The JJs List Blog

What Is a Chief Accessibility Officer?

Posted by on February 22, 2016 - 4 Comments

Jenny Lay-Flurrie

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.

Microsoft just hired Jenny Lay-Flurrie as their Chief Accessibility Officer to replace Rob Sinclair and she has been recruited to “better service people with disabilities”.

westfrancesFrances 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!

BenheadshotBenjamin Lachman is the Business and Community Engagement Coordinator for


Jake says:
Feb 23, 2016

Let’s try this again. Three cheers for chief accessibility officers! You’re making the world a better place bit by bit.

broken links test says:
Mar 02, 2016

We citizens highly recommend that the Walmart Corporation appoint and utilize Chief Accessibility Officers to address the dire need for accessible parking reforms in Walmart properties nationwide. FYI: All signage must comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, and all parking in handicap access aisles must be prohibited! See documentation at

broken links test says:
Mar 02, 2016

Thank you, Sharon! You can also post a review on our Disability Awareness Business Review page at:

This is another way to get the word out there!

Deanna Van Lokeren says:
Mar 28, 2016

All I know, THIS is what I want to with my life! Wow!! It marries my experience advocating for people with disabilities, my own experience with disablity, and my love of technology and computers. How can I jump on this bandwagon?

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