2. Understanding the Big Picture
The narrative here revolves around the story of “The Sharp Clothing Company” who recently received a complaint about the accessibility of their online store, which included a threat to take legal action if the company does not address the issue in a reasonable amount of time. This complaint came as a surprise to the company, who thought they were compliant with local accessibility laws, having recently retrofitted several of their retail locations to accommodate wheelchair access. However, they did not consider digital accessibility.
The company currently has twelve stores across Ontario and Quebec located primarily in shopping malls, and a distribution centre where clothing imported from around the world is distributed to physical stores and out to customers purchasing online. The head office is located in central Toronto.
The company has been growing rapidly, opening about two new stores per year since going public in 2012, with 222 people currently employed, across a broad range of roles. The company is making plans to expand into international markets in the coming year.
Other Company Details
- Business: Sales and distribution of economical clothing
- Established: 2002 and publicly traded since 2012
- Union status: Non-unionized
- Annual revenue in 2016: $46.5 million
- Marketing channels: Social media, website, television, newspapers, billboards, and print catalog
Total number of employees: 222
- 8 senior managers
- 6 middle managers (at head office and distribution centre)
- 16 office staff
- 4 cleaning and maintenance staff
- 12 store managers
- 12 assistant store managers
- 100 in-store sales staff
- 8 communications and marketing staff
- 5 web developers
- 2 mobile app developers
- 2 user experience designers
- 5 web content authors
- 4 purchasers/buyers
- 8 24-hour telephone and online help staff
- 6 media support staff (videographer, photographer, and graphic artists, etc.)
- 24 distribution centre staff
The complaint that was filed ended up with the company’s CEO. She has come to you to handle the issue and tasks you to ensure that this type of complaint does not happen again. You already have a little background in accessibility, but it is primarily around customer service and design of physical spaces to accommodate people with disabilities. You gained this experience as the project manager during the company’s efforts to make its stores accessible to people with disabilities. However, you have little experience with “digital accessibility” and have a limited technical background.
Your goal is to educate yourself about digital accessibility and implement a plan to address the complaint to ensure no other similar complaints occur. You have a budget which might cover hiring one or two additional staff members, training staff, updating technology, and launching promotional activities to raise awareness of digital accessibility throughout the company.
You will be working closely with other managers and specific staff in order to bring the company into compliance with digital accessibility laws, both locally and in the jurisdictions where the company is planning to do business.
As you progress through the reading and activities, you will be introduced to the various elements that need to be addressed in order to accomplish the company’s compliance goals. In the final unit, you will assemble what you have learned into a Digital Accessibility Policy for the Sharp Clothing Company, a document that you can take away and ultimately use as a guide to implementing an accessibility plan for your own organization.