Intuit’s Accessibility Champion program enables everyone to become a champion and a roadmap for people to become leaders. This was created to celebrate people making contributions towards accessibility. It highlights people via employee profile badges, congratulatory spotlights, and notifications to managers about their commitment. The program emphasizes customer empathy, disability etiquette, and accessible product design and development.
This post shares the Intuit Accessibility Champion process and includes resources and descriptions for your company to adopt the program. Intuit’s program has evolved continually, tasks have been added, made optional, and resources updated. Use this as a baseline and modify it to represent what is important for your organization. For instance, a restaurant may focus on customer interactions and not web application development.
Intuit’s program is hosted on QuickBase, an enterprise database program. It could easily be set up for Google Forms or your preferred platform. Data metrics has been a key to success, so use a solution that lets you filter champions by role, location, manager, etc.
From the very start, Intuit’s Accessibility Champion program has been an experiment and we’ve always been open to changing the requirements, goals, and opportunities. We launched a significant update in August 2022 to our Level 3 Champions, this greatly improved the process and goals. I’ve marked what has been added, or deleted, from our program.
Accessibility Champion Levels
There are three Intuit Accessibility Champion levels. This allows everyone to join the community and develop a base level of understanding. The advanced levels provide a roadmap for passionate colleagues to become their product and location leaders. Eventually, they can become subject matter experts and make an impact across the company and within the global community. We interviewed other companies about their champion programs and most did not include the base level. Their champions start with accessibility in job descriptions and/or responsibilities.
Level 1 Champions – Getting Set Up
Form fields for initial setup
Collect basic information for each champion. These fields also make it much easier to collect metrics. We’ve found location and manager graphs can create healthy competition. Collect T-Shirt information for swag handouts.
- Business Unit
- T-shirt Size (Use this for potential swag)
Required tasks for all Accessibility Champions
The first stage provides an initial exposure to accessibility. This will introduce you to new ideas and challenge you to consider different user experiences. Completing the first level will give you the tools to make better product experiences for all customers.
Estimated time for completion: 15-60 minutes.
- Intuit has a Slack channel for the greater accessibility community. This is for general discussions and questions. Each champion is required to join this channel. They will be added to a channel specifically for champions.
- Every champion needs to know where to find accessibility information. They are required to bookmark the internal accessibility web site.
- This short video from District of Columbia Office of Disability Rights is shared at all of our accessibility boot camps and workshops. It’s a fantastic introduction to disability etiquette: Disability Sensitivity Training Video
- This video from Google’s Accessibility team is a good introduction to inclusive product design. Everyone is required to watch it. Accessibility Design from Google Accessibility and Udacity. Updated to a new video: What does Inclusive Design mean? Kat Holmes, User Experience Design Director at Google and Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Head of Accessibility at Microsoft explain their approach to inclusive design: Introduction to Inclusive Design (4.12 minutes) on YouTube.
- Create a short commitment statement for how you will use what you’ve learned to create an exceptional experience for our customers with a disability.
Optional Tasks for everyone
Each champion is encouraged to update their disability self-identification in their employment profile if appropriate. This is not tracked, as this information is anonymous and managed in Workday.
Visit an Inclusive Park
Magical Bridge Playground is an inclusive public park in Palo Alto, California. Intuit was the sole corporate sponsor of this ground-breaking fully-inclusive public park. The San Jose Rotary Park is another park in the Bay Area.
Find an inclusive park near you:
- Morgan’s Wonderland is an inclusive theme park in San Antonio.
- 30 Most Impressive Accessible and Inclusive Playgrounds
- 19 Inclusive Playgrounds for All Kinds of Kids
Explore an Accessibility Empathy Station
Intuit has self-guided accessibility empathy stations that use a laptop and supplies to guide people through exercises to explore color blindness, low-vision, and limited dexterity. Champions are encouraged to visit the stations, but the limited availability makes this an optional task.
Attend a boot camp or training event
Intuit’s Accessibility Team hosts a variety of workshops, presentations, and boot camps at all locations. These are key drivers for the champion process and everyone is encouraged to participate.
Accessibility and Inclusive Design Tasks
The following tasks are technical and will set up your computer to better understand accessibility and test your product on a regular basis. This can be skipped for those that are not in a technical role at Intuit. They are required for UX engineers and designers.
Set up your Mac for keyboard access
Mac computers do not provide full keyboard support by default. You will need to make a couple settings updates to have full access. Enable full keyboard access on Mac This is not needed for Windows laptops. Select as true if you use a Windows computer.
Web Accessibility Testing
Install Chrome Plugins to test for accessibility. (open links in new tabs for quick installation). We’ve modified our list of required plugins after getting feedback from participants about which tools they use long after becoming a Champion.
- Microsoft Accessibility Insights Updated: no longer required
- ChromeLens Updated: no longer required
- No Coffee Updated: no longer required
- Wave Updated: no longer required
- Stark Updated: Added to the required plugin list
- Accessibility Annotations for Figma Updated: Added to the required plugin list
- Intuit Design System plugins for Figma and VS Code. (not available outside Intuit) Updated: Added to the required plugin list
Do your first Audit
While Axe will give you a quick summary of issues on your web application, we re going to run our first audit with Lighthouse, the audit tool built into Chrome. Lighthouse can test the page with different resolutions and network connections to make sure your application is fast, accessible, and mobile ready. This will take about a minute to run.
- Open your web application in Chrome.
- Right click on the page and select Inspect
- Choose the Lighthouse option in the developer toolbar. Select all of the options, Performance, PWA, Accessibility, SEO…
- Select the Analyze page load button.
To show completion of the task, champions take a screenshot and upload it to the database. This is also a good opportunity for them to share it with their team.
Mobile Accessibility Evaluation
Not everyone builds web applications. This is an alternative for our mobile developers. Consider how you could expand for your company, perhaps customer support, internal tools, employment process, etc.
Install the Android Accessibility Scanner on your Android Device. Activate the scanner via the accessibility settings. Open your application and run the scan. Take a screenshot of the results to upload to this database. You can also export the report. Please note, the screenshot may be black where you have private information within a web view.
Connect your device to your laptop and open the Accessibility Inspector within xCode. Select your device and open your app. Run an audit against your screen and save the results. Watch this video for more information: Accessibility Inspector – WWDC 2019
Create your first accessibility ticket
Did you find any errors in the audit of your product?
This is the perfect time to create your first accessibility bug. Use your screenshot and copy the error message to create the Jira ticket.
Intuit uses “accessibility” as a Jira label. This allows us to create data metrics and dashboards. This should be added to new tickets.
After completing level 1 tasks, the champion receives an immediate confirmation. They will shortly receive a thank you letter that includes Champion stickers, a badge appears on their employee profile page, and a congratulatory spotlight is sent to the champion and their manager. They are also included in the Accessibility Champion slack channel and their new status is announced and congratulated.
Updated: We haven’t been able to send the letters while people were working remotely during COVID. This is a much appreciated step and we are now sending them to people who have returned to the workplace and have a desk address.
Level 2 – Product & Local Leaders
Becoming a Level 2 Champion shows dedication towards accessibility and gives you the resources to make significant improvements for your customers’ experience. You will be ready to build accessible products and give advice to fellow developers, designers, and managers. This also includes a wider spectrum of empathy as you will experience how your work makes an impact on people’s lives.
Many of our Accessibility Champions have found new leadership and personal development growth opportunities. Here are some articles they have written.
- Lessons Learned from an Intuit Accessibility Champion
- Championing Accessibility at Intuit and Experiencing It
- From Breakdancer to Accessibility Champion: A Design-for-Motion-Sensitivity Story
- 3 ways Intuit helped me make my word accessible
- How an Intuit Developer is inspiring others
- Inclusive Design for Sickle Cell Warriors
Update: We’ve reorganized our level 2 and 3 tasks into major categories: Education, Empathy and Awareness, Make an Impact, and Leadership. Each of the tasks leads to greater appreciation of the customer experience, product development knowledge, and leadership skills.
Level 2 Education
Level 2 Champions must complete a training course to understand accessible design, legal requirements, customer needs, and engineering methods. There are several options, depending on the person’s role.
Intuit hosts two accessibility courses from Deque University. Accessibility 101 is a general course for managers, HR, and customer care. Web developers can take Accessibility 201 or the tutorial created by Teach Access: Accessibility Tutorial – Teach Access. The Design Accessibility playlist on YouTube is an option for Intuit designers.
Update: We’ve updated our courses to embrace open source resources.
- Accessibility Engineering: Accessibility Tutorial by Teach Access (rebuilt in 2021 with the leadership of Rachel Ruderman, an Intuit Level 2 Champion)
- Product Managers: Disability Fundamentals Training for Managers. This is an excellent course from Disability:IN, they also have a SCORM file for integrating into your LMS.
- Designers: The Design Accessibility playlist on YouTube
Intuit’s Architectural Guidelines for accessibility provide detailed information on what makes our product accessible and how it impacts our customers. Our original guideline was based on the guidelines written by the BBC to explain how the WCAG 2.0 AA standard is used.
Updated: We now provide a WCAG 2.1 AA guideline created for our product teams. We’ve also included Intuit’s excellent Content Design guidelines that are available to everyone.
Inclusive Content Design
Intuit’s content design team has created a fantastic resource to reflect our voice and tone within products, publications, social media, and anywhere you represent Intuit. This includes a section on Accessibility and inclusion. Studying this section of the guidelines is appropriate for everyone at Intuit.
Level 2 Empathy and Awareness
A key part of being an accessibility champion is understanding a customer’s experience and the following tasks will increase your empathy and awareness.
Updated: We now include a powerful video by one of our colleagues with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They describe how ADHD creates limitations and super powers. Champions learn about neurodiversity, bringing your whole self to work, and supporting your colleagues, friends, and family members who have ADHD. This video is not public.
Intuit is a customer focused company and it is important to include a diverse group of customers in our research. Direct customer observation and interviews are critical to Intuit’s design and product development process. You will learn a lot by sitting down with someone that has a disability and watching them complete tasks and tell you about their goals and frustrations.
Becoming a level 2 champion includes two tasks that connect the leader to our customer base. They are required to meet with a customer that has a disability and follow them as they complete a task. This could be someone a blind entrepreneur doing payroll.
Volunteering and Community Engagement
Volunteering with a disability organization is an incredible opportunity to gain deep empathy for your customers. You can make a sincere impact by sharing your time and resources. The following list was created to find nearby organizations. Disability Organizations in your city.
Intuit’s Ability Network is a network for employees and their family members with a disability. It’s also open to those interested in accessibility. Level 2 champions need to learn about the network, but are not required to join.
Intuit has a 60-minute video hosted by Disability Matters to dive deeper into disability etiquette. Viewing this is required.
Level 2 Make an Impact
The following tasks will increase your understanding of how people use assistive technology and access our products. You will know what it means to audit your product or service, create closed captions, how audio descriptions create compelling videos, and have a glimpse into how our customers use our products with different assistive technologies
Audit your product or service
Review your product for accessibility. Test it for the following aspects:
- Color contrast
- Keyboard accessibility
- Form labels
- Focus styles
- Image alt text
- Run an automated test tool
Audits for Non Engineers
You don’t need to be an engineer or work on a product to do an audit. Audit how a customer contacts customer success, how a tax expert reviews a customer form, how colleagues update their goals, or how a designer accesses Figma resources. Review your daily tasks with a screen reader or from the lens of someone that has dyslexia or color-blindness. How can you improve the experience?
Video Accessibility: Captioning and Audio Descriptions
To become a Level 2 Champion, you need to understand how captioning and audio descriptions work, how they are created, and why they are important. You’ll be creating basic captioning and audio descriptions to understand the process.
Closed captions help all viewers, not just those who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also make it easier for people that speak multiple languages, are visual learners, or watching in an environment that makes it difficult to use audio.
Updated: YouTube removed community captions and we found it overly difficult to caption existing videos. We’ve changed to a new process that is more relevant for the virtual workplace.
Closed captions are based on a simple text document that includes the text to be displayed and the time it should appear and disappear. Manually creating this document is tedious, so we will be using an auto-generated file and then editing it for accuracy.
- Start a Zoom session with yourself and enable live transcription. Record a short video, perhaps an introduction or a brief description of something you’ve learned about accessibility.
- Download the archived recording documents from Zoom.
- Open the .cc.vtt file with notepad, text edit, or other simple editor. Check the file for words that need to be updated.
- Upload the files to your Google Drive folder.
- Right click on the video file and choose manage caption files, this will let you choose the transcript file. You now have a captioned video.
While Closed Captions provide a visual reference for the audio dialogue, audio descriptions provide an additional audio track to describe the visual elements. This gives context to the non-visual experience. Learn more about audio descriptions: Intro to Audio Description
This video from Apple is a great example: Accessibility – Sady (with audio descriptions.
You Describe is a tool for anyone to create audio descriptions for their favorite YouTube video. Take some time to find a video and add audio descriptions.
Screen readers are software that convert the content on the screen to either spoken text or braille. They are primarily used by those who are blind or low-vision. But screen reading software is also important for our customers and colleagues with ADHD, dyslexia, and learning disabilities that make it difficult to read text on the screen.
Every computer and mobile device includes a built-in screen reader. However, the most popular screen readers for Windows computers are JAWS and NVDA. Screen readers require content to be clearly labeled, keyboard accessible, and provide non-visual information. Making a product accessible for screen readers will also make it much easier to use for all of our customers.
Level 2 Champions must learn how to use a screen reader.
Completing the Level 2 Badge
You have completed the tasks to become a Level 2 Accessibility Champion. You explored assistive technology, how to build accessible products and services, how to support people with disabilities, and are prepared to lead your product and location. There are just a few more steps to get your badge.
• Discuss your progress with your manager during your regularly one on one meetings. Explain your goals and what you’ve learned in the process.
• You will have new opportunities to speak publicly and publish articles. It’s always a good idea to have a prepared biography document with your basic information.
• Create an introduction document to send your Champion announcement. This should include what you’ve done to develop accessible experiences, volunteer work, your goals, and why you are excited to be an Intuit Accessibility Champion.
Level 3 – Global Accessibility Leaders
Updated: Intuit significantly changed the Level 3 Champion process in 2022 after doing follow me homes with champions, managers, and product teams to understand how we could build a stronger network, encourage leadership growth, and give people the opportunity to collaborate across product teams. Initially, we expected Level 3 Champions to work full time in accessibility, but not all champions wanted this. It was also difficult to get the headcount in smaller products and locations. The new requirements are quantifiable and are not specific to different roles.
Intuit’s Accessibility Champion program has multiple levels. Everyone is encouraged to become a Level 1 Champion, as this provides a foundation of education and being set up for success. Our level 2 champions are product and regional leaders. They are leading their teams to build inclusive products and services. Our Level 3 Champions influence the company, communities, and industry. They’ve demonstrated great leadership qualities, mentored others, shared their expertise, and understand the customer experience.
Level 3 Champions drive our Accessibility Innovation Panel to establish standards, develop innovative solutions, and collaborate on important projects. You’ll also have the opportunity to work with your managers and the panel to develop important projects for your product team. As a Level 3 Champion, you are a mentor, teacher, and leader.
You will become a Subject Matter Expert. This process needs to be part of your conversations with your manager, included in your quarterly/annual goals, and a consideration for your professional growth. Take some time to talk with your manager about your journey and goals for the future.
Level 3 General Tasks and Information
The steps to becoming a Level 3 Accessibility Champion are based on Leadership, Education, and Customer Experience. They are meant to be applicable to all roles and quantifiable.
Contributions towards accessibility improvements
80 hours work (cumulative) as a Level 2 Champion towards accessibility improvements. This is roughly two sprints. This could be a broad range of tasks, not just bug fixing. Create a document that summarizes 80 hours worth of contributions.
Optional: IAAP Certification
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) provides Accessibility Certifications to recognize professionals for their accessibility knowledge. These tests are difficult and will require significant studying. However, they are a prestigious award and Intuit will sponsor your participation in this process.
- Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC)
- Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS)
- Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA)
This can be completed as a Level 3 Champion.
Create your accessibility portfolio
Create a portfolio describing your accomplishments as an Accessibility Champion. This will be used for promotion cycles and announcements. The format and size of your portfolio is up to you. This project helps you explain your progress and goals for the future. The portfolio should be shared with your manager/team.
Level 3: Education and Training
Accessibility Champions have the opportunity to share their expertise and gain deeper knowledge of accessibility and inclusive design. Our level 3 Champions will have experience teaching accessibility, hosting presentations, and/or writing articles and documentation. There will be assistance available if you are not comfortable speaking or publishing internally and externally
External Conference and/or publishing
Intuit has a reputation for being an innovative company for accessibility and inclusive design. This has been accomplished by our participation in research, conferences, community groups, and publishing on different platforms.
Speaking and publishing also gives you more confidence and builds your reputation as a leader. Speak at one external conference about accessibility, disabilities, or inclusive design. For those not comfortable with public speaking, they should write an article.
Speaking and publishing resources for your team
You have a unique story to tell and experiences to share. At Intuit, we have many opportunities to teach others. Level 3 Champions should speak at an internal workshop, lunch and learn, or other event. For those not comfortable with public speaking, they should write an article.
- Deliver a brown-bag presentation to your team
- Teach team members to use the keyboard and screen reader
- Expand on your earlier go-home activity.
Host an accessibility event
Host an event with the accessibility team or employee network to raise awareness of accessibility. This could be an accessibility week, small business popup, Global Accessibility Awareness Day project, volunteer event, or more.
5 hours of self-guided learning
Watch 5 hours of videos, webinars, online conferences, or other resources to broaden your knowledge of accessibility and inclusive design.
Inclusive Design 101 Toolkit
Complete Microsoft’s Inclusive 101 toolkit (.pdf). This is appropriate for all roles
As accessibility leaders, it’s important to understand disability etiquette and set a good example for customer and social interactions.
- Disability Etiquette – Job Accommodations Network (JAN)
- Real-Time Communication Etiquette for Communicating with Customers with Disabilities.(.doc) – JAN
- I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much (TED)
Level 3: Leadership Opportunities
Accessibility Open Office Hours
Participate in 3 Accessibility Open Office Hour meetings for accessibility. This will give you more experience with design/code reviews and helping people make better products.
- Growth and awareness mentoring (can be mentoring with external people).
- Encourage 4 people (or team to meet 80%) to become level 1 champions
- Encourage 1 new Level 2 champion champion
Level 3: Customer Success
Solve a customer problem
Use Voice of the Customer feedback mechanisms to discover a customer-reported issue. Research the solution, contribute an update, and follow through with the customer after it has been solved. Create a document explaining the problem, research, solution, and response from the customer
Level 3: Community Contributions
Represent your company within the community
Your company may sponsor multiple organizations that need participants to join meetings, mentor participants, and attend conferences. Become a representative for groups like: Teach Access, Randolph Sheppard Vendors,United Spinal Association, Disability:IN, and Assets/Web4All research conferences.
Team volunteer activity
Work with your team to arrange a customer interview/user testing with someone that has a disability. Contact your local organizations to coordinate a group volunteer activity.
Join Employee Network
Become part of your employee network. Consider founding a local chapter if needed.
Open Source Contributions
Developers: Contribute to one open source project (bug fix, community contribution, create issues, new project) [if applicable, i.e. server balancing wouldn’t have an accessibility component]
Designers and Non-Developers: You don’t need to be an engineer to contribute to the open-source community. Contribute to an open-source project with a design review, create an issue, and/or make a pull request.
Developers: Automated testing for product
Your product team has 85% code coverage with accessibility automated testing and linting. (if applicable)
Level 3 Completion
Congratulations, you’ve done an amazing job becoming an accessibility leader. The next step is to share the portfolio you created with your manager and use that for your Level 3 Champion Badge announcements.
Accessibility Champion Network Resources
A lot has changed since this post was originally published in 2020. Many companies now have Accessibility Champion Networks. The Champions of Accessibility Networks is a fantastic LinkedIn group for sharing your progress. I have created a presentation to take your Champion program to the next level: Scaling Accessibility — Intuit’s Accessibility Champions Program (.pdf).