June 24, 2020

Beyond Accessible Documents: Implementing Accessibility Throughout Your Organization

Jen Goulden | Accessibility Compliance Specialist
screen shot of PRO Designer

Document accessibility discussions tend to focus on how to comply with the various standards and guidelines for a given format, and rightly so. Making your documents accessible is essential, but there are also some bigger picture issues to consider.

Whether you’re new to this field or not you are probably aware that a vast majority of customer communications products were not designed with accessibility in mind. To further complicate the issue, document design and accessibility compliance experts often work in completely separate areas of an organization. Developing closer connections between accessibility and design teams can mean that document accessibility is factored into file and content creation from the beginning of a project. For instance, if you can work with the document design team at the outset you may be able to suggest alternatives to using typeface or color as the only means of conveying information. You may also be in a position to give more general guidance on how to design documents with accessibility in mind. This in turn will make it easier and more cost-effective to provide accessible documents to your end-users.

Another aspect of implementation is the connection between accessibility experts within your organization and the front line representatives who are the primary contacts with your customers. It’s important to provide them with training so that they can accurately and appropriately communicate the services you offer with regard to accessible formats. Legislation aside, accessible information is not an added bonus for customers with print-related disabilities, and the availability of content in accessible formats is often a deciding factor when choosing a service provider. In other words, if a potential customer contacts your organization asking if they can get their statements in braille, your representative’s response could determine whether or not you gain a new customer.

Here are some other items to bear in mind with regard to customer experience:

  • Are your websites and customer portals accessible? If your documents are compliant but customers can’t access them, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
  • What is your organization’s process for requesting accessible documents? If customers must complete a form, this must also be accessible.

A final point to consider is that you likely have employees who require accessible documents as well. This means working closely with your HR team to ensure that internal documentation – such as onboarding materials and company policies – are included in your organization’s strategy for document accessibility implementation.

Making information available in accessible formats is essential in meeting compliance, but a truly effective accessibility strategy creates a positive customer experience that can give you the leading edge over your competitors.