Accessibility Technology

Aiming for Excellence: Accessibility at a Fortune 50 Company

Presenter:  Toby Erickson from Target ( and global)

This is the sixth and last presentation I attended on Wednesday, March 4 at the #CSUN15 conference.  Pretty much everyone in the accessibility space is aware of the Target case from several years ago, but I’m willing to bet that – like me – not everyone knows how they’ve worked accessibility into their workflows.  Let’s find out, shall we?

This is Toby’s third CSUN conference.

We have a backlog of stories to share…

Quick Facts

  • 1,790 US retail stores, 366,000 employees, omni-channel guest experience
  • Fourth most-visited retails web site in the US
  • 26 million unique visitors each month
  • Mobile is 60% of traffic
  • Cartwheel app added 2 million new users over the holiday period, surpassed $1 billion in promotional sales

Aiming for Excellence

  • Used biathlete competition as a metaphor for the work done
  • Compliance:  Target and the NFB
  • WCAG AA was the target standard
  • Controls & Monitoring:  GRC model (governance, risk management, compliance).  At the time, we were a waterfall shop.
  • a11y Authority and Prioritization:  found many issues from release to release and we had a real challenge with our partners.
  • Issue severity & launch criteria:  we use Jira to capture information in detail for our team.

Lap 1: Hits

  • Identifying issues and how to fix
  • Engaging the dev and Release management organization
  • Authority through GRC

Lap 1: Misses

  • Need to engage earlier in the process
  • Reduce defects and resulting churn
  • Improving partnerships focused on solutions

Lap 2: Customers and Compliance

  • Commitment to our customers:  better testing and identifying what our objectives were to make the experience for our customers easier and better.
  • Proactive engagement:  feasibility and planning.  Here’s what the waterfall concept looked like:  Concept Review > Design Review > DEV Review > QA/a11y Review.
  • We also had to work with vendors and third party agreements via contract agreements that were enforceable (i.e. Master Service Agreements).
  • Partner in innovation.  Risk in GRC can be a way to prevent innovation, and we wanted to avoid that.
  • Shared a Fall Style Campaign Concept with a theatrical video starring Kristen Bell that would allow clothing and accessories purchasable through the player that displayed the episodes.  The player contained a vertical carousel containing products.  Question:  who did the audio descriptions?  They were done by CaptionMax.

Lap 2:  Hits

  • Awareness training identified new champions
  • Grassroots success with motivating partners
  • UX partnership leverages usability
  • Team seen as partners in solutions, not limitations on innovation
  • Ready for organizational change!

Lap 2:  Misses

  • Need to distribute accountability even further (need to embed this deeply into processes)
  • Need to prioritize efforts to focus on greatest guest impact
  • Look further ahead and think strategically

Break in the action

  • 18 Strong
  • Diversity of experience & influence
  • Shared the members of the Target Accessibility Team

Lap 3:  Vision and Shared Goals

  • Vision & Mission Statement:  we want to be a leader, committed to quality digital experiences (Toby read the actual mission statement, which was quite a bit longer)
  • Team Positioning and Roles:  reorganizations are fact of life, I’ve seen a few of them at Target and I’ve only been here for three years.  We needed to shed our testing baggage, so we changed our team name to the accessibility team.
  • Corporate Purpose & Beliefs:  this process helped to shape our brand position in a big way; there was a direct connection between accessibility and  (Toby read the actual purpose and beliefs statement, which was quite a bit longer)

Lap 3: Hits

  • Vision and Mission set as north tar
  • Senior leadership support
  • Delivering on business goals

Lap 3: Misses

  • Prioritizing our strategic work
  • Procedures needed to make teams successful

Lap 4: Initiatives

  • Identifying Key Initiatives:  patterns we can inculcated in all individuals, testing, training, communications (like we’re doing here)
  • Procedures that engage the team:  accountability, documentation.  Describe what accessibility means at Target, using criteria integrating WCAG and Target-specific guest experience, weekly meetings to develop procedures; writing and organizing for diverse teams.  Question:  how did you scale the team up?  We evolved the team as we went.  We wanted these procedures completed quickly, but revisited.  Shared the color and color contrast procedure, error messaging process.  Example:  logos must follow this procedure when they are:  created by or for Target, and are Target’s IP, and promote, advertise, involve, or are associated with Target’s products, services, experiences or campaigns.
  • Agility required: we implemented an agile process.

Lap 4:  Hits

  • Engaged and inspired team
  • Engaged and inspired partners
  • Improved overall performance
  • Reduced accessibility issues by 85%

Lap 4: Misses

  • None for this lap!

Lap 5?

  • Knowing long-term goals
  • Know how you’re going to make it by making a plan!
  • Keep at it
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