During a technology adoption programme it’s critical to engage with many different user groups from executives, change agents and champions to PAs. And one key group of users it’s vital not to forget is the Assistive Technology (AT) community. AT enhances the independence of disabled people and those with health conditions to best fulfil their role at work. It also helps to remove many barriers to employment and supports inclusion in the workplace.
When end-user technology is being changed, reaching out to and managing the AT community should be front of mind. Provisioning an AT service that enables technology adoption requires careful thought and detailed preparation and planning. We were recently credited by a client for having knowledgeable AT experts, whose experience and empathy ensured inclusivity was wired into the technology adoption programme from the start. And, their AT users commented that they had never been engaged with in such a way before.
Having received such praise, we’d like to share our tips on how to go about facilitating an adoption programme for the AT community.
Think about the high impact of change
The approach should be about the people aspect of the change – how will the AT users cope with this? Not only do they have to navigate the technology transformation that everyone else is going through, but also the AT that will support their individual needs. Their impact of change will be higher than everyone else’s. This needs to be managed with the AT users, the business and the technical team deploying the new technology.
Provide a dedicated resource
Invest in subject matter experts who will manage the business relationship with key stakeholders and the health & safety and diversity & inclusion representatives, to form a strategy and engagement plan. These experts also act as the glue that holds all touch points of the adoption process together for the AT community.
Make yourself accessible
From the start, employees with AT requirements need to know who they can get in touch with. We find setting up and promoting a dedicated email box for employees, so their questions are answered privately works well. Plus, we make sure our AT Business Relationship Manager (BRM) is well known by publishing their photo and contact details on the company intranet site; and by introducing themselves at appropriate events and meetings.
It’s important to remember that many employees prefer to keep their AT use confidential. During the migration process onto new technology, the information about who uses which AT applications should be kept strictly confidential. The AT BRM works with the business and IT to determine the best way to manage this information. For example, using an asset number rather than a name in a spreadsheet works well as does having a dedicated person to manage this intelligence throughout deployment.
Personalise the user journey
AT users should always be given the opportunity to shape their own adoption journey. Identify networks that your AT BRM can engage with to explain what is going to happen. Provide focus groups for AT users to attend where they can input into the technology change process – and help to evolve and personalise their user journey – so it fits their individual needs. Once you know what the user journey will look like, you can then coordinate communications, plus schedule and facilitate training in a timely manner.
Will the migration onto the new devices, applications and system work for AT users or will they need a different process? Testing is imperative and should be undertaken as soon as practically possible. It’s good practice to have a full test plan for all AT applications in use and to think generally about the accessibility of what’s being delivered. Some users may have vision or hearing loss but don’t use any application, so their requirements should also be taken into consideration. It’s also important to ask the AT Community to be involved in testing so they are engaged and can test their particular ways of working.
Be prepared to deliver training in different formats. Large classroom training may not be suitable for some, especially when additional support is required e.g. a British Sign Language Interpreter. For some people, the best solution will be a 1:2:1 training session at their desk or in a private meeting room.
In advance, ensure the trainers and floorwalkers have specialised skill-sets to support employees using AT. Also, consider which training materials and long-term user guides need to be adapted for AT requirements. For example, one of our clients as a given requires us to put captions on ‘how to…’ videos.
Keeping everyone onboard the technology adoption train so they don’t hop off isn’t an easy task! It requires on-going commitment and engagement and at a deeper level with the AT community. An individual’s needs may be constantly evolving, and others may experience usability issues along the way. Having a specialist who manages the AT community relationship in the long-term is important for successful user adoption. We’ve just closed off a wide-scale programme for a public-sector client and our last consultant still working at the organisation is our AT Business Relationship Manager! It speaks volumes about the role that they play.
If you need help to support your Assistive Technology community or to get your employees to adopt new technology, then contact us.