NWEA matures their accessibility practice with Strategic Consulting from Deque

NWEA is focused on growth and learning for all

NWEA (formerly known as the Northwest Evaluation Association) is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators in more than 146 countries through research, assessment solutions, policy and advocacy services, professional learning and school improvement services that fight for equity, drive classroom impact and push for systemic change in our educational communities. NWEA’s flagship assessment solution “MAP® Growth™” measures achievement and growth in school-aged children from K-12 in math, language, reading and science. 

Accessibility leads Kat McLaurin, Product Owner and Leader of NWEA’s Accessibility Center of Excellence, and Elizabeth Barker, Research Accessibility Manager, recognized the need for a uniform, company-wide approach to tackle accessibility. “We really wanted to broaden our accessibility practice beyond the MAP Growth assessment,” says Barker. “We knew that several parts of our organization were trying to get accessibility off the ground, but we needed support to spread it throughout the organization. That’s where Deque came in.”




We’ve been so impressed with Deque. What we received far exceeded our expectations. The support, the information and the knowledge we gained stretched our dollar in a very positive way, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

Elizabeth Barker Research Accessibility Manager, NWEA

Identifying accessibility barriers and path forward with strategic consulting

NWEA understood that their accessibility practice needed to improve and that they needed additional expertise and resources to help them achieve their goals. “We needed to find trusted experts who could support us and understood that we already had a partial foundation of accessibility in place,” recalls Barker. “That set us on a mission to start the bidding process to find the best partner.” 

Deque’s expertise in organizational accessibility transformation made their Strategic Consulting Team the right fit for NWEA. The strategic consulting process involved in-depth interviews with the NWEA team– including development, designers, and leadership. These conversations uncovered the organization’s accessibility issues and barriers, and identified opportunities for growth. “The engagement involved real conversions that got to the heart of what we needed.” remarks Barker. The collaborative effort between the NWEA team and Deque consultants resulted in the Accessibility Transformation Playbook, a comprehensive report that included key findings, maturity modeling, and instructions for future development.




We help all kids learn, and that word ‘all’ means all kids. That makes accessibility central and inherent to our mission.

Kat McLaurin Product Owner, NWEA




Our goal is that accessibility becomes a natural part of every employee’s definition of done.

Elizabeth Barker Research Accessibility Manager, NWEA

NWEA plans their future with the Digital Accessibility Transformation Playbook

The Digital Accessibility Transformation Playbook provides a summary of the engagement and describes the crucial metrics and recommendations to further NWEA’s accessibility maturity. It outlines steps to formalize and legitimize a digital accessibility practice across the organization over the next 6-12 months. “The Playbook really lays out what we need to do in the near future, and what the best options are on next steps,” says Barker. “Having that clarity on what success looks like was a really big piece for our leadership team. It’s been super helpful to drive the business case for accessibility.” 

The Digital Accessibility Transformation Playbook provided NWEA with a tailored roadmap for the next 6-12 months, solidifying success measurements and clearly defining where and how accessibility will be prioritized. “Deque provided an excellent roadmap. Their experience working with other organizations, seeing what works and what doesn’t work, was extremely helpful,” notes Barker.

NWEA’s accessible future

Through the Deque Strategic Consulting engagement, NWEA uncovered valuable information about their current state and developed a comprehensive strategy to move forward and build on their success. Using the Digital Accessibility Transformation Playbook, NWEA can take the right steps to achieve consistency across the organization.

The NWEA team has embarked on an accessibility transformation that will take them from inconsistent to deeply embedded within the fabric of the company. Accessibility aligns perfectly with their dedication to student learning, growth and achievement, the groundswell of internal accessibility and enthusiasm for future scalability. With their customized playbook in hand, NWEA has both the culture and the tools they need to continue their accessibility journey with great success.



It was a fantastic experience working with Deque.

Kat McLaurin Product Owner, NWEA