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How to Create a Salesforce Digital Accessibility Plan: 3 Steps

Part 2 of a 3 Part Series

If you read my latest post—How to Design for Digital Accessibility in Salesforce— thank you for following along! Now that you’ve decided to make your Salesforce system more accessible, what’s the next step?

You’ll be happy to know you can use many of the planning strategies you already use to make your projects great: persona creation, S.M.A.R.T. goals and user testing. Here are three steps specifically for creating a digital accessibility plan.

1. Create a persona or two, or three

Because a user’s abilities and adaptations are as diverse as humanity itself, starting with a well-researched, thoughtfully-created persona will help you focus your efforts to improve accessibility. When creating a persona, consider the barriers users face, adaptations or hacks they perform and tools they use to meet their needs.

Accessibility challenges can be grouped into some broad categories:

  • Sensory differences that may affect how users perceive the system (e.g. blindness or colour blindness)
  • Physical differences that may affect how users physically interact with your system (e.g. someone who does not use a mouse)
  • Cognitive differences that may affect how users consume and interpret the information your system displays (e.g. lower cognitive function that makes comprehension more difficult)

Try creating a persona based on these differences, then research how that persona might interact with your system. What limitations do they face in completing common actions? What hacks are they using to get around those limitations? Are there existing tools that are unknown to you but heavily used by your audience?

Here are a few sample personas to inspire you:

  • Suminder is a Salesforce super user with low vision, including protanopia (an inability to see red). Because he is highly sensitive to glare, he frequently uses a Chrome extension that activates high contrast mode, but on days when he’s particularly sensitive, he uses JAWS as his preferred screen reader to help him navigate.
  • Kim, a user with severe arthritis in her hands, uses Salesforce when she’s in the field. When she is interviewing clients on-site , she alternates between the touch screen on her tablet and her Bluetooth keyboard, depending on how severe the pain is in her hands and whether she can position her keyboard in a handy location.
  • Fabiola has been suffering from vertigo for the past month, making it difficult for her to use mobile devices and read the tiny font size of the Salesforce administrator screens. She needs frequent breaks from the screen, but finds that she often forgets what she was doing when she returns.

For more persona ideas, the British Government Digital Service has a series of user profiles that give examples of different kinds of barriers, as well as best practices to address them. Once you’ve defined whom you want to serve, it’s time to figure out what you’ll do to improve their experience.

2. Set goals according to international standards

Now that you have a persona-user in mind, it’s time to set some S.M.A.R.T. goals to evaluate how well accessibility has improved. When setting goals, try to include a quantitative metric so that you have a defined measurement of progress to supplement your subjective evaluation of the improvement. For example, instead of saying you want to make something “easier to use,” you could measure changes in user adoption in your target user group, or changes in the completion rate of desired tasks.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), an international standard that defines best practices in web accessibility, includes test cases to help you evaluate whether your particular technology meets the recommended standards. The WCAG 2.0 is a fantastic place to start because it offers clear and easily defined tests by which you can evaluate your accessibility changes.

Here are some sample tactical goals to inspire you:

  • Ensure a colour contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 for all text on all VisualForce pages in order to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines for colour contrast. (Tip: you can use WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker to find out your contrast ratio.)
  • Standardize the tab order on all page layouts so that keyboarding users have a consistent navigation experience.
  • Write help text for all fields that appear on your three most frequently used page layouts to assist users who need extra guidance due to attention challenges. (You do know about writing great help text, right?)

Don’t forget to evaluate your existing org before you start so you have a reliable baseline against which to measure your changes.

WebAim’s Color Contrast Checker allows you to check your contrast ratio for users with vision impairments.

3. Find users to help you test your updated system

The more time you have to start gathering a user base, the better selection you’ll have of different perspectives and abilities to help you evaluate your progress. This is also a great stage in which to spread awareness about your accessibility initiatives among your design team and user base, and get them excited about the changes that are ahead. If you aren’t able to find precisely the kind of user you’d like to test your system, here’s where you can invest the time in enhancing your personas to better reflect the abilities, preferences and adaptations your personas might have.

When you invite your users to participate in testing, don’t forget to ask them how their needs and preferences can be accommodated. Not only does this show respect for your valuable testers, it can also lead to new insights in additional tools and preferences that you may not have encountered yet in your research.

Go forth and become more accessible!

The great thing about designing for digital accessibility is that it helps you become more in touch with the diversity of your users. By designing for accessibility, you’re opening up your system to a vast array of users who have needs you may never have even known existed. And, rallying your team around designing for accessibility gets them inspired about stretching their design and build capabilities to grow in new and exciting ways.

As you know, designing for digital accessibility is a personal passion of mine, so I’ll be following up with a blog post on designing for cognitive differences. Subscribe to the Tech Samaritan, Traction on Demand’s nonprofit newsletter, in the meantime so you don’t miss any stories as they are published.

Written by Victoria Tang, Business Solutions Consultant at Traction on Demand.

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