6. Hiring Accessibility Staff

Accessibility Interview Questions

When hiring staff, you can question them about their general accessibility knowledge during the interview process. Though typically not a requirement for most jobs, accessibility knowledge and skills should be an asset when considering candidates. For most roles, except perhaps web developer or procurement roles, role-related accessibility knowledge and skills can be learned with a little training. Web developers and purchasers will require a much broader understanding than most other roles.

Below are examples of the types of questions that might be asked, grouped by the knowledge area or skill type, with suggested answers. This is not an exhaustive list.

Disability Sensitivity

(Also see Customer Service section below)

When a blind person using a white cane, enters your store, how should you approach that person, and/or offer assistance?
If the person appears to be be having difficulty, ask first “Can I help you?” If the person answers yes, ask “How can I help you best?” and follow their lead. Never assume a blind person, or any other person with a disability, needs help. Some people will not want to be helped, preferring independence.

When a blind person enters your store with a service dog, how should you address the dog entering your store or restaurant?
The dog is working, and should be ignored. Do not pet the dog, or address the dog directly unless the person suggests you may. The dog must be allowed in the store or restaurant, though may be denied access to food-preparation areas.

You catch yourself saying “we’ll see each other later” to a blind person, or you catch yourself saying “we have to run” to a person in a wheelchair. How should you respond to these sayings?
You do not need to respond. Phrases like these are a natural part of daily life, and people with disabilities will not be offended by them. They may, however, be offended by apologizing for the phrase.

Organizational Requirements (Basic)

What accessibility regulations affect businesses in Ontario (or some other location)?
In Ontario, candidates should mention AODA. Bonus if IASR is mentioned or the standards that make up this regulation.

In the U.S., mention section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Refer to International Digital Accessibility Regulations in Unit 2, for regulations in other parts of the world.

When are organizations in Ontario (or elsewhere) with 50+ employees required make their websites accessible?
In Ontario, they should mention January 1, 2014, bonus if they mention Level A, added bonus if they mention Level AA by 2021.

Organizational Requirements (Detailed)

Which standard of the IASR (AODA) governs digital accessibility requirements?
The Information and Communication Standard.

What standard are the web accessibility requirements of The Information and Communication Standard, and other regulations around the world, typically governed by?
The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0)

For organizations over 50 employees, what are the reporting requirements under AODA?
Section 4 of the regulation requires each obligated organization to establish and implement a multi-year plan describing how it will achieve its accessibility requirements under the regulation, and post that plan to their website (if they have one). Plans must be reviewed and updated every five years.

Customer Service

When a person who is deaf is communicating with you through a sign interpreter, how should you reply?
Reply directly to the person, not to the interpreter. Reply like you would reply to any person, looking directly at the person with your mouth clearly in view. Enunciate words clearly and, if requested, slow speech slightly to allow those who can lip read to more easily visually interpret.

If approached by a person with a prosthesis on their right arm, how should you shake hands with that person?
Shaking the left hand would be appropriate, or wait for the person to extend a hand. If a person is unable to shake hands, touch them lightly on the shoulder or arm to greet them.

An adult person with a cognitive impairment (e.g., Down syndrome) asks you for help. How should you respond?
Respond to that person as you would any other adult customer. You may want to slow your speech slightly and speak clearly. Do not speak to the person as if they were a child. Do not speak through a family member who might be with the person.

A person in a wheelchair has approached you asking about a particular product that requires an extended description. What might you do to provide a respectful answer?
Talk to the person like any other adult. If there is an opportunity to sit, pull up a chair and address the person eye to eye.

A person with a speech impairment is asking you in a stuttered voice, about the prices for a number of items, but is having difficulty getting the words out. How should you respond?
Be patient, and allow the person to finish speaking their question. Do not attempt to finish their sentences for them. Do not pretend to understand if you don’t. It is okay to say “I’m not sure I understand.” If they try again and you are still unable to understand, ask if the person would like to write the question, if the person is able.

Basic Web Accessibility

How would you make an image in a web page accessible to someone who is blind?
Add alt text to the image HTML to describe the meaningful elements of the image and, if necessary, provide a more detailed description in a caption or in the surrounding text.

When writing an article for the Web, how would you go about structuring the document to make it usable by someone using a screen reader?
Use proper HTML headings to organize sections and subsections, instead of using large bold text. Use proper list HTML to organize items arranged in a list, rather than using asterisks or separating items with a new line.

Document Accessibility

When preparing a Microsoft Word document, what can be done to make the document accessible to people who are blind?
Provide text descriptions for images. Arrange content using proper headings. Use table headers when presenting data in tables.

How would you make a PDF document accessible to a blind person, reading it with a screen reader?
If exported from Microsoft Word, make the Word document accessible first. Open the exported PDF in a current version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, and use its accessibility features to adjust the document. Use the reading order feature in Acrobat Pro to adjust the order in which the parts of each page are read, if necessary.

Role-Based Knowledge

What accessibility knowledge is needed by staff who are producing documents for public distribution?
Be able to use the accessibility test tools in Word or in Acrobat Pro, for example, to test and make adjustments to documents. Must be aware of accessibility features in document authoring tools, such as how to add alt text for images or create table headers.

When hiring counter/sales staff, what knowledge of accessibility/disability is needed?
They must be sensitive to people with disabilities. Speak to people with disabilities like you would speak to anyone else. Ask before attempting to help. Sit, if possible, when having a conversation with a person in a wheelchair. Do not interact with service animals. Speak directly to the person with a disability, not through their support person. Must be familiar with local customer service accessibility laws.

What accessibility knowledge or skills is needed by a person being hired for a web development position?
Web developers must be familiar with WCAG (specifically, principles, levels, success criteria, and techniques). Should be able to name a screen reader or two for accessibility testing (e.g., JAWS, NVDA, Window Eyes, ChromeVox, and others). Must be familiar with accessibility testing tools (and name a few, and what they are used for). Should be familiar with WAI-ARIA, used when developing interactive elements in websites or web applications. Understanding issues associated with mouse and keyboard access. Must be familiar with the types of barriers people with different types of disabilities encounter.

When hiring a manager, what accessibility knowledge do they need?
They must be familiar with the local accessibility laws and be able to describe the legislation and its requirements. They should understand the types of accessibility knowledge that should be possessed by the people reporting to them. They should be familiar with accessibility tools and resources their staff can access.

When hiring a marketing and communications person, what do they need to know about accessibility?
They should have a basic understanding of web and document accessibility, such as providing alternatives for visuals, structuring documents, using tools to test for accessibility. Must understand issues associated with using colour in an accessible way (e.g., contrast, alternatives for colour with meaning).

When hiring a human-resource person, what do they need to know about accessibility?
Human-resource people should be aware of role-based accessibility knowledge required for an organization’s various roles.

Accessible Employment Practices

What can be done to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to apply for jobs as their able peers?
Employers should inform applicants that accommodations are available on request in relation to materials and processes used.

If accommodations are requested, the employer must consult with the applicant on suitable accommodations that account for the applicant’s disability.

If hired, the hiring notification sent to the applicant will take into consideration the applicant’s disability and include the organization’s policy for accommodating employees with disabilities.


What potential accommodations can be included with video to ensure it is accessible to people with disabilities?
To accommodate people who are deaf, captions can be included.

To accommodate people who are blind, audio description, or extended audio description can be added to video that describe actions or the context, that might otherwise not be understood by listening to the audio track of a video.

What potential accommodations can be included with audio to ensure it is accessible to people with disabilities?
To accommodate people who are deaf, a transcript can be included with audio.

Universal Design

In what ways does universal design address web accessibility for people with disabilities, while at the same time improving usability for everyone?
This can potentially be a long list. These are some examples:

  • Create link text that is meaningful, avoiding links like “click here.” Able and disabled people can scan links of a page more easily without having to follow links to see where they lead.
  • Prevent errors from occurring using effective prompting, feedback messaging, and data validation. Ensures everyone is prevented from submitting incorrect data.
  • When presenting visual content, also include text describing the meaningful element of the visual. Provide a text description for those who cannot see and describe the visual for those who might not understand the meaningful elements of the visual.
  • Use relative measures to size elements in web content so it easily adapts to magnification, and to a variety of device screen sizes.
  • Include redundant modalities, such as including a visual cue, like a flash, when an audio cue, like a beep, is presented, for those who cannot hear, or those who have audio turned down.


When purchasing software to be used on a website, when is it appropriate to use software that may not be accessibility compliant?
When no accessible alternative exists.

When the cost is excessive and would create undue hardship for the organization.

Otherwise, when comparable products are available to choose from, the more accessible option should be procured.

What questions should be asked in a Request for Proposals (RFPs), when purchasing software to be used on the Web?
This can potentially be a long list. These are some examples:

  • Can the software be used effectively without the need to use a mouse?
  • Can the software be magnified to at least 200% (and 400%) using browser settings, without information being lost off the side of the screen?
  • Does contrast between text and background throughout the user interface meet WCAG 2 requirements?
  • What testing was done to ensure the user interface of your application will be usable by people using assistive technology?
  • What processes do you have in place to address accessibility issues, should they be discovered after we have licensed your software?

In addition to asking for accessibility in RFPs, what other things must be considered when purchasing software?
This can potentially be a long list. These are some examples:

  • Evaluate vendor responses critically. Some may provide answers without experience or knowledge of specific requirements.
  • Complete your own testing of the software to confirm vendor claims. Or, ask for an unbiased third party accessibility review.
  • Ensure that contractual arrangements address ongoing maintenance of accessibility, for instance, during upgrades or software updates, or when previous undetected accessibility issues are discovered.


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Digital Accessibility as a Business Practice Copyright © 2018 by Digital Education Strategies, The Chang School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.