Prioritizing Your IT for Accessibility

Digital accessibility is about ensuring that all members of our community have access to and can engage with digital products, tools, information, and resources in a way that’s equitable, inclusive, and empowering.

Levels of Prioritization

  1. Strategic: decide what systems to engage with first.
  2. Tactical: decide what parts of a given system are the most important and should be reviewed first. Once reviewed, decide which issues to tackle first.

Strategic Prioritization

The prioritization scale below is intended to help you determine the priority of a given IT by looking at intrinsic factors. Rather than assigning a priority per number, it is meant to guide you in assigning relative priorities for the IT in your unit.

Note: Any system you have received a complaint about has top priority automatically.

Intrinsic factors






Number of users?


Moderate number as a percentage

Medium number as a percentage


Used in course work?


Yes, but not required

Yes, required, but small number of users

Yes, required, large number of users

Accessible alternative exists?


Yes, but it is not entirely equivalent

Yes, but users will need assistance to use it

Yes, and provides same benefits

Can you provide accomodation?


Yes, but slight impact on usability, time and dignity of user

Yes, but sizable impact on usability, time and dignity of user


Extrinsic factors

These are factors to consider when weighing which system has priority when the systems in question have the same priority given intrinsic factors.

  • System lifecycle: Is the system new, growing, mature, or ready to be retired? The longer the expected lifetime, the higher the priority.
  • Cost and effort: Pragmatically, you may want to prioritize systems that are easier and/or less costly to update, all other factors being equal.
  • Reputation: If one system is more important for the reputation of the unit or the university than another with an equal intrinsic factor rating, you may want to assign it a higher priority.

Tactical Prioritization

Consider starting with a pilot on your first review and remediation effort. This will provide you with:

  • metrics that will help with estimates
  • an idea of where you will need assistance, training and documentation.

Intrinsic factors - areas

What should you consider when prioritizing areas?

  • Common components: Reviewing components (such as templates, reusable elements, etc.) common to all parts of the system and addressing any issues found will immediately and tangibly improve the system, as it will remove many barriers with a small number of fixes.
  • Critical paths and traffic patterns: For web applications, a set of use cases that exercise the core components will be useful to determine what parts of the application have priority.
    For a static web presence, if you have access to analytics, you could use these to determine what areas receive the most traffic and take that into account in your review and remediation process.
  • Crucial documents: Documents (Office, PDF, Google) frequently distributed or requested should be reviewed, especially those that are important to students.

Intrinsic factors - issues

impact on users with disabilities
For manual functional testing, the scale below is guided by impact. If you are using one of the recommended automation tools, the tools themselves will assign a priority.

  • Level 5 - Blocker: Prevents access to core processes or many secondary processes; causes harm or significant discomfort.
  • Level 4 - Critical: Prevents access to some secondary processes; makes it difficult to access core processes or many secondary processes.
  • Level 3 - Major: Makes it inconvenient to access core processes or many secondary processes.
  • Level 2 - Minor: Makes it inconvenient to access isolated processes.
  • Level 1 - Lesser: Usability observation.

Extrinsic factors

Ease & Speed of Repair
Pragmatically, your ability to review and repair will also be a factor in prioritization. You may want to consider remediating issue types that you can tackle at the present moment, while you are building capacity to address others, for example.