In this article, we explore the importance of product accessibility compliance for product managers and provide a comprehensive guide on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help measure and improve accessibility.
As a product manager, ensuring that your product is accessible to everyone is not just a moral obligation, it’s essential for business success. Accessibility compliance goes beyond avoiding legal risks and catering to a wider customer base. It’s about creating a product that is truly inclusive and empowering for all users, regardless of their abilities. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of product accessibility compliance and how product managers can use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure accessibility and drive improvements.
Accessibility compliance is not just a checkbox that needs to be marked off for potential legal reasons. It’s about creating a product that can be used and enjoyed by all users regardless of their physical or mental abilities. By creating an inclusive product, you’re enabling people with disabilities to access and engage with your product to their fullest extent.
Product accessibility compliance is not only essential for ensuring that your product is accessible to everyone, but it's also a smart business decision. By making your product accessible, you're opening up your product to a wider audience, which can lead to increased sales and revenue.
Product managers play a crucial role in ensuring accessibility compliance. It’s up to them to make sure that accessibility is integrated into the product development process from ideation to launch. Product managers are responsible for setting accessibility targets, providing feedback to design and development teams, and ensuring that accessibility is an ongoing priority.
Product managers need to work closely with their design and development teams to ensure that accessibility is considered at every stage of the product development process. This includes conducting accessibility testing and working with assistive technology users to gain feedback on the product's accessibility.
Accessibility compliance is not just essential for a broader business success, it’s also ethically and legally mandated. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are just two examples of legislation that mandate accessibility compliance for digital products. Making your product accessible isn't only ethical, but it's also a legal requirement in much of the world.
By ensuring accessibility compliance, you're not only meeting legal requirements, but you're also doing the right thing. You're enabling people with disabilities to access and engage with your product, which can have a profound impact on their lives. Accessibility compliance is about creating a more inclusive society, and as product managers, it's our responsibility to ensure that our products are accessible to everyone.
Measuring and tracking accessibility compliance is fundamental for product managers. By using KPIs, product managers can set targets, track progress and iteratively improve a product’s accessibility status. Here are a few essential KPIs to consider:
An accessibility audit is an excellent way to identify how accessible your product is and highlight areas that need improvement. By using a combination of tools and manual testing, you can create an accessibility audit report that outlines the current accessibility status of your product including any errors or failures. From there, you can use the audit report to inform your product’s accessibility roadmap.
It is important to note that accessibility is not just about meeting a set of guidelines or standards. Accessibility is about ensuring that all users, regardless of their abilities, can access and use your product. Therefore, it is essential to involve users with disabilities in the accessibility audit process. By incorporating their feedback and insights, you can ensure that your product is truly accessible to all.
One of the most critical KPIs for product managers is setting and achieving accessibility targets. By setting concrete goals, product managers can track product accessibility progress over time and ensure that the product remains on track. Using the data from an accessibility audit, product managers can set targets for specific accessibility features or address particular accessibility issues.
It is crucial to prioritize accessibility improvements based on impact and feasibility. Addressing high-impact, low-feasibility issues first can make a significant difference in improving accessibility quickly. Conversely, addressing low-impact, high-feasibility issues first may not have as significant an impact on accessibility.
Reporting on accessibility KPIs is a fundamental way to keep teams and stakeholders informed on a product’s accessibility status. Creating a dashboard or regular reporting structure that outlines KPI progress can keep accessibility as a top priority item. Accessibility KPIs should be shared with your product team and, optionally, stakeholders such as sales, marketing, and legal. This helps to create accountability and ensures that accessibility remains a fundamental part of the product development process.
It is important to celebrate progress and successes in accessibility improvements. By acknowledging and celebrating successes, you can motivate your team to continue prioritizing accessibility and ensure that accessibility remains a top priority in future product development.
Creating accessible digital products is essential to ensure that everyone can access and use them. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) provide a comprehensive set of guidelines for creating accessible digital products, but it’s up to the product manager to prioritize those guidelines and ensure that they are implemented. Here are a few essential accessibility features and standards to consider:
WCAG is a globally recognized standard that outlines guidelines and success criteria for creating accessible digital products. It covers a wide range of accessibility barriers, from low contrast to missing alt descriptions and poor keyboard navigation. The guidelines provide a framework for addressing these barriers in product design, development, and content creation.
WCAG is divided into three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. Conformance to level AA is the minimum requirement for most websites and digital products. However, striving for level AAA conformance can provide even greater accessibility for users with disabilities.
WCAG is regularly updated to ensure that it remains relevant and effective. The current version, WCAG 2.1, was published in 2018 and includes new success criteria to address mobile accessibility, cognitive disabilities, and low vision.
ARIA is a set of attributes that Web developers can add to HTML to make it more accessible to people with disabilities, especially those using screen readers. ARIA provides additional information about the structure and functionality of web content, which can improve the user experience for people with disabilities.
Understanding the basics of ARIA attributes and how they can be used is key for product managers who are responsible for accessibility compliance. ARIA can be used to enhance the accessibility of complex web controls, such as menus, sliders, and tab panels.
Mobile apps are a burgeoning area for accessibility. As more and more people use mobile devices to access digital content, it’s essential to ensure that mobile apps are accessible to everyone.
Ensuring mobile app accessibility is a matter of verifying your product fits within operating system (OS) accessibility standards, such as Android Accessibility Suite (AAS) for Android or VoiceOver for iOS, and making sure you're conforming to guidelines within your platform and accessible development best practices.
Mobile app accessibility considerations include providing alternative text for images, ensuring that touch targets are large enough to be easily activated, and providing clear and concise instructions for completing tasks.
By prioritizing accessibility features and standards, product managers can ensure that their digital products are accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities.
Accessibility is not just a buzzword in product development, it’s a crucial aspect that should be integrated into every stage of the process. By doing so, product managers can ensure that their products are usable and accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities.
Product managers should consider accessibility from the very beginning of the product design process. Creating accessible design guidelines is a great way to ensure that accessibility is built-in from the start. These guidelines can help designers create interfaces that are easy to navigate, with clear and concise language, and that are easy to use with assistive technology.
Screen reader technology is a great tool for reviewing interface components and ensuring that they are accessible to everyone. By checking designs against WCAG guidelines, product managers can ensure that their products meet industry standards for accessibility.
Developers play a crucial role in ensuring that products are accessible. Product managers should work closely with developers to ensure that coding standards follow accessible development best practices. Developers should understand how to use tools and code snippets to ensure accessibility compliance.
Implementing an accessibility checklist into the code review process can help enforce accessibility development standards. This can include things like ensuring that images have alt text, that form fields are labeled correctly, and that color is not the only means of conveying information.
Once accessibility features are implemented, they need to be tested to ensure that they are working as intended. Accessibility testing should be done on a regular basis and should involve a combination of manual and automated testing.
User testing with assistive technology users from different backgrounds, using different platforms and operating systems, can help you identify real-world issues faster. This can include testing with users who are blind or have low vision, users who are deaf or hard of hearing, and users with mobility impairments.
By implementing these strategies, product managers can ensure that accessibility is integrated into every stage of the product development process, resulting in products that are usable and accessible to everyone.
Product accessibility compliance should be a priority for all product managers. Not only is it morally and ethically essential, but it’s also vital for business success. By setting accessibility targets, measuring KPIs, and ensuring that accessibility is integrated into the development process from start to finish, product managers can create products that are truly inclusive for all users. Standards like WCAG and ARIA can provide guidance, but it’s up to the product manager to ensure the product is accessible and usable by everyone who wants to experience it.