site process is for the audit team to receive a walkthrough of the digital accessibility program as currently implemented by the organization. This walkthrough will provide an overview of the program as currently defined and operated by the program staff. The walkthrough should be provided by personnel who are familiar with the operationalization of the program across the entire enterprise. The walkthrough will occur in person at the organization’s site. The length of the walkthrough will vary based on the level of development of the digital accessibility program and the number of current program artifacts that need to be reviewed. A walkthrough generally requires at least half day to perform.

Artifact Review

To determine current accessibility program level of maturity, the audit team will review all current program artifacts, governing manuals, process and policy documents, procurement requirements, supporting training and, generally, any artifact used to support the program. This review will focus on understanding the core activities of the program and will allow the audit team to begin to classify program maturity at the level of dimensions. The review will use the versions of all policies and procedures that are currently deployed at the organization, unless otherwise directed by the client. These activities will provide a clear definition of current accessibility program status. While the audit team can review proposed and draft standards, clients should note that such an approach may bias the audit results towards projected maturity rather than actual, operational maturity.

Operations Review

After obtaining and reviewing the relevant artifacts, the audit team will work with the accessibility program office to review the current operational implementation of the accessibility program. Primary data gathering in this phase will focus on a series of interviews with managers and staff members involved with operationalization of the accessibility program. The interviews will gather data around the current processes as implemented versus abstractly defined.

The set of management and development staff to be interviewed will vary based on the depth of operational conformance analysis sought in this stage. In general, the audit team seeks to interview a meaningful sample of the development organization to understand how, in practice, digital accessibility is being implemented and validated by teams. As a minimum, the audit team must interview at least two individuals for each operational role involving accessibility across all teams.

As part of reviewing the operations, the audit team will routinely request follow-up documentation from interviewees to demonstrate the implementation of represented activities. For example, if a team represents that accessibility testing was completed, the audit team will ask for the accessibility test plan, accessibility testing results, and references to example bugs filed in relation to accessibility. In a similar fashion, when working with managers, the audit team may request an understanding of what accessibility bugs were approved as known issues in a release. While a cursory review of the specifics of each issue may be conducted, the purpose of this review is to generally understand the actual operating processes in place for handling issues, and the level of repeatability and management going into those accessibility and process improvement activities.

Coming Up

In my next post I’ll discuss the DAMM Audit Preliminary Observations, Findings, and Ratings steps.