Working Towards a Mature Accessibility Culture at Emids 

As organizations recognize the importance of creating inclusive environments for those with disabilities, they may struggle with where to begin. At Emids, we used a systematic approach to evaluate our current state of accessibility and developed a strategic plan for improvement. By sharing our story, we hope to inspire other companies to work towards maturing their accessibility culture, while also seeing the value in doing so.  

Exploring Accessibility Maturity Models 

It is critical to assess our current state of accessibility before we try to improve it. To do this, we reviewed different accessibility maturity models (AMMs). An AMM is a ready-to-use self-assessment tool that allows organizations to evaluate their current state of accessibility, while curating a roadmap for the future.  

There are a variety of accessibility maturity models that are publicly available. When choosing the model to adopt, we considered various factors. We evaluated which models’ dimensions best suit our needs. We also considered complexity and viability, such as the required resources for evaluation using the model. Lastly, we considered the guidance and clarity that was provided on how to use each model.  

The Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) best suited our needs at Emids. This model, similar to a rubric, consists of five dimensions scored using five levels. The dimensions and their corresponding goals are as follows:  

  • Vision: The organization has a clear vision about why and how it is adopting accessibility. 
  • Leadership: The organization is committed to investing in people and resources needed to deliver its vision. 
  • Processes: Accessibility activities are embedded in every stage of the project development lifecycle. 
  • Capability: The organization has the skills, tools, and resources to deliver its vision. 
  • Procurement: The organization ensures that purchasing decisions are compliant and contribute to its vision. 
Linear presentation of the digital accessibility maturity model dimensions and goals with the five levels of maturity listed in a hierarchical order: level 1 stands for informal. level 2 for defined, level 3 for repeatable, level 4 for managed and level 5 for optimal.

Researching our Current Accessibility Landscape 

By following a roadmap to keep us on track and accountable, we evaluated the model’s dimensions based on the five levels. We started with secondary research to better understand accessibility and best practices to curate a mature accessibility culture within organizations. For instance, we assessed industry standards and other leading companies’ accessibility initiatives. We looked inwards to see what exists within the organization when it comes to accessibility (e.g., training, tools, policy, etc). Then, we held interviews with leadership to get their perspective on the state of accessibility and asked them questions relevant to the model to better evaluate it. Lastly, we implemented targeted employee surveys across distinct teams to achieve a comprehensive assessment of accessibility within the organization.  

Recommendations for Building an Organization’s Accessibility Program 

In the journey to creating an all-encompassing accessibility program, there are several foundational building blocks that organizations should consider. Based on what we learned from the organization-wide audit exercise, we propose that organizations focus on these five building blocks: Leadership, education, culture, policies, and tools. 


First and foremost, leadership plays a pivotal role. It’s not sufficient for leadership to merely give approval or the proverbial “green light”; they must actively drive the initiative towards accessibility maturity. Achieving accessibility isn’t a passive endeavor—it requires leaders to champion the cause. Having leadership buy-in ensures that there’s ownership, accountability, and a continued emphasis on prioritization and awareness throughout the organization. For example, having an executive sponsor in the organization to support accessibility initiatives and secure a budget for implementation can significantly benefit an organization’s accessibility program. 


Education is another significant pillar. To foster a culture of accessibility, organizations need to devise a clear education plan marked by regular, efficient initiatives. This will not only build awareness but will also ensure that accessibility remains at the forefront of company conversations. Starting with foundational education on subjects like accessibility, diversity and inclusion is crucial. These topics should then be incorporated into mandatory trainings for all employees. Once a baseline understanding is achieved, the learning journey should be furthered through additional initiatives, such as workshops and inviting guest speakers. It’s also pivotal to encourage team and role-specific education. Making educational resources readily available and promoting spaces where knowledge can be shared will bolster the learning curve. 


Shifting gears to culture, every organization aiming for inclusivity should prioritize building a network of champions and allies. These are individuals who are not only passionate about accessibility but are also committed to driving the initiative forward. Ideally, these champions should be integrated into a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) group. After all, true inclusion is impossible without considering accessibility. By empowering these champions with the right knowledge and tools, they can become experts on the topic and lead the charge. 


On the front of policies, organizations need clear, enforceable, and adaptable guidelines. Every policy should come with a severity rating, educating employees on the potential consequences of breaches. Exceptions to these policies should be rare and only granted through formal requests to leadership following a standardized process. Moreover, whenever new policies are introduced, they should be promptly communicated. It’s essential that employees are clear about what’s expected of them, particularly in terms of their roles and responsibilities around accessibility. 


Lastly, in terms of tools, employees should be provided with all the necessary resources to seamlessly incorporate accessibility into their daily roles. Standardizing which tools are to be used by specific roles ensures consistency and efficiency throughout the organization. 

The Path to Improvement 

It is worth highlighting that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Depending on an organization’s structure and goals, adopting multiple models for its accessibility maturity assessment might be necessary. Also, we understand that the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) goes beyond a one-off application; it can assist us in creating a roadmap and tracking our progress. Like other initiatives, trying to implement all five dimensions at this stage could be overwhelming. Instead, our approach is to prioritize one or two dimensions at a time. Following best practices, we begin with vision and leadership. Finally, setting reasonable goals will serve as motivation for timely progress. 

Now, more than ever, our company is motivated to improve our culture, since we have a tangible plan using the model and applying best practices. With a well-defined plan and prioritization, we can surely improve our accessibility program. We encourage other companies to follow this path – assess where you stand, create a strategic plan for improvement, and start making that positive change. Inclusive future begins with your action today. 

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