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.
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
- 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.
Required tasks for all Engineers, QA, Design
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.
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)
ChromeLens, NoCoffee, and Wave are most popular with designers and customer experience. Axe will help you test your code. Microsoft Accessibility Insights guides you to do a complete audit of your project. It’s excellent for season readiness and marking your code as done. Install the plugins you feel are most relevant.
Run an audit against your product.
This will take just a minute or two.
- Open your web application in Chrome.
- Right click on the page and select Inspect
- Choose the Audits option in the developer toolbar. This is powered by Google’s Lighthouse. Select all of the options, Performance, PWA, Accessibility, SEO…
- Select the Run Audits button.
This will take about a minute to run, but it will check the page for performance, accessibility, best practices, and how it works on a low speed connection. For future use, you can run just the accessibility option.
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.
Android: 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.
iOS/MacOS Accessibility: 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
Just as web developers upload their lighthouse audit, mobile developers should also share the reports generated for their application.
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.
Optional Tasks for Level 1
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 bootcamp 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.
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.
Level 2 Champion – Training and Exploring
Level two completion shows dedication towards accessibility and gives people the resources to make significant improvements. The tasks are focused on customer empathy and developing expertise in the person’s domain. The tasks include online training, customer interviews, volunteering, and creating accessible materials, such as closed captions and audio descriptions. While not difficult, they are time consuming and require dedication and setting goals with managers.
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.
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. Just as go-homes are important to learn about our customers, volunteering with a disability organization introduces champions to their communities. There’s a huge variety of opportunities. Here’s a list of 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.
Standards and Auditing
Intuit’s Architectural Guidelines for accessibility provide detailed information on what makes our product accessible and how it impacts our customers. It’s based on the guidelines written by the BBC to explain how the WCAG 2.0 AA standard is used.
While this is a technical document, it is also good for project managers and designers.
Review your project for accessibility
Level 1 Champions run an initial audit of a screen. For Level 2 Champions, they need to audit their project. For an engineer or designer, this could be product development. For other positions, this could include auditing a hiring process, customer connection, internal tools, or management tool.
Product evaluation includes:
- Color contrast
- Keyboard accessibility
- Form labels
- Focus styles
- Image alt text
- Run an automated test tool
Closed Captions and Audio Descriptions
Level 2 Champions need to understand how content is understood differently by customers. This includes creating captions and audio descriptions.
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.
You can add closed captions to a video you manage on YouTube: Add your own subtitles and closed captions – YouTube or create captions for a video that welcomes caption contributions: Contribute closed captions, subtitles, and metadata – YouTube.
Closed Captions provide a visual reference for the audio dialogue. Audio Descriptions provide an additional audio track to describe the visual elements that give context to the aural 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.
Learn to use a screen reader. Explore your product with your platform’s native screen reader (Narrator for Windows, TalkBack for Android, VoiceOver for iOS, VoiceOver on Mac, ChromeVox for ChromeOS)
Extended Disability Etiquette
Intuit partnered with Disability Matters to create a one hour video on Disability Etiquette. This is required viewing for Level 2 Champions.
Level 3 – Subject Matter Experts
With this level, you become a Subject Matter Expert. You will have responsibilities to your product, not just your immediate team. You will also have opportunities to impact people beyond your company. Your expertise will help guide product design and development for the future of your company. Your role and responsibilities will be defined with management approval.
The process of becoming a Level 3 Champion should be part of career goals and included within conversations with a manager. This is a career defining move, requires significant investment, and prepares you for driving customer-focused innovation.
There are tasks specific to engineers, design, and customer care. The required tasks focus on building expertise and sharing this information with others.
Integrate accessibility requirements and guidelines into your project’s documentation. This helps ensure the information is always discoverable and relevant to your
Share your knowledge with your team.
Create a presentation to give during lunch that highlights what your project is doing well, where improvements can be made, and the opportunities available for your customers with a disability.
- 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.
Team volunteer activity
Work with your team to arrange a customer interview/user testing with someone that has a disability. Intuit’s Week of Service promotes volunteer activity with a dedicated week of promotion with local agencies. You don’t have to wait until this week to promote a volunteer opportunity. 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.
Intuit speakers have participated in many local and global conferences to discuss accessibility and inclusion. These include: South by Southwest, CSUN, A Higher Ground, Grace Hopper, and much more. Submit a proposal to your favorite conference to share your knowledge.
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals provides an Accessibility Certifications to recognize professionals for their accessibility knowledge. These tests are difficult and will require significant studying. However, they are a prestigious award.
Subject Matter Expert – Role Specific
The following tasks are specific to developer, design, and customer care roles.
Level 3 Developer Champions
Automated testing will make your product better by finding potential problems before they make it to production. There’s a wide variety of tools to connect with every level of design and development.
- Coordinate automated testing for your project
- Test your product monthly
Track real time voice of the customer.
Intuit shares the stream of user feedback within specific Slack Channels. You can filter user feedback with the following keywords: Accessibility Keywords for Data Mining – Github
Manage Accessibility Tickets
Work with your manager to manage accessibility issues, this includes creating new issues, prioritizing, and creating reports of progress for the team.
Level 3 User Experience Champions
Complete Microsoft s Inclusive Design 101 (optional: host an inclusive design workshop)
Check your product’s use of color:
- Does it provide adequate color contrast?
- Is color used as the only indicator? For instance using red/yellow/green circles to define timely status
- Does your product work with high contrast or inverse user preferences
Check your product’s documentation readability:
Is it written in simple, clear language? Or does it require a certain level of education to understand? Is the reading level appropriate for the product?
Provide regular feedback on your product’s design from the earliest stages possible.
Evaluate your product designs to see if it supports user preferences.
Not everyone uses their computers and mobile devices with standard settings. We need to accommodate for user’s preferences for larger text, higher contrast, reduced motion, longer time-out periods, and more.
Level 3 – Customer Support Champions
The Department of Defense’s CAP program has a series of videos to explain disability etiquette. This is a great way to understand our customers and make them feel appreciated and welcome. It should take you about 35 minutes to complete.
Share your accessibility knowledge by providing brown bag sessions and documentation for supporting customer requests that include assistive technology and accessibility concerns.
Watch for call summaries that include accessibility and assistive technology requests. Summarize these calls and share them with the product teams and customer support leaders to raise awareness.
Effective customer support depends on documentation that incorporates accessibility solutions and challenges. Create information to help our agents provide exceptional support.
I have created a presentation to take your Champion program to the next level: Scaling Accessibility — Intuit’s Accessibility Champions Program (.pdf)