Creating a Culture of Accessibility in Your Business

In Brief:

  • Learn how to integrate accessibility into your regular, everyday processes.
  • Develop accessibility as a skill set and champion it as a vital part of your culture.
  • Encourage all associates to be knowledgeable and proactive about accessibility to best serve customers.

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As a leading servicer of federal, commercial, and private student loans, a customer-focused service provider, and a committed partner in the growing renewable energy industry, Nelnet serves a vast customer base. We recognize that each and every one of our customers possesses unique abilities and needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 26% of adults in the United States have some type of disability1. These individuals use our products and services in many different ways. For example, people with low vision may require screen magnification, people who are hard of hearing or deaf may rely on captioning to “hear” multimedia, and people with mobility impairments may not be able to operate a traditional keyboard or mouse and depend on speech recognition software.

Good Accessibility is a Process

Keeping up-to-date with advances in assistive technology and the guidelines and standards that influence accessibility can seem like a daunting task. To tackle this challenge, Nelnet continues to grow and evolve its digital accessibility program. We strive to ensure our products adhere to Section 508 regulations and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 Level AA, and we have adapted and improved our processes over time.

Accessibility is not an over-and-done-with type of activity. As software changes, it must regularly be evaluated and improved to ensure compliance. An efficient and effective process is a necessity. Like security, accessibility must be a fundamental part of the software development lifecycle.

At Nelnet, we include accessibility throughout the development process, from product vision to refinement to release. Our dedicated team of accessibility subject matter experts, the Nelnet Accessibility team, has even gone so far as to develop our own streamlined accessibility checklist to help engineers and quality assurance professionals incorporate accessibility checks and best practices in their processes. Teams are also encouraged to demonstrate accessibility-related functionality during sprint reviews.

Great Accessibility is a Culture

We realized early on that in order for us to truly give all customers, including those with disabilities, the best we have to offer, we needed to ensure that accessibility was embraced as a natural part of everything we do. In other words, we encourage our associates to develop accessibility as a skill set and to champion accessibility and inclusion as a vital part of our culture.

To establish a culture that welcomes and accepts the responsibility of ensuring accessibility, we follow several key strategies, all of which have contributed positively to the evolution of the Nelnet accessibility program and have allowed it to truly excel.

  • We have accessibility advocates in all business units and at all levels. While it is critical for executives and leaders to be enlightened about the benefits of accessibility and promoting and motivating others about it, raising awareness with all associates is paramount — accessibility is everyone’s responsibility.
  • We offer a variety of accessibility training to all associates, with some courses required annually.
  • We employ people with disabilities in a variety of roles. Not only do individuals with disabilities help us fill our talent pool, but they also help teammates become more sensitive to the value of accessibility.
  • We are committed to superior customer experiences. Our customers deserve the highest quality service from us and that includes ensuring everyone receives that same level of service, regardless of their circumstance.
  • Our corporate values align with and guide our accessibility program. The importance of continuing to grow and improve our culture of empathy and kindness is reinforced by Nelnet’s strong values.

Partner for Success

By embracing accessibility, we truly live to serve everyone — that’s what Nelnet is all about. Read more about Who We Are or Contact an Expert to learn how partnering with us can help transform your business.

Reference

1. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html