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Setting Up & Scaling Up an Accessibility Program

taught by: Aidan Tierney

Session Summary

This interactive session will explore the activities, or dimensions, that an accessibility program manager needs to consider, such as executive support, hiring, policies, tools, workflows and communications. For experienced program leads this session will be an opportunity to share practices, successes and challenges. For others, the session will introduce a blueprint to build a program.


This presentation is aimed at three groups: current accessibility program managers, those who want to become program leads, and those who are in organizations that are creating or scaling up accessibility programs but who wouldn’t necessarily lead those programs.

Accessibility program managers perform many common activities and face common challenges, but there are very few opportunities for them to learn from each other. This session will provide a structured forum for current program leads to share practices, successes and challenges. For others, the session will introduce a blueprint to build a program.

This presentation will explore aspects or dimensions of an accessibility program from these perspectives:

  • Insights from the presenter, Aidan Tierney, from managing a large-scale digital accessibility program at TD Bank for the past 5 years supporting over 1,000 delivery practitioners.
  • Insights from conversations Aidan has had (and will have to prepare for the presentation) with peers in other organizations. This session aims to go beyond the story of one organization (TD) and to address common themes in programs.
  • Insights from session participants

The material will take into account:

  • Each organization is unique and there is no single best way to set up a program or to address a specific dimension.
  • Experiences of other organizations and program leads might help session participants address the needs of their own organizations.
  • How priorities may need to change as the program grows or matures.
  • How an accessibility program relates to wider Inclusion & Diversity initiatives in an organization.

For each of the program dimensions this session will:

  • Introduce the concept
  • Explain why it is important
  • Explain common ways that organizations address this topic
  • Explain challenges
  • Discuss how priorities or approaches may need to change as the program matures
  • Leave room for discussion how others approach the dimension
Accessibility Program dimensions to be discussed will include:
  • Executive sponsorship and support
  • Building a team
  • Funding models
  • Fostering a culture of inclusion and accessibility
  • Champions
  • Accessibility skills in the organization (Foundational and ‘Just in time’)
  • Product ownership of accessibility quality and status reporting.
  • Digital Product Workflow including Design, Development & Testing
  • Policy, standards & requirements
  • Quality expectations for releases. (Accessibility as a requirement vs a feature. Ratings system. Focus on user impact/blockers)
  • Governance and Compliance (Including exceptions, sign-off and tracking)
  • User feedback & user research
  • Metrics & dashboards
  • Procurement
  • Communications (External & Internal)

Related dimensions:

  • Employee Resource Groups (ERG)
  • Assistive Technology programs
  • HR, recruitment, hiring, promotion

Practical Skills

  • Identifying the most important activities when starting an accessibility program.
  • How to scale an accessibility program.
  • Recognizing alternate approaches to solving for common program challenges.

Presentation Materials