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Ideas for making accessibility and equity a core part of the software development lifecycle

In accessibility and the product person I said

we need to make accessibility a core part of our processes

Here, I want to talk about that in more detail. I want to briefly explore what making accessibility a part of core processes looks like, and how that is different from centering accessibility as a priority.

RICE is a scoring model many organizations use to prioritize what to focus on. If you aren’t familiar with it, RICE is an acronym that stands for reach, impact, confidence, and effort. The idea is that you assign a point value to each facet, and use the sum of those points to help determine priority between a few competing ideas.

If accessibility isn’t part of your core processes and baked into the culture of your work it will show up as one of many competing ideas all placed against each other in the RICE model. When pitted against other ideas, and when using tools like RICE, accessibility, and equity concerns writ-large, are gonna loose. They’ll be considered, discussed, added to the backlog, but, almost never prioritized. They won’t be prioritized because, across the software development landscape, accessibility isn’t a profit center, it is a cost driver.

But this is a solvable problem.

Stop using RICE and tools like it that don’t include accessibility and equity as facets of their model.

Add it if it isn’t there.

By adding them as a facet, RICE+Equity, you make accessibility a key part of all your decisions. You can still put the accessibility projects up against other ideas, but no matter what, by baking accessibility (and equity, generally) into the frameworks used to determine priority we can begin to ensure accessibility is a core consideration helping to guide all product decisions, and not left as a project on the backlog.