As 2016 draws to a close, we asked members of the Simply Accessible team to reflect on the most impactful changes they saw clients make this year.

For better or for worse, 2016 has been a landmark year for the world. No other year has seen humanity dance so tenuously between division and connection. It has been a year of being confronted again and again by the news and being invited to respond, and respond differently than we may have in the past. In the public arena, and in our personal lives, 2016 was a year of challenge and choice.

2016: a year of learning and growth

How did this year impact us in our work? Here at Simply Accessible, we also saw major shifts and changes, within not only our own work but the attitudes and approaches of our clients. Equal parts inspiring and overwhelming, there’s no denying that 2016 was a year of steep learning, evolution and growth for all of us, our clients especially.

As we wind down 2016, we asked some of our team members to comment on the most significant changes they saw our clients make this year that had the greatest impact on their site users. Here’s what they had to say:

Gavin OgstonGavin Ogston, Accessibility Specialist:

I think 2016 was a landmark year for many of our clients who have been struggling to gradually increase their knowledge of web accessibility. What we saw this year for many clients was that they discovered how they could go beyond the basics and began to talk about how they can deliver the “best” experience for their users.  As a company that’s always trying to promote the creation of a user experience that is not only inclusive, but goes beyond that to be delightful for everyone, I feel 2016 was one of our best years yet.

Devon PersingDevon Persing, Accessibility Specialist:

This was a year for companies to consider how their mission statements for inclusivity and diversity really affect their customers. With the Department Of Transportation’s updated requirements for air carrier accessibility, 2016 marked the first time an entire private industry in the United States was regulated to meet a standard for digital accessibility. The ripple effect is already being felt in other parts of the travel industry, and it’s just the beginning!

Caryn PagelCaryn Pagel, Accessibility Specialist:

I saw one of our clients completely change their mindset this year. When I started working with this client, they were in “get it done” mode. As we progressed through the project, and they began learning more about why web accessibility is so important, it was exciting to see them shift into “let’s do this the right way” mode. They started thinking of how to incorporate accessibility into their design and development cycles, and how simple tasks could affect ALL their website visitors. It’s been incredibly inspiring to see a team that once knew little about accessibility blossom into the advocates they’ve become.

Jeff SmithJeff Smith, Director of Operations:

One of the most impactful changes I noticed our clients making in 2016 was taking usability testing results that we provide to heart and looking at those results being as important, if not more important than assessment or “audit” results. 2016 noted a very significant shift in the mindset of our clients to one of caring about actual users’ experience and the roadblocks that people with disabilities face on a daily basis on the web. It’s been incredibly refreshing to have our clients really start to consider their end customers and how the work they’re doing impacts them. My hope for 2017 is that this trend continues and that we see even more clients coming to us for the first time that already have their customer’s needs as the driver of their accessibility efforts.

Kara VanRoekelKara Van Roekel, Accessibility Specialist:

I saw a client move from being slightly skeptical of the accessibility testing we were doing and recommendations that we were making, to actively soliciting feedback and comments on planned updates and design changes. They went from dubious to eagerly wanting to ensure that they developed their products in an accessible manner the first time around. That made me really happy… knowing that we helped to convert someone to being conscious of the needs of disabled users.

We’re going to need a bigger boat

Fundamental to the work we do at Simply Accessible is empathy and the desire to make the digital world better for everyone. 2016 showed us that our clients are starting to get in the boat with us, and users everywhere will benefit from these mindset shifts.

What were some impactful changes you made in your own accessibility practice or experience in 2016? We’d love to hear about these in the comments below!