As with any engineering attribute, accessibility also needs to co-exist within the overall product ecosystem and lifecycle. It has to align with both system requirements and end user expectations to ensure overall user acceptance and mandates/compliances are well taken care of. However, often times, it is entrusted to just a few subject matter experts in the company, who may work in an isolated manner not fully plugged into the overall development effort. This could be due to lack of resources, time, budget or due to an unwarranted overwhelm that the team may have developed about having to re-engineer accessibility into existing solutions. While some of these may be baseless, there is often truth to the other constraints, which can be easily mitigated. At the core, the teams need to first start with a basic awareness and appreciation for accessibility regardless of which function they may be in – whether you are a developer, tester, designer (whether your specialization is functionality, performance, backend, security etc.), accessibility is a topic that is easy to understand, important to establish an appreciation for and critical to implement. And this can be possible only through joint team effort.
At our organization, we are particular that every individual has a basic understanding of accessibility and in-fact leverages simple tools and checklists to include accessibility checks as part of their routine tests (this could be accessibility toolbars, favlets etc. to start with or even a manual checklist). Here is another blog we found useful on this topic – written by a fulfilment services company, talking about accessibility issues across a range of disabilities and what to address on priority. It is a very straightforward article written in a simple/non-technical language, that even a regular reader will understand. It also includes data points on where accessibility stands globally and what we can do to build applications that are better accessible. A number of such resources are also available on our knowledge center page – if you need any specific help in accessibility engineering (especially testing) we are happy to talk more, but for now, please start with basic accessibility awareness and appreciation across your entire organization. The payoffs will certainly be huge down the line.