To celebrate today’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, UsableNet took the opportunity to reach out to major voices with varying perspectives in the accessibility industry and inquire about the meaning of digital accessibility awareness.
However, we didn’t stop there! We asked four of our very own team members here at UsableNet to share their unique opinions and experiences regarding digital accessibility! Check out their thoughtful answers to the question "What does digital accessibility mean to me?"
Jeff Adams, UsableNet Director of Accessibility Operations
This Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Jeff is challenging marketers, product owners, and designers to improve its digital accessibility solutions. He urges website owners to keep an open mind when it comes to limiting flashy aesthetics and inaccessible color contrast. Jeff calls out reluctant companies to ask, "Is using a certain design worth the possibility that a double-digit percentage of your potential customer base is unable to use it?"
"If your site or app isn't accessible, get your teams working on that as soon as possible. You're the first line of the accessibility projects because web accessibility starts at the project initiation and design phases. So I urge you to keep all of your customers in mind when building out your user experience."
Alt-text: Jeff Adams, UsableNet Director of Accessibility Operations
Chris Werely, UsableNet Head of Sales & Marketing
For Chris, this past year represents a gratifying period of growth, learning, and positive changes for UsableNet and the digital accessibility community as a whole. Firstly, Chris reflects on the overwhelmingly positive process of expanding the diversity of the UsableNet sales team.
Chris notes that, despite frequent conversations about the value of diverse abilities, the UsableNet Sales Dept hadn't ever experienced the same level of employee diversity as our other departments. Chris believes that recruiting SDRs with a variety of abilities, including assistive technology users, has made him a better manager and has improved UsableNet Sales in more ways than ever expected.
Chris also mentions that UsableNet has been "pushing even harder on our vendors to make their products accessible." He believes that our company's tenacious attitude has led to more productive conversations about the value of digital accessibility.
"Go beyond compliance or risk mitigation. We know, lots of companies are coming into digital accessibility because of a lawsuit. But if you can take steps to humanize digital accessibility and understand some of the broader impacts on your business, you can drive true change, do a lot of good, and improve your customer experience for everybody."
Alt-text: Chris Werely, UsableNet Head of Sales & Marketing
Tanner Gers, UsableNet Head of Partnerships
For Tanner, the keyword for digital accessibility awareness is "humbling." In his reflective video, he notes reasons for this, stating that digital accessibility is more than getting around compliance laws or denying any accessibility issues. Instead, Tanner notes that digital accessibility awareness is acknowledging previous failures and making deliberate steps to amend these discriminative mistakes.
Being an assistive technology user and an advocate for manual user testing, Tanner explains how his very existence brings attention to the needs of disabled users, declaring, "I am digital accessibility awareness."
Tanner additionally offers some great starting points for any brand interested in incorporating digital inclusion into its company strategy. For example, he suggests hiring a digital accessibility consultancy, as well as reaching out to local disability centers to search for real user testers from the disability community.
"Digital accessibility awareness is humbling because it takes a strong choice and decision to know we've been doing things wrong and that we’re going to start do them differently.”
Alt-Text: Tanner Gers, UsableNet Head of Partnerships
Jason Taylor, UsableNet Chief Innovation Strategist
With 20 years of digital accessibility experience under his belt, Jason identifies the here and now as “probably the most positive time I’ve seen with regard to awareness across a wide range of companies.”
In his video, Jason reflects on the evolving clients of UsableNet, from government and educational institutions in our early days, to the wide range of industries we support today. He stresses the importance of inclusive accessibility over compliance standards and advocates for increased accessibility awareness in the UX design and development phases of digital experiences.
“What I think is most important is that we are focusing on the user being able to achieve certain aspects with regard to using a digital experience, as opposed to getting too tied down into the idea of standards. At UsableNet, the name sort of projects the idea, and essentially, we believe that digital accessibility should be about accessing and providing everybody a usable experience.”
Alt-text: Jason Taylor, Chief Innovation Strategist
Happy GAAD 2021!
In addition to Jeff, Chris, Tanner, and Jason, the entire UsableNet team would like to wish everyone a happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!
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