How Alexa – and AbilityNet – are helping older users feel more connected

Loneliness and isolation among older adults are pressing issues.

Alexa device - round black plastic electronic deviceAccording to the Campaign to End Loneliness, half a million older people in the UK go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone. For those aged 85 and over (and 38% of those aged 75 to 84) living alone is a stark reality. In England alone, an estimated 1.4 million chronically lonely older people seek connection and companionship.

Technology can be a lifeline, bridging the gap and connecting seniors to essential services. During the pandemic, organisations distributed tablets and devices to older populations, helping them stay in touch with loved ones. But what about voice assistants? How can they play a role in combating loneliness?

Alexa is a 'friend' to many

In a study carried out by Thinks Insights & Strategy highlighted in an Amazon article recently, participants found that using the core functions of Amazon’s ever-attentive voice assistant, Alexa, significantly helped to alleviate boredom, a feeling strongly linked to loneliness. 81% of the participants reported that Alexa ‘made them feel less lonely’, and less isolated. 

“We’re heartened to see that Alexa can be truly helpful for the older population, reducing their sense of loneliness, increasing human interactions and making aspects of daily life easier," says Eric King Director of Alexa Europe in the Amazon article.

Angela Rippon lends her voice

Well known (and well loved) public figure, Angela Rippon, has joined with Amazon to help raise awareness of the power of voice assistants to help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“People often talk about how technology can confuse and cut off older people, but it can also offer solutions,” says Angela Rippon.

“AI voice services like Alexa can bring family and friends into your home and because it’s voice activated, there is no complicated technology involved. I often use Alexa for relatively simple tasks like making my shopping list, but it’s amazing how much it helps,” Rippon continues.

She also echoes a key aspect of AbilityNet’s mission; “We need to continue to make technology more accessible for elderly people and to encourage friends, families, charities and volunteers to help us along the way."

AbilityNet’s Role in the Alexa Study

Amazon approached AbilityNet to help undertake the study. We recruited a wide range of participants, ensuring representation across various age groups and disabilities. Our mission: to explore how Alexa could enhance the lives of older adults. 

Our approach:

  1. Tailoring Solutions: We understand that one size doesn’t fit all. We worked closely with older participants to understand their unique needs. The result? A customised approach that maximised the potential benefits of Alexa.
  2. Empowering Seniors: We provided support to set up and use Alexa devices. Our volunteers guided them through the process, making sure they felt comfortable and as confident as possible when interacting with the technology.
  3. Interviews and Insights: Participants were interviewed three times during the study: before starting, after two weeks, and after four weeks. We gathered valuable insights into how Alexa impacted their daily lives, combatting loneliness, and fostering connections.

Alexa: A Companion for Seniors

Volunteer Joanne Garner listening on digital device sitting on armchairAlexa isn’t just a voice in the room; it’s a companion. You can ask Alexa to play music, read audiobooks, provide news updates, and even make video calls. The simplicity of voice commands makes it accessible to all, regardless of tech expertise.

With the help of AbilityNet's 450+ network of volunteers, we are able to take it a step further. AbilityNet’s Tech Volunteers offer free support to seniors, helping them set up not only Alexa but also other smart devices from tablets to Smart TVs, from laptops to laser printers. 

You might also be interested in learning about how technology can help older and elderly people, via our online factsheets, including:

Alexa Accessibility Hub
The Alexa Accessibility Hub is the main place to find out about Alexa and its many features, including a useful blog about How people with disabilities can use Alexa to help them lead more independent lives.
AbilityNet website: search results page for the term ‘Alexa’ highlights many valuable tips.
Podcasts: Also check out the Dot to Dot podcast for brief daily tips about how to use Alexa well, or The Echo Show, a weekly look at all things Alexa with myself and co-host Shaun Preece.

More resources from AbilityNet

5 new accessibility tools to help game developers

Leading game developer, Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that it will make five of its proprietary accessibility tools free to use by other game developers. Four of these tools are part of EA’s Positive Play Patent Pledge that launched in August 2021. With these new additions, EA has open-sourced a total of 15 patented accessibility tools through this initiative.  

“Our patent pledge was created on the principle that everyone, no matter their background, should be able to enjoy video games,” says Kerry Hopkins, SVP of global affairs at EA. “We want to enable developers across the community to break down barriers to participation, create safer, more inclusive, more accessible, and ultimately more fun experiences for players worldwide.” 

The pledge covers five patents around accessibility at present, but EA will be adding more to the pledge as it continues to innovate in this space. 

Web developer accessibility training
AbilityNet's expert-led course, Accessibility for developers - JavaScript and SPA Considerations, offers you an introduction to the key aspects of web accessibility and inclusive design, relevant to web developers using modern JavaScript frameworks.

Five tools to help disabled gamers 

The five new open-source accessibility tools are designed to support disabled players.  Graphic of a game controller with buttons and arrows

The Automated Player Control Takeover detects when a player disengages from a game and converts their character into a bot. Using data it already knows about the player makes the system-controlled character resemble the player’s gameplay style. This feature makes games more accessible for disabled players who not be able to interact with the game temporarily. 

The Adaptive Gaming Tutorial System lets games give players personalised in-game guidance based on their skill or play style. This technology uses data from both the user and other players to determine what commands it recommends to players. This lets developers reduce specific in-game barriers for disabled players. 

Similarly, EA’s Animated and Personalised Coach for Video Games allows developers to give players a personalised in-game coach. These coaches give players tailored insights to improve their skills, which enhances their gaming experience.  

Another patent is for EA’s Route Navigation System was initially implemented in ‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’. The tool makes it easier for players with sight loss or neurodiverse conditions to navigate complex game environments. The system generates several route options based on aggregated player data and displays guiding lines to direct players through the levels. 

Finally, EA has also made its IRIS photosensitivity test available to all developers. IRIS simplifies the process of detecting flashing lights or rapidly changing spatial patterns that could trigger photosensitivity issues during game development.  

Electronic Arts Accessibility Portal Graphic of a person using a laptop with dots and lines beside them

Alongside its Patent Pledge, the company also launched the Electronic Arts Accessibility Portal in which players can find game-specific information on accessibility features, voice concerns and suggest improvements.  

The opening statement on the portal sets out their mission for a more inclusive gaming future; “At EA, our mission is to inspire the world to play. As part of our commitment to this, we want to make sure that gaming is inclusive for everyone and that nothing comes between our players and our shared love for video games.”  

EA’s commitment to making video games more accessible to disabled players is commendable. The company’s patent pledge and open-sourcing of accessibility tools will help developers create safer, more inclusive, more accessible, and ultimately more fun experiences for players worldwide.  

More Accessible gaming resources 

WCAG 2.2: What you need to know

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 has been a long time coming, and as Accessibility experts at AbilityNet, it’s exciting to see it go live!

WCAG 2.2 became a W3C recommendation on 5th October 2023. This is the latest version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, a set of internationally recognised standards for making web content more accessible to disabled people.  

This blog covers key changes in 2.2, considerations moving forward and how to comply with WCAG 2.2 guidelines. 

Key changes in WCAG 2.2 Graphic of a person in a wheelchair using a laptop. Icons of a sound icon off, an eye and an ear.

The new updates in WCAG 2.2 focus on improving accessibility for users with cognitive, learning or mobility disabilities and low vision users. This is a beneficial update, showing a positive step forward for the web accessibility standards.  

Within the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, there are three conformance levels: A (lowest), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest). The WCAG 2.2 update has the following key changes: 

The newly introduced Success Criteria (A/AA) 

2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (Level AA)  

Summary: When an individual uses a keyboard to navigate to an interactive element, such as a button or a link, the interactive element and respective focus indication remain visible. 

This success criterion aims to enhance web accessibility for sighted users who rely on keyboard navigation by ensuring that no interactive component or its focus indicator is obscured by other content on the page.  

While 2.4.11 Focus Not Obscured (Minimum) (Level AA) requires that at least a portion of the focused element is visible, having the entire element and its focus indicator visible is required to meet 2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured (Enhanced) (Level AAA). 

2.5.7 Dragging Movements (Level AA) 

Summary: Individuals are not required to use dragging gestures, either with a mouse or on a touch screen.  

The aim of this success criterion is to support individuals with motor disabilities who may struggle with precise movements and sustained pressure. Dragging movements that require the user to use a mouse movement or a finger drag to move something from one point to another (for example, drag-and-drop) can also be achieved using a single pointer, such as a button.  

2.5.8 Target Size (Minimum) (Level AA) Graphic of a person pointing at an enlarged tablet screen

Summary: Individuals who use a mouse pointer or a touch screen have enough space to operate interactive elements, such as buttons or links.  

This success criterion introduces a minimum target size for an interactive element and, if applicable, a minimum distance around an interactive element. This aims to address the challenge of pressing small interactive controls, to help reduce the risk of accidental activation. This can affect several user groups, but especially those with fine motor skill challenges.  

3.3.8 Accessible Authentication (Minimum) (Level AA) 

Summary: When completing an authentication task, such as logging in, individuals are not required to memorise their details, transcribe one one-time passwords, or completing other types of cognitive tests. 

This success criterion aims to simplify the authentication processes for users, particularly those with cognitive differences, such as memory issues, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and similar conditions. It calls for authentication methods that do not rely on cognitive function tests, such as transcription, memory or puzzle-solving.  

3.2.6 Consistent Help (Level A) 

Summary: When help is available and repeated across several pages, individuals can always find it in the same place. 

This success criterion aims to enhance user accessibility by ensuring that help features, like contact information or self-help options, remain consistently located across a set of pages. By maintaining a uniform placement for these support resources, individuals with cognitive disabilities can easily find the assistance they need to accomplish their tasks on the website. 

5.3.7 Redundant Entry (Level A) 

Summary: When individuals are required to enter the same information in the same process, such as creating an account or answering a questionnaire, they do not have to type the information all over again. 

This success criterion addresses the issue of redundant data entry in forms, which can be challenging for users with cognitive, learning or mobility disabilities. It emphasises the importance of either auto-populating the information for the user, or providing a user-friendly way to reuse previously entered data, such as selecting it from a dropdown.   

The removed success criterion 

4.1.1 Parsing (Level A) 

With the new updates to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2, the success criterion 4.1.1 Parsing (Level A) was removed. This criterion was originally adopted to address problems that assistive technologies had directly parsing HTML. These problems, however, either no longer exist due to improvements in technology, or are addressed by other criteria. Thus, this requirement has been removed.  

WCAG 2.2 compliance Graphic of an enlarged monitor displaying '<html>' and '</>' and an image icon. People pointing at the screen and using a laptop.

The WCAG 2.2 update builds upon the existing WCAG 2.1 and 2.0 guidelines. This means that if you meet the requirements of WCAG 2.2, you will automatically meet the requirements of WCAG 2.1 and 2.0  (except for the Parsing requirement).   

These changes also have legal implications. One implication to note within the UK is within the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (PSBAR). The PSBAR currently requires that public sector bodies publish an accessibility statement detailing the conformance of their digital platforms with WCAG 2.1. This has now been updated so they must be conformant with WCAG 2.2, applicable from October 2024. 

How to comply with WCAG 2.2 

If you are responsible for creating or maintaining web content, there are several things you can do to comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2: 

Learn about the new WCAG 2.2 requirements: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides resources to help you learn about the WCAG 2.2 requirements, including a reference guide and a checklist. 

Learn more about WCAG 2.2 in our online training on 29 February!

The training will include demonstrations of the tools and techniques available to test your content for compliance and provide an opportunity to ask questions about the standards and how they will impact your work or the content you produce.

Secure your spot

Watch our TechShare Pro 2023 Lunch and Learn recording about Humanising WCAG 2.2 - understanding how the update helps users with different abilities: 

The transcript for 'Humanising WCAG 2.2 with Accessibility and Usability Experts' is available to download.

Test your web content: Once you have made changes to your web content to comply with WCAG 2.2, it is important to test your content to make sure that it is accessible. You can use a variety of tools to test your content, including screen readers, keyboard navigation tools, and colour contrast checkers. 

You can learn how to begin your own accessibility testing on diverse tools with our range of online training courses

Get help from an expert: If you need help complying with WCAG 2.2, you can get help from an accessibility expert. Accessibility experts can help you to identify and fix accessibility barriers in your web content. 

Speak to our experts to find out more about our Disabled User Research and User Testing services or our Accessibility Audits and Testing services

If you are responsible for creating or maintaining web content, it is important to start preparing for WCAG 2.2 now. By learning about the WCAG 2.2 requirements and testing your web content, you can help to ensure that your content is accessible to everyone. 

WCAG 2.2 considerations moving forward Graphic of an enlarged computer screen and mobile device with a person holding a magnifying glass up against it.

While these updates bring about beneficial changes, it is important to remember that while WCAG is a solid base for a range of disabilities, it can be built upon to further benefit all users (of all ages and cultures) and build an accessible and usable digital world for all.  

At AbilityNet, we believe in helping our clients go beyond compliance through user testing. We always recommend putting disabled people at the heart of every project by getting a diverse range of user testers to regularly review your digital content and services. 

According to the latest W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0 updates, WCAG 3.0 may also introduce "assertions", which are statements confirming if a process, like a usability testing, was done. These assertions document the process itself and do not directly test its results. 

Get ahead of WCAG 2.2 and find out more about our Disabled User Research and User Testing service


This blog was written by Alice Taylor, our Principal Accessibility Consultant Team Leader and Joana Condeço, our Senior Accessibility and Usability Consultant and reviewed by the accessibility consultant team at AbilityNet. 


How can I use technology to support an elderly person from afar?

Woman in mask showing an elderly woman something on a smartphone, smilingJuggling the demands of daily life can often leave us with limited time to connect with loved ones who live far away, or some disabled people who might have additional support needs.

Fortunately, smart technology offers innovative solutions to bridge the distance, offer hands-free support and stay connected with vulnerable friends or relatives, such as elderly parents or partners who you care for, without being overbearing.

Download our factsheet about offering support from afar

Our new factsheet Using technology to help elderly relatives from afar offers a glimpse into how smart gadgets can help us maintain meaningful and vital connections with those we care about, even when miles apart.

Topics covered in the factsheet are:

  1. What is "Smart" technology?
  2. Smart Technology using Alexa and Google
  3. Interior cameras
  4. Exterior cameras and doorbells
  5. Movement technology
  6. Smoke and safety detectors
  7. Non-smart technology

Download the factsheet

Woman ringing outside doorbellExamples of tech that can help from afar

Devices such as video doorbells or external security cameras can help provide peace of mind to assess who may be visiting the person you care for.

Several affordable video doorbell options are available, including Amazon's "Ring" and "Blink" brands and Google's "Nest" devices.

These options offer robust security features and can be linked to a screen within your relative's home, allowing them to see and communicate with visitors without opening the door, providing an additional layer of protection and convenience.

What if we aren't technically-minded?

Perhaps the idea of setting up smart technologies in your relative's home, or your own home, is overwhelming.

There are other low-tech solutions available.

If your relative prefers not to have smart technology installed in their home, charities like Age Concern offer medical alarm systems that connect directly to a 24/7 call centre. With a simple press of a button, a trained operator can assess the situation and dispatch emergency personnel if necessary.

These alarms also provide reassurance for family members, who can be confident that their loved one has immediate assistance at hand in case of a medical emergency.

You might also be interested in our factsheet: Technology for seniors

AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logo

Free webinar recording: How to avoid the 12 Scams of Christmas

Experts from Greater Manchester Police and AbilityNet advisers Alex Barker and Lucy Walsh shared information about 12 common scams to be aware of, and lots of practical tips to help avoid becoming a victim of digital scams.

If you work in an organisation with clients who could benefit from learning about online scams, please do share this session and encourage them to access the recording. It's also a great session for organisations who provide digital inclusion support to service users. 

Access the webinar recording

This webinar is part of AbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology - sign up for Free BT Digital Skills sessions for people over 65 in your area.

How AbilityNet can Help

Three top tips for inclusive communication

At this year's AbilityNet TechShare Pro conference, which discussed key accessibility trends and developments, we also revealed a selection of bitesized 'Lightning Talks' from accessibility experts, highlighting top tips and advice on accessibility topics.

We're now sharing some of the key insights from those experts from the event, including here, a trio of top tips for inclusive communication.

Learn from AbilityNet Senior Accessibility Consultant Team Leader, Rina Wharton, about key things to remember to communicate with others in a more inclusive way, particularly when considering online meetings and events, and online communication.

Download the transcript of the video [Word doc].

The points Rina makes in the video include:

  1. Ensure clear task definitions in writing, including responsibilities and deadlines, to avoid ambiguity.
  2. Foster inclusive communication by providing opportunities for everyone to contribute, both in person and online.
  3. Establish clear guidelines for communication statuses, such as Do Not Disturb and Out of Office, to prevent misunderstandings.

Need inclusion training?

Are you looking for further training on inclusive communication?

Check out AbilityNet's selection of online courses to suit all budgets.

Coming up on Thursday 7 December 2023 is How to run accessible, inclusive hybrid events using Zoom, Teams and more from which you'll learn how to ensure inclusion is at the heart of all your events, with tips for using Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other digital platforms.

It's a particularly valuable course for event managers, Learning and Development teams, Diversity and inclusion leaders, HR Directors, line managers and anyone organising meetings and events. Book now!

Man working on laptop on deskeLearning opportunities

Do you need a cost-effective way to teach your staff about accessibility and inclusion? AbilityNet's online eLearning modules will help you to become a digitally disability inclusive workplace. 

You can also choose from our range of training courses for individuals.

Further resources

Free training: How to avoid the 12 Scams of Christmas

Could you, or someone in your community benefit from understanding more about the online world, and how to avoid the scams that run rife within it?

Group of older people in a community hall setting, smilingOver the festive period scammers are known to target vulnerable online groups, but by understanding the tricks and tactics used by fraudsters, you'll be able to stay safer online.

Come along and join Hollie Bowker from Greater Manchester Police and the team from AbilityNet charity for a valuable training session that's completely free, on Tuesday 12 December 2023, 1pm GMT.

Sign up for the webinar

All those who register for the session will receive the recording after the session is broadcast, so do sign up to benefit from the information, even if you can't make it on the day.

Share within your community

Two older gentlemen looking at laptops in learning setting with younger woman pointing at screenIn this free webinar, expert AbilityNet advisers Alex Barker and Lucy Walsh will highlight the 12 common scams to be aware of, and look at where information comes from – can we trust it? How do we report a scam? Learn lots of practical tips.

Sign up for yourself or even better, bring along a community group to learn together and share the advice:

If you work in an organisation with clients who could benefit from learning about online scams, please do share this session and encourage them to sign up or show them how the Zoom webinar process works. It's also a great session for organisations who provide digital inclusion support to service users. 

Bring a group to the webinar


AbilityNet in partnership with BT Group logoThis webinar is part of AbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology - sign up for Free BT Digital Skills sessions for people over 65 in your area.

Further resources

Blog: 12 scams to be aware of and how to avoid them

Free disabilities sessions: educate your group about disability and technology via our sessions which we can deliver to your organisation.

Workplace training: choose from a selection of online learning options for you and your team.

Don't disable me: How to remove disability barriers in the workplace 
Find out how you can avoid creating barriers for people with lived experience of disability, from people with lived experience of disability!

Book for disability training

How AbilityNet can Help

5 ways to make Purple Tuesday your catalyst for change

Purple Tuesday and AbilityNet logos in purple yellow and white bubblesIt's Purple Tuesday!

Purple Tuesday takes place on the first Tuesday of November each year and serves as a celebratory day, promoting accessibility and inclusivity.

AbilityNet supports Purple Tuesday, as we strive to ensure and promote digital inclusion in all we do.

Here are 5 ways to make Purple Tuesday your day to celebrate and commit to disability inclusion:

1. Attend a free webinar: 12 Scams of Christmas

As part of AbilityNet's Digital Skills project with BT Group to support people 65+ with getting online and using technology, we are hosting a free webinar on Tuesday 12 December, 1pm GMT.

In the webinar learn how to protect yourself from the most common online scams that can be especially rife around the festive season. Encourage and help others to attend who might not already be familiar with registering for online meetings and events - log on, bring a friend, relative or client!

Register for scams webinar


2. Download Easy Read factsheets

Get support from AbilityNet via our guidance about getting online and using tech to benefit both disabled people and older people. Access our Factsheets, My Computer My Way to help you with a range of tech queries. Our most popular factsheets are available in Easy Read format.

You can also find useful resources if you're an employer looking to develop your inclusive practices, such as how to promote diversity and inclusion. You can also learn about reasonable adjustments with our free resources and case studies. 

Employing disabled people is good for business. Access our What are Reasonable Adjustments? factsheet

Reasonable adjustments at work apply to all workers, including trainees, apprentices, contract workers and business partners. Reasonable adjustments are also referred to as Reasonable accommodations, particularly in the US and Ireland.

3. Speak to your employer about becoming Disability Confident

Disability confident logo showing icons of two people, two ticks, an unlocked padlock and a person thinkingDisability Confident is creating a movement of change, encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people.

AbilityNet is proud to be a Disability Confident Leader: This program provides training and support to leaders in business and government to help them create a more inclusive workplace for people with disabilities. 

If your organisation isn't yet Disability Confident, find out more about the scheme via Gov.UK and encourage your workplace to make positive changes.

4. Establish accessible recruitment and customer service practices

Watch our free webinar 'How Microsoft does accessible, inclusive recruitment' for great ideas about what you should expect from potential employers and how your organisation can boost its inclusive recruitment policies and practices.

You might also benefit from formal, great value training about recruitment. AbilityNet offers an eLearning course for all employees, plus an online training course for your team.

5. Don't forget about customer services

There are 1.3 billion disabled people in the world that represent 17% of the population, and 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a business because of poor accessibility or customer service.

So don't forget about ensuring accessible customer services. AbilityNet can advise about the unintentional barriers that can impact the customer experience and suggest immediate changes to make sure your customer services processes cater to the widest audience.

Disability Inclusion Gap Analysis

Having a clear picture of where you are now with disability inclusion, and a roadmap to move forward, will transform your ability to make meaningful progress. 

Sign up to our upcoming free course about How to build a disability inclusive workplace.

Can you help others get online?

Jordan volunteer standing by a wall outside a house smilingDo you have some spare time available to help people in your community learn basic computer skills?

You don’t need to be a tech guru to help as an AbilityNet Tech Volunteer. Typical help requests for a volunteer include:

  • Helping someone set up an email account
  • Showing someone how to use online video calling via WhatsApp or Zoom
  • Setting up a new device and connecting it to the internet
  • Giving advice on anti-virus protection and internet safety
  • Changing basic device settings to make it easier to us

Become a Tech Volunteer


How AbilityNet can help you

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

AbilityNet accessibility services

Support AbilityNet

If you're able to help us help others please donate to AbilityNet

How to successfully kick off your Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) journey

The AbilityNet Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) is a free, open-source tool that helps organisations assess their digital accessibility maturity and develop a plan for improvement. The self-service version of the DAMM provides a comprehensive guide to help you get started, including information on the different stages of the process, the stakeholders to engage, and how to set achievable actions. 

You may have already explored the download pack, but maybe you haven't quite got started yet. That's not uncommon.  

We talk to a lot of people who are a little unsure about where to start and how to get going in that first step, but we've included in the instructions in the DAMM toolkit lots of information about how this works, so hopefully that's becoming clearer to you. 

This blog will give you some tips on how to successfully get started with AbilityNet's Digital Accessibility Maturity Model. 

Determining who should be involved

The first question you might ask is, "Who should be involved in the DAMM process?" While there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, here are some suggestions: Outline of a group of people

  • The right people initially: The right people are those who actively participate and engage in the process from the start. These are the individuals who will be integral to your journey towards accessibility. 
  • Consider senior leadership: Reach out to senior leaders responsible for inclusion, digital services, customer service, or marketing. Their insights can be invaluable. 
  • Involve user experience and research teams: Connect with professionals who already possess knowledge of accessibility and can provide context to your survey results and comments. 
  • Think about HR, Legal, and Procurement: Even though they might not consider themselves initially involved, these teams are integral to the process. You might need to gradually draw them in. 

It's also important to include disabled people, who can provide valuable lived experience and feedback. 

The value of a comprehensive survey 

Gathering as much information as possible in your survey is essential. It provides a rich background that can be used during discussions in the initial workshops. It ensures that you're well-prepared to address accessibility concerns. 

The first DAMM workshop 

The first DAMM workshop is where you evaluate your organisation's accessibility across five key areas. The key dimensions that are central to delivering a successful Digital Accessibility Strategy are: 

Vision: Does your organisation have a clear vision, to help everyone in your organisation understand why digital accessibility is important and what you’re doing? Icons of a lightbulb, target with an arrow, a document with a magnifying glass and a graph

Leadership: Accessibility belongs to everyone, but you need someone steering them in the right direction – and the backing of senior leaders can be crucial to success.  

Processes: Building accessibility and inclusion into every stage of the development process saves time and money because you’ll get it right the first time, every time.  

Capability: Ensuring that you have the right skills and people to deliver your vision means you’re working together towards a shared vision – and you’ll go far.  

Procurement: You’re confident that purchasing decisions are compliant and contribute to your vision. 

These areas help set the stage for your accessibility journey. While the success criteria might not provide all the answers for your specific organisation, they will help gauge your maturity and steer discussions in the right direction. 

Who to invite to the workshop

Just like the survey, the more participants, the better. Aim for between 10 and 20 people, drawing them in from your stakeholder group. Some might not initially feel confident discussing accessibility, and that's perfectly fine. The aim is to start the discussion and provide a solid foundation for everyone involved. Over time, even those initially unsure will begin to connect accessibility to their work. 

Transforming your organisation into an inclusive and accessible space may seem daunting, but it's a worthwhile endeavour. This process has been adopted by many organisations, and we encourage you to take the first step, send out that survey, and start fostering a more accessible and inclusive workplace.  

Get help from AbilityNet 

We’re available to help you with your DAMM journey. If you're interested in working with our accessibility experts, you can contact us via our webform


How to use the AbilityNet Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM)

The AbilityNet Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) is a free, open-source tool that helps organisations assess their digital accessibility maturity and develop a plan for improvement. The self-service version of the DAMM provides a comprehensive guide to help you get started, including information on the different stages of the process, the stakeholders to engage, and how to set achievable actions. 

Steps on how to use the AbilityNet's DAMM self-service version

  1. Download the DAMM pack from the AbilityNet website. Everything you will need is included in the pack; read the guide to get started. Graphic of a computer screen with a zip folder icon and a lightbulb, target with an arrow, a document with a magnifying glass and a graph. Text: AbilityNet's Digital Accessibility Maturity Model
  2. Identify the stakeholders you want to engage in the process. This may include people from different departments, such as IT, marketing, and customer service. 
  3. Lead the process with your team. Discuss the DAMM guide and identify areas where your organisation can improve. 
  4. Set achievable actions. Break down the areas for improvement into smaller, more manageable tasks. 
  5. Implement the actions. This may involve making changes to your policies, procedures, tools, and training programs. 
  6. Monitor your progress. Use the DAMM to reassess your maturity level on a regular basis. 

The process is designed to be straightforward, but sometimes having external facilitation can make it easier to engage the various stakeholders. AbilityNet experts can help with this. If you would like us to facilitate each step and provide our expertise in the discussions and recommendations, contact our DAMM team

Tips for using the DAMM self-service version

  • Start by reading the guide carefully. This will give you a good understanding of the process and the different stages involved. 
  • Identify the key stakeholders in your organisation and engage them in the process early on. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the DAMM is implemented successfully. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you need us to facilitate each step and provide expert advice, contact our DAMM team
  • Break down the areas for improvement into smaller, more manageable tasks. This will make the process seem less daunting and more achievable. 
  • Celebrate your successes. As you implement the DAMM and make progress, take the time to celebrate your successes. This will help to keep you motivated and on track. 

By following these tips, you can use the DAMM self-service version to improve the digital accessibility of your organisation's products and services. 

Learn about Totaljobs experience of implementing the Digital Accessibility Maturity Model.

Tips on how to draft your accessibility action plan

The AbilityNet Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) is a free, open-source tool that helps organisations assess their digital accessibility maturity and develop a plan for improvement. The self-service version of the DAMM provides a comprehensive guide to help you get started, including information on the different stages of the process, the stakeholders to engage, and how to set achievable actions. 

By identifying your strengths and areas for improvement in your digital accessibility journey, you can effectively draft an accessibility action plan that propels your organisation towards a future where everyone can seamlessly engage with your digital services and products.   

Once you have used the DAMM to assess your organisation's digital accessibility maturity and identify areas for improvement, you can begin planning a roadmap by drafting your accessibility action plan.

What's an accessibility action plan?

Accessibility action plans are documents that outline the steps you need to take to improve the accessibility of your digital products and services. They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

Group of people looking at crosses and a target underneath themExample of an accessibility action plan

Let's take the concept of 'vision' as an illustrative example. If your website lacks an accessibility statement, you're currently operating at Level 1, indicating an informal approach to accessibility. To progress to Level 2, a recommended action would be to create an accessibility statement for both your website and app.

This is a simple example.  

At times the next step for your particular situation may not be so direct and may involve intermediary steps, which you can write as recommended actions. 

You can reach out to stakeholders as you draft the recommendations to ensure they’re realistic and achievable. You may also need to discuss and secure a budget for some actions, such as providing training or new testing tools. 

The key is to set achievable short to mid-term goals. These bite-sized milestones will not only keep you on track but also foster a sense of accomplishment as you witness tangible progress. 

A simple example of this accessibility action plan may look like this:  

Current level: Level 1 (informal accessibility vision)

Goal: Move to Level 2 (formal accessibility vision)

Recommendation: Create an accessibility statement for your website and app. 

Timeline: 6 months 

Budget: £1,000 

Stakeholders: Web team, marketing team 

Icons of a lightbulb, target with an arrow, a document with a magnifying glass and a graphNext steps:

  • Meet with the web team and marketing team to discuss the accessibility statement.
  • Develop a draft of the accessibility statement.
  • Get feedback from the web team and marketing team.
  • Revise the accessibility statement.
  • Publish the accessibility statement on your website and app.

Tips to crafting your accessibility action plan 

  1. Assess your current accessibility maturity level. Utilise the AbilityNet Digital Accessibility Maturity Model (DAMM) to identify your strengths and areas for improvement. 
  2. Prioritise actions based on impact and feasibility. Focus on actions that will have the greatest impact on improving accessibility for your users, while also considering the resources and expertise available within your organisation. 
  3. Set realistic timelines for each action. Avoid overwhelming yourself with overly ambitious timelines. Instead, break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks with realistic deadlines. 
  4. Assign ownership and accountability for each action. Clearly define who is responsible for each action, ensuring that there is clear ownership and accountability throughout the process. 
  5. Regularly review and update your plan. As your organisation's accessibility journey progresses, regularly revisit your action plan to assess progress, adjust, and incorporate new learnings. 

Remember, accessibility is not a one-off project but an ongoing commitment. By embracing a continuous improvement mindset and actively involving stakeholders, you can effectively navigate your accessibility roadmap, creating a digital environment that welcomes and empowers all users. 

Get help from AbilityNet 

If you would like assistance with any of the areas that the process has identified as requiring action, our DAMM experts are available to help. Contact us to express your interest in facilitated help in progressing with the DAMM.