Design Domination Podcast Episode #171: Where to Find Clients Needing Accessibility Services

There are so many places where you can find clients who need your accessibility services. Many of them are already knowledgeable about accessibility and understand they need it and are even easy to find.


Designers who are new to doing accessibility work to clients often ask me: where do I find clients needing accessibility services?

Well, let me tell you… They are everywhere! It’s not hard to find them.

I think all clients benefit from accessibility. But it’s often easier to go for the low-hanging fruit, the clients who are already knowledgeable about accessibility and understand they need it, as opposed to trying to educate other clients about it and trying to get them on board.

Accessibility for Government Agencies

The first group of clients who need accessibility are government agencies. In the United States and in other countries, there are federal laws that require accessibility. Section 508, for instance, applies to the federal government.

Ironically, government agencies are notorious for having inaccessible documents and websites.

You don’t have to just look at just federal government agencies. You can look into local government agencies as well—state governments, county governments, etc. They may have their own accessibility laws.

For instance, California has the Unruh Civil Rights Act and AB 434.

Ontario, Canada, has the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

To work with some governments, you may be required to simply register on a certain website where they pool potential contractors. Some government agencies, on the other hand, may require some sort of a background check.

I had to have that done in order to work for a certain agency. I think it was called a “public trust.” It involved providing business documents and tax returns in person to a government agent and then going to get fingerprinted. That was quite an adventure.

A lot of times with government work, you will need to also go through an RFP process too in order to get the work.

So these are all things to consider. You really need to figure out if the hoops you may have to jump through are worth the potential work you might get.

Accessibility for Government-funded Organizations

There are also non-governmental organizations that get funding from the government. If that’s the case, then accessibility may apply to them as well.

I’ve worked with a lot of nonprofit organizations who aren’t funded as a whole by the government but have received federal funding in the form of a grant for a specific project. So that project was required to be accessible, because it was federal money that paid for it.

I also worked with a nonprofit based in Virginia that was overseen by another organization, which was in California. Because of the laws in California, the project had to be accessible.

Also think about higher education as well. I once did an accessibility audit that involved three U.K. college websites.

Accessibility for Nonprofits

There are also nonprofits that specifically serve people with a disability. Whether or not they have a legal requirement for accessibility, they need the people they serve to be able to access their content. Plus, they don’t want to look like hypocrites by not having an accessible website and accessible documents.

Accessibility for Commercial Businesses

Public Accommodation

Another group to think about approaching about accessibility services is private commercial businesses that serve the public (places of “public accommodation”):

  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Banks
  • Accountants
  • Lawyers
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Retail stores
  • Doctors
  • Public transportation
  • Movie theaters

That’s a lot of different types of business, and that’s not even all of them. That’s just a small list of them.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

There are also businesses that are focused on DEI—diversity, equity and inclusion. They usually publicly mention this on their website or in their annual reports.

I’ve had a few large corporate clients that prioritize DEI.

Partnering With Accessibility Services

You can also connect with others in the accessibility space on LinkedIn and various accessibility forums such as the IAAP’s.

The accessibility space is small. Also, many people specialize in certain areas—more granular than just “accessible websites” or “accessible documents” and more like “accessible website remediation,” “accessible document remediation,” “accessible InDesign and PDF documents” or “manual website audits,” for example.

You can partner with others who specialize in services that you don’t provide and vice versa. So if you specialize in accessible website design but don’t do code or any development work, you can partner with someone who is not a designer who focuses on development.

I do a lot with both accessible documents and websites, and I constantly refer work to others based on their particular skills, not just in accessibility but also in their website skills.

I don’t do membership or e-commerce sites, for example. I don’t want any part of that. But I know someone who does, so I would refer those clients to a colleague who specializes in accessibility and those types of sites.

I do custom web development, but I don’t offer maintenance plans. So I would do the custom dev work and refer the client to a colleague for ongoing maintenance.

Providing Accessibility to Clients

This should give you a great place to get started with getting new clients for accessibility work.

By the way, you don’t have to live in the area where your clients would be. You might be in Canada, but you can still help organizations in the U.S. I know of several website auditors in the U.K. who help companies in the U.S. So don’t get discouraged if there are no specific accessibility laws where you are.

Definitely start talking to other types of clients about accessibility too and its benefits.

If you need help getting the conversation started, check out my free guide on Understanding and Selling Accessibility at creative-boost.com/accessiblewebsites.

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