This year for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), I blogged about the bright spots and opportunities I’m seeing in my research on the digital accessibility space. One of those brights spots is that companies are clearly (and finally) making progress toward their accessibility goals. How do I know this? The questions I get from clients now focus on how to operationalize accessibility, not the basics of how to get started. To help the growing number of companies at this higher level of maturity with their accessibility programs, I’m taking on a new research project this year. I aim to help clients understand the technologies available to help them scale and report on the progress of their accessibility programs, starting with our just-published overview of the market, The Digital Accessibility Platforms Landscape, Q2 2023. Forrester defines digital accessibility platforms as:
Platforms used by companies to identify accessibility issues, facilitate remediation of issues, and monitor and report on the accessibility of their digital experiences.
What’s The Value Of A Digital Accessibility Platform?
Digital accessibility platforms help companies implement their accessibility policies with an end goal of creating effective, easy, and emotionally positive experiences for all customers, including those with disabilities. Specifically, they:
- Operationalize and scale accessibility testing and remediation. Accessible products depend on the accurate detection and speedy remediation of violations of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — the global standard for digital accessibility. To help teams find and act on accessibility barriers, digital accessibility platforms use a combination of automated testing, guided manual testing, and — in a few instances — usability testing. Awareness of accessibility is low in most organizations, so these platforms also help employees learn about accessibility through embedded education and/or remediation suggestions.
- Identify accessibility issues early in design and development. Shifting accessibility testing left is key to a successful accessibility program. It helps companies avoid costly remediation work after a product has launched. Most digital accessibility platforms include tools to help developers test and fix issues with their code while still in production. Depending on the breadth of the offering, some platforms enable designers to test their work in design workflow tools such as Figma. Others include features to gather input from end users with disabilities — a key ingredient for creating a great, not just compliant, user experience.
- Achieve and maintain compliance with accessibility standards. A good digital accessibility platform helps the enterprise know where each digital experience stands, track trends over time, identify common issues across or within teams to focus training efforts, and celebrate successes. It provides companies with the data they need to demonstrate compliance and meet contractual requirements when selling products or services to companies or government agencies that require accessibility. It also helps firms produce evidence of progress made toward implementing the company’s accessibility policy.
What’s Next For This Research?
Increased regulatory and legal pressure combined with corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments is leading to significant growth for this market. Our report aims to help buyers understand the options available to them and cut through the noise and confusion created by quick-fix accessibility products that Forrester doesn’t recommend for enterprise businesses. Up next on my research agenda is a Forrester Wave™ evaluation — our detailed guide for buyers considering their purchasing options in this technology market. Look for that to publish in October of this year!
How Do I Get In Touch?
If you’re a Forrester client, read my latest report, The Digital Accessibility Platforms Landscape, Q2 2023. It includes a list of 12 notable vendors offering these platforms, key use cases that these vendors support, and functionalities to look for when evaluating potential offerings. After you take a look, if you’d like to ask me questions or work through your buying decision, you can set up a conversation with me. You can also follow or connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like.