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Empowering accessibility: GitHub’s journey building an in-house Champions program

As part of GitHub's dedication to accessibility, we expanded our internal accessibility program and scaled up our assessment process to help remove or lower barriers for users with disabilities. Then, we empowered employees from various disciplines to drive accessibility efforts within their teams.

Empowering accessibility: GitHub's journey building an in-house Champions program
For more on this topic, check out Alexis Lucio, Catherine McNally, and Lindsey Wild‘s axe-con 2024 talk, “Establishing a Scalable A11y Education Ecosystem,” which laid the foundation for this blog post. Free registration required.

Laying the foundation

In today’s digital world, accessibility isn’t merely a checkbox—it’s the cornerstone of creating an inclusive experience for all users. At GitHub, we recognize this fundamental truth. That’s why we’ve embarked on a journey to empower developers, including those with disabilities, to participate fully and thrive on our platform. Our commitment to accessibility isn’t a one-time endeavor; it’s an ongoing effort fueled by the desire to remove barriers and make technology accessible to everyone.

As part of GitHub’s dedication to accessibility, we’ve been expanding our internal accessibility program and have scaled up our assessment process to help remove or lower barriers for users with disabilities. Naturally, as the number of assessments increased, so did the issues requiring attention, which strained our centralized accessibility team. Understanding the importance of decentralizing ownership of accessibility across the organization, we took decisive action by launching GitHub’s Accessibility Champions program. This strategic initiative empowers employees from various disciplines to drive accessibility efforts within their teams, fostering a culture where accessibility is deeply ingrained and valued.

The journey to establish GitHub’s Accessibility Champions program began with a comprehensive examination of our existing challenges and opportunities. We understood that for the program to thrive, we needed to consider various factors, including different time zones and work schedules, the expertise levels of our employees, and their ability to dedicate time to accessibility efforts due to competing priorities. By thoroughly assessing these considerations, we aimed to ensure that the program would be effective and adaptable to our team’s evolving needs.

To lay a solid foundation for the program’s success, we established clear goals and defined responsibilities for our champions upon completing their training. By setting measurable objectives and metrics to track the program’s impact on accessibility efforts both within the company and beyond, we provided our champions with a clear roadmap to follow. This proactive approach ensured we were all aligned in our efforts to make GitHub a more inclusive platform.

Starting small

At the heart of the GitHub Accessibility Champions program’s success is the development of a comprehensive and dynamic curriculum. Understanding that people have different learning preferences, GitHub took a tailored approach by assembling different types of educational resources. These resources were carefully curated to cater to various learning styles and delivered asynchronously through videos, articles, and interactive exercises.

Participants in the program received training on digital accessibility fundamentals, including WCAG guidelines, inclusive design principles, testing techniques, and content/interface accessibility best practices. They learned to identify and address accessibility barriers, advocate for accessibility within their teams, and utilize assistive technologies. Participants gained practical experience creating inclusive digital experiences through hands-on exercises and interactive discussions.

The program began with a modest group of 17 engineering champions serving as pioneers in the initiative. This small-scale pilot allowed GitHub to fine-tune the curriculum, gather valuable feedback, and iterate on the program’s structure and content. As the program evolved and gained momentum, it gradually expanded to include 52 champions from a variety of backgrounds, spanning engineering, design, and content teams. Our plan for this year is to reach over 100 internal champions to help support our accessibility goals.

This phased approach to scaling the GitHub Accessibility Champions program has proved invaluable. By starting small and gradually growing the community of champions, we were able to refine the program iteratively, ensuring it met the evolving needs of participants. Moreover, this approach fostered a strong sense of camaraderie among champions, creating a network of advocates dedicated to advancing accessibility across the organization.

Embracing feedback and iteration

Feedback was instrumental in shaping the trajectory of the GitHub Accessibility Champions program, serving as a guiding force in its evolution. As participants engaged with the program, their voices were invaluable in driving improvements and enhancements to meet their needs.

One recurring theme in the feedback was the desire for more interactive experiences and community engagement. Participants expressed a hunger for opportunities to connect with fellow champions, share insights, and collaborate on addressing accessibility challenges. In response, we introduced monthly Champions Connect meetings, providing a platform for champions to come together, exchange ideas, and foster a sense of camaraderie. These gatherings facilitated knowledge sharing and motivated and inspired champions as they navigated their accessibility journeys.

“Being able to ask questions and get answers quickly on simple matters is important to my team’s success. Or, if the questions are too complex to get immediate answers, having a forum to take the time and unpack them to get the answers.”

Participants also emphasized the importance of hands-on experiences in honing their skills and understanding of accessibility principles. Recognizing this need, we organized bug bashes and collaborative events where teams worked together to identify and address accessibility issues in real-time. These sessions provided practical learning opportunities and fostered a culture of teamwork and collective problem-solving.

In addition to enhancing engagement within the champions community, we responded to the demand for more synchronous training sessions. We hosted live sessions tailored to the specific needs of engineers and product managers, providing a platform for interactive discussions, Q&A sessions, and technical deep dives. These sessions offered a valuable opportunity for participants to engage directly with experts, seek clarification on complex topics, and deepen their understanding of accessibility best practices.

“Getting a codespace to identify issues and identify remediations is an excellent way to move from using and understanding assistive technology to taking on the role of an auditor or engineer who is verifying fixes.”

Finally, we initiated roundtable discussions with customers with disabilities, recognizing the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives into the design and development process. These interactions provided invaluable insights into the experiences and needs of users with disabilities, highlighting the critical role of inclusive design practices. By engaging directly with end-users, every champion at GitHub gained a deeper understanding of accessibility challenges and priorities, informing the development of more user-centric and inclusive digital experiences.

“Communicating the value of why we should design and create accessible documentation is key to success on my team. Everyone wants to do the right thing and is willing to do more complex tasks if they understand how it helps people better use our product.”

Overall, feedback catalyzed continuous improvement and innovation within the GitHub Accessibility Champions program. By actively listening to participant input and responding with targeted initiatives, we demonstrate our commitment to fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion. Through ongoing engagement, collaboration, and user-centered design, GitHub continues to advance accessibility efforts, empowering all users to access and interact with its platform seamlessly.

“I loved that the training was super detailed, to a point where someone with zero information on accessibility can get started with basic concepts all the way to acknowledging problems they didn’t know existed.”

Expanding reach and impact

While we are proud of our progress so far, the GitHub Accessibility Champions program isn’t just about addressing internal challenges and setting an example for the broader tech community. By sharing our experiences and best practices, we hope to inspire other organizations to prioritize accessibility and inclusion in their own initiatives.

As we reflect on the journey of GitHub’s Accessibility Champions program, there are several key takeaways and future directions that can provide valuable insights for other teams and organizations embarking on similar initiatives:

  1. Start where you are. Take stock of your current situation and identify areas where accessibility education can be improved. Understanding your organization’s unique needs and challenges is the first step toward meaningful progress.
  2. Go where you’re wanted. Invest your resources with a clear advocacy for accessibility and a willingness to engage in educational programs. By aligning your efforts with enthusiastic stakeholders, you can maximize the impact of your initiatives.
  3. Pilot with a small group. Begin with a small group to test your programs and gather feedback before scaling up. This phased approach allows for experimentation and refinement, ensuring that your initiatives are effective and sustainable in the long run.
  4. Lean into organic partnerships. Collaborate across teams and titles to create a cohesive ecosystem of accessibility education. By leveraging the expertise and resources available within your organization, you can amplify the impact of your efforts and foster a culture of inclusivity.
  5. Seek out, review, and take action on feedback. Actively solicit feedback from participants and stakeholders and use it to inform program improvements. By listening to the needs and experiences of your audience, you can continuously iterate and enhance the effectiveness of your initiatives.
  6. Collect and re-evaluate metrics. Continuously monitor and evaluate the impact of your educational initiatives to track progress and effectiveness over time. By collecting meaningful metrics and analyzing trends, you can identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the value of your efforts to key stakeholders.


The GitHub Accessibility Champions program demonstrates our dedication to fostering a culture of accessibility and inclusion. By prioritizing feedback, collaboration, and responsiveness, we have created a supportive ecosystem where individuals can learn, grow, and acquire the tools to build more inclusive digital experiences. Our champions are truly a community of passionate accessibility advocates.

Looking ahead, we’re committed to enhancing the GitHub Accessibility Champions program, advancing accessibility efforts across the organization, and sharing our journey with the broader tech community—paving the way for a more inclusive digital future for all.

Please visit to learn more and to share feedback on our accessibility community discussion page.

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