How to Find a Consultant to help with Accessibility Issues?
The following process may be helpful in searching for a consultant who would best fit your accessibility needs. Consultants offer many different services. Knowing what you need upfront will help to identify and screen potential consultants early and save you a great deal of time in the process.
- Define the scope of the problem.
Before you can find an appropriate solution, you need to define the accessibility problem that must be solved. By clearly and accurately diagnosing the problem, you can focus your organization's resources on making changes that will result in significant positive changes.
- What has motivated you to seek help at this stage?
- Is the problem general in scope or related to an existing situation?
- Are you required by law to change or provide accessible technology?
- Do you wish to develop or change existing organizational policies regarding an accessible work environment?
- Do you wish to improve accessibility for a specific individual or individuals, or is the problem general in nature?
- Is the problem related to hardware, software, websites or other technology issues?
- Do you need help with assistive technology or general accessibility issues? (assistive technology refers to devices or aids designed to allow or improve access to electronic information)
- Define your requirements from the Consultant
- Do you need general guidelines on accessibility issues?
- Do you require legal advice?
- Do you require an evaluation of your current environment?
- Do you require technical advice on accessible information technology or website design?
- Do you need guidance on specific products or solutions?
- Do you want the Consultant to implement any recommendations or solutions provided?
- Questions to ask the Consultant:
The following questions may help you during the process of selecting a consultant, either when you are considering the possibility of using a consultant in the early phases of problem definition, or later when you are interviewing candidates based on their responses to your RFP.
- What is your source of funding - i.e. are you a for-profit or non-profit organization?
- What accessibility standards do you follow? (Section 508 standards are legal requirements for all entities covered by Section 508, namely federal agencies and some state and local agencies. WCAG standards are guidelines to improve accessibility but do not necessarily fulfill legal requirements, although there is some overlap with Section 508 standards.)
- Do you provide legal advice, general information or technical assistance? (This question will assist in finding a consultant most closely aligned with your needs.)
- Do you provide implementation services for any proposed solutions? (Consultants can offer advice, technical service or a combination of both)
- What approach would you have to resolving this specific problem?
- How do you approach the issue of balancing disabled users' needs with those of non-disabled customers and other design constraints? (Solutions that meet accessibility standards may not always be usable by a wide range of users, so it is important that the consultant takes usability issues into consideration as well as accessibility.)