As the world recognizes inclusion and accessibility as core values that drive businesses to serve an even larger market, a new role has emerged in the C-level ranks.
What is a Chief Accessibility Officer?
A CAO is somebody who is simultaneously intimately familiar with the company’s product or service offerings and how consumers experience those offerings. They determine how to increase the number of prospective consumers who have access to their products. The CAO also ensures that the company’s message is accessible to everybody who may be listening or watching.
Project managers who work to increase a product’s user accessibility report to the CAO and follow an overall strategy to build revenue through the simple enablement of new users.
With e-commerce firmly established as a must-have for most businesses that generate revenue, CAO’s also oversee the process of ensuring that their web offerings are accessible along Section 508 compliance standards, which are a set of guidelines that make sure user experiences follow best practices for individuals with disabilities.
Frances West has served as IBM’s Chief Accessibility Officer since 2014. In IBM’s press release announcing her role she stated that, “IBM has long embraced accessibility to create an environment where all individuals can do their job and reach their full potential. We believe that technology can bridge individual differences, enable a diverse pool of talent in the workplace and improve lives. We are at a crossroads where we can begin to personalize every experience and integrate technology in ways that will be very powerful.”
Corporations who have both a broad market of consumers and a large need for staffing resources now recognize the need to provide a voice to ability diversity and the Chief Accessibility Officer is emerging as that voice. We hope to see more CAO’s across the business community in various types of businesses!