Near the end of this article, you can try out the Avocado model for measuring accessibility maturity. But first, please read a little about the background:
We often audit accessibility for organizations that need to know what accessibility improvements are required by law or needed in order to offer better service and reach a larger audience.
These audits focus on the digital services (websites, apps, documents and content in social media). They are an efficient way to find problems, that can often be easily fixed. But they do not show the overall status of accessibility in the organization.
Often, we combine the audits with education and other efforts intended to increase the ability of the organization to improve and maintain digital accessibility.
News: Measure the organization's maturity
Recently, the W3C published a draft proposal for a new way of measuring accessibility. More specifically, the proposal lists seven dimensions of accessibility maturity:
- Communication - Covering, among other things, the accessibility measured by traditional audits.
- Knowledge and Skills - Assessing the preparedness of the organization to maintain accessibility skills.
- Support - Can the organization support employees and customers who need assistance?
- ICT Development Life Cycle - Is accessibility considered during all relevant phases of development? Including design, prototyping, selection of tools, programming, testing, deployment...
- Personnel - Is the HR department mature with regard to accessibility?
- Procurement - Can the organization acquire accessible solutions?
- Culture - How does leadership prioritize accessibility?
In all of these dimensions, the W3C model is meant to be able to determine a maturity stage:
- Inactive - Largely unaware.
- Launch - Aware of needs, and beginning to address them.
- Integrate - Promising progress.
- Optimize - Mature stage.
The W3C also published a draft spreadsheet document listing a large number of "proof points". A maturity stage can be calculated if the organization ticks off all the proof points it has reached.
I haven't seen any formula for calculating an overall maturity measure, but of course this can be done.
The model isn't fully ripe yet
The W3C specification is published as a "Note", meaning there's no immediate plan to make it a formal "Recommendation" (W3C standard). But in any case, the note is open for comments. In a way, this article is a comment.
While the W3C documents (the note and the spreadsheet) currently are not ready to be directly applied in practice, they are already very valuable source of ideas and inspiration for any organization wanting to take further steps on their path to digital accessibility!
Try the Avocado model!
While waiting for the W3C model to mature, we made a simplified and playful version of it. We call it the Avocado model for accessibility maturity, because if there is one property that defines avocado quality it is maturity. Also, the "proof points" appear as on-off switches, and they, too, remind of the delicate vegetable. :)
Here, you can play around with the model and quickly get a preliminary hint at how mature your organization is:
Knowledge and Skills Inactive
ICT development Inactive
Overall maturity InactiveThis tool is inspired by the W3C model, but it only covers a small fragment and everything is very much a draft. For example, users should be given the option of excluding proof points that aren't relevant to them. In other words: Subject to change!
What do you think about models like this? Would you like to explore this further? How mature is your organization?