Accessibility Checklist for Product Managers

Product managers play a vital role in communicating accessibility requirements early in the project lifecycle, ensuring each team member knows their responsibility, and keeping the team accountable for building accessible products. Following these steps, you’ll make sure you’re not only following legal requirements, but making your product more usable for everyone.

Accessibility Basics

  1. Familiarize yourself with the high-level accessibility roles for each member of your team:
    • Front end / development: Ensure front-end code is written accessibly and conducts manual and automated testing.
    • Content design: Ensure content is written in plain language and headings, images, and links are accurately labeled.
    • Visual design: Ensure that designs are accessible, pages are laid out in a logical order, and content meets color contrast requirements.
    • UX design: Ensure that overall experience is built and designed in an accessible fashion, conduct usability testing with people who need accessibility features.
    • Ensure your team members know where to find the accessibility guidelines for their role and follow them from the start of a project. The guides are located here: front end, content design, and visual design.
  2. Take an Accessibility 101 class, such as Udacity’s Web Accessibility class, to get a baseline knowledge of accessibility.
  3. Learn how to navigate a webpage using only your keyboard and learn how to use VoiceOver so you can spot check new features when necessary.

Diverse Users

  1. Don’t assume that your users don’t have accessibility needs. Even if your product serves a small subset of users, any one individual may experience situational (working in a loud environment) or temporary disabilities (having an arm in a cast), or develop a more permanent one.
  2. Consider inclusion in your research and usability testing with people across a range of ages, races, locations, devices, interests, abilities, languages, English proficiency, gender identities, sexual orientations, and access to reliable internet.
  3. Consider testing your product with people in their own context, such as people who use alternative reading devices, have color blindness impairments, or motor impairments.
  4. Set a regular cadence for testing accessibility scenarios.

Project Workflow

  1. Encourage the team to account for accessibility when creating and estimating stories.
  2. Add accessibility as an acceptance criteria or definition of done for each story or new feature.
  3. Add accessibility testing into each development sprint or QA check.
  4. Work with your front end developers to choose an automated testing plan.
    • Including automated accessibility testing throughout the development process can help quickly catch many accessibility errors, but can’t guarantee that your site is accessible. Always combine automated testing with ongoing manual testing.
  5. When a new accessibility issue arises that you may have missed, prioritize those issues appropriately against other development concerns:
    • Consider whether the error is critical, less critical, or minor.
      1. Critical issues will cause serious problems and/or stop most users of assistive technology from using the site.
      2. Less critical issues may cause problems or increased frustration for certain users.
      3. Minor issues will cause problems or frustration for a small number of users.
    • Consider prioritizing the issue if it appears on high-touch pages, critical user paths, or site-wide templates.

Final Review

  1. In most cases, you may request a manual accessibility review from the accessibility team at your agency at least two weeks before a public launch. This ensures there’s enough time to conduct the review and make necessary changes. Since you’ve been manually testing throughout the project, this should be quick.
  2. Depending on your project’s requirements, you may also choose to hire an outside firm to conduct testing as part of your QA.

You can also view our other digital accessibility checklists: