State of Colorado Accessibility Newsletter - January 2023

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Four Essential Steps for Successful Accessibility Change Management 

As we begin the new calendar year, it seems natural that you may want to implement or level-up your accessibility change management so that you finish the fiscal year strong. Although we’re all working toward the same goal, each team will be affected by the need for accessibility compliance in unique ways. 

Whether large or small, it is important to understand how this change will affect everyone so you can best prepare and train them. 

For some teams, it may mean hiring new positions specifically focused on accessibility. For others, it may mean a change in their workflow or process (e.g., website content creation, document publishing, development). 

The following is a summary of the next steps that you can take toward successfully preparing your organization’s teams for change. 

  1. Pull together a diverse IT Accessibility Workgroup (core team) and identify change leaders throughout the organization. Assembling your workgroup is also an important part of implementing accessibility governance at your organization.  
  2. Start with a great kickoff meeting to get the team excited about accessibility and lay out the available planning tools and resources.
  3. Meet with your HR team to identify key positions throughout the organization that will require accessibility training, tools, and resources.
  4. Meet with your organization's Communications team to create an internal and external communications plan.

State of Colorado Executive Branch agencies can learn more by reviewing the OIT Accessibility Change Management Guide for Consolidated State Agencies. Local government employees and employees at non-consolidated State of Colorado agencies and public entities, please email OIT_Accessibility@state.co.us if you have any questions. 

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Woman at the top of a steep mountain celebrating her successful completion of a difficult hike
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How to Identify Change Leaders in Your Organization

For a successful accessibility change management process, it’s important to identify key change leaders early. Certain managers or employees who are directly impacted by accessibility changes will appreciate being involved early on in making decisions and have insight as to how this change will affect their team. They can be extremely helpful in creating a positive experience for others. 

Change leaders aren’t just limited to the managerial ranks. They are employees whose influence extends beyond their job title. When you assemble your accessibility workgroup, identify change leaders in your organization. Look for coworkers who embody these characteristics: 

  1. Empathetic: change leaders consider the impact of everything they do and embed empathy in all aspects of their work. They have the emotional intelligence to help your organization adapt to change more readily. 
  2. Advocate: change leaders advocate for others. They are persuasive and passionate about making the world a better place.
  3. Adaptable: change leaders understand that to lead change, they must also be willing to change and adapt. The process of implementing change can itself change over time, so it’s important to have people who can adapt on your team.
  4. Forward-Thinking Planner: change leaders don’t rely on the way things have always been done. They see the big picture and take an organized approach toward implementing change. 
  5. Inspirational Communicator: change leaders proactively communicate the benefits of changes. They offer support and encouragement to employees at all levels of the organization. They encourage enthusiasm and buy-in from others. 
  6. Well-Informed: change leaders keep up to date with the latest developments in their field. When you are assembling your workgroup, it is important to include (at least a few) people who have robust knowledge about IT accessibility best practices. 
  7. Development-Oriented: change leaders maintain a sharp focus on professional development and help others develop, as well. Development-oriented people will help solidify any accessibility-related organizational changes. 
  8. Generous Collaborator: change leaders are team players and are generous with others. They share their tools and knowledge with their coworkers when they are needed. 
  9. Positive Go-Getter: change leaders are optimistic, but they also get the job done. They see challenges as opportunities to make a difference and recognize that change requires a solution-focused approach.
  10. Brave Leader: change leaders reinvent the rules. They love a challenge. They have the confidence and courage to lead others through the sometimes turbulent seas of organizational change. 

Local Government Spotlight

City of Colorado Springs - Maintaining Perspective on Accessibility Planning

By Kevin McDaniel (he/him) - Title II ADA Coordinator 

Getting started with your accessibility effort can seem overwhelming - so many considerations, twice as many constraints. However, it doesn’t have to be. Learning to zoom out to get a broader overview of your organization is a valuable skill that can help you overcome uncertainty and develop a more comprehensive and sustainable accessibility program. 

Here’s how to get started. 

Put all of your communication types in buckets

Resist the urge to dive into the first thing you “think” is the priority. Stay on the strategic level until you understand the entire scope. If you zoom in too early, you can get bogged down on the tactical level and miss other important aspects of the project. Zooming into the actual work of the project early on can also wear you down. When you identify new places in the organization that need your attention, you may skip a step because you’re underwater on one thing (and it’s likely not as important as you think). 

Instead, imagine all the ways your organization communicates and interacts with the public. For example, you could create a social media bucket, a website bucket, a documents bucket, a kiosk or POS (point of sale) bucket, phone, email, and so on. But it doesn’t have to be in that order. Breaking up the work into departments is fine too. The point is, don’t zoom in so early; this is a recipe for paralysis by analysis, literally.

Your buckets are “programs”

I like to think of my buckets as programs. I have a program to communicate with citizens via my website, which also serves as a public square, a customer service portal, and more. Social media is an outreach program. My programs are structured something like this: 

  • Websites
    • Public process
    • Permits, payments, etc.
  • Documents
  • Distribution of information
    • Applications
  • Email
    • Primary method of communication
    • Quick response feedback mechanism for City services and programs
  • Kiosk and POS systems
    • Improves customer experiences onsite

Once you have identified your buckets, you can begin to take inventory of everything in those buckets. How many websites do we have? How many documents are we publishing? Where are our contact points and points of sale? Eventually, all the work must be done, but from an ADA perspective, which bucket would be the highest priority? 

Staying at a high level initially allows you to think clearly about the issue as a whole. This will free up space for you to solve complicated problems; the type that usually fixes a lot of other problems once resolved (low-hanging fruit). For example, do you need to fix 1,000 documents right now or do you need to stop new documents from being published with accessibility issues? The latter offers a much more attractive return on your investment. 

Maintaining a broad perspective until you know exactly what needs to be done will help you keep a positive mindset about the entire initiative and prevent burnout from tasks that may not even be needed. 

Ultimately, whether it is done by you or someone who is yet to be hired, there is wood chopping ahead; that’s true. But you’ll never know what that actually looks like until you understand the problem completely. It may not be as overwhelming as you think. 


Accessible Copywriting - Diving Into Plain Language

Accessible content will reach the broadest audience. Last month, we began our two-part series on accessible copywriting. Accessible copywriting has two primary components: inclusive language and plain language. Inclusive language promotes more inclusion and equity for your audience. 

In Part Two, we are doing a deep dive into plain language! This style of copywriting makes your content easy to understand because it reaches audiences with a variety of reading levels and cognitive abilities. Learn how to utilize plain language best practices


Federal Rulemaking Notice for Kiosks

Please note that this information is provided to increase awareness about the proposed changes to federal kiosk regulations. The comment period for this proposed rule has closed. The TAP team is not able to pass along any comments you may have for this proposed rule. 


Notable & Quotable

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”

- Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America