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Inclusion through an Accessibility Lens

Choose Inclusion Podcast - Inclusion through an Accessibility Lens - Part 1

Transcript: Inclusion through an Accessibility Lens
Episode 14 Part 1
Choose Inclusion Podcast - All Episodes

What happens when a blind man, a woman of color, and a child with immigrants get together to discuss how diversity inclusion and equity effect your business.

UB: Hi everybody. Welcome to the Choose Inclusion podcast. I'm UB and I am the Latino white guy of the group.

Nina: I'm Nina. I am the woman of color in the group.

Mike: And I'm Mike. I'm the blind guy.

Mike: Welcome back everybody to the next choose inclusion podcast. I am here with my co-host Ubaldo and Nina. Thank you, guys, for joining us today. Hello hello and we've got the distinct honor of being joined by Jeff Singleton who is with AppGate and, Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today on the Choose Inclusion podcast.

Jeff: Well thank you for having me.

UB: I'd like to just again softball, just like I'm so impressed with your a11y experience and prowess. I'd love to get a little bit more of your background, Jeff, if you don't mind. Tell us a little about you a little bit.

Jeff: About me. Well I didn't start off in it, that's for sure, but I was one of those people that had computers at an early age I guess you could say and so I was exposed to them at an early part of my life and then kind of dropped off using them and went into engineering. When I finally figured out I wanted to do something other than civil engineering, I kind of started moving back into the computer realm of things and ended up getting a job up north with one of the big software manufacturers up there in the Seattle area. I didn't know it at the time but because I was doing more of a user interface testing a lot of the stuff, I was doing was really related to you know user experience but also around accessibility as well. And as accessibility you know section 508 came out and all that and as that started to get more traction I started to hear more about that and started to realize well that's kind of the area that I'm already doing things in and then at some point I decided to get out of technology because I just I just it was too fast-paced I guess at the time and was just taking too much of my time with a family at home and all that so I wanted to become a welder but as it turned out that didn't happen and I actually got sucked back in because I saw a job ad posted on Craigslist for an accessibility tester and I thought I could do that for a little while and so that's where I met Ken Nakata. as you know us together and from that point forward I've been working with Ken ever since. And we've been going down this accessibility path since then and that was back in 2007 I think it was and it's that's still where we're going. We're still chugging along.

UB: Well until tell us a little bit about AppGate and you know what because you guys are very service-oriented and I know you guys have a product or two as well, but you and Ken Nakata who will be joining us also on the podcast.. you guys really offer services to organizations. Can you tell us a little bit about the services that you offer?

Jeff: Sure so by way of history a lot of folks might if they're familiar with, have been familiar with the accessibility area for any length of time, might remember the name Hisoftware. That's where Ken and I kind of first started working primarily on accessibility and they had the product called Compliance Sheriff at the time… and so that product has since gone through some different changing of hands to where we're at a company now called AppGate. You know AppGate itself is primarily a network security focused but we've kind of been acquired along for the ride and so we focus not so much on the network security side but really on the accessibility side and so a lot of the services we offer besides having an enterprise level scanning solution now, that being Compliance Sheriff, is Ken and I primarily work on the consulting side so what we do is we'll do what we call baseline audits for organizations that might need to get a feel for where do they currently stand as far as the accessibility of their web properties.. and we do more than that as well though we can get into some of the training although we don't do too much training anymore. We have done that in the past but we also get into doing some more of the physical aspects of accessibility. We've done software testing. We've done some hardware testing. We just got wrapped up a project doing some ATM testing for a large Bank and on the way we met Mike through some of the projects we have with NASA, where we actually get to go in and review some of these science centers and museums to see how well they're providing inclusion to their visitors and so there's a lot of different aspects, moving parts to that but I primarily focus on the digital aspect of some of those exhibits instead of the, say the built environment, but so we do quite a wide array of things. It really just kind of depends on what the needs are when somebody comes to us seeking assistance.

Nina: Jeff, I'm curious, like you know when it comes to becoming aware of accessibility in tech.. I mean I think a lot of people are exposed to tech well especially you know people who were born in the last 20 years maybe you know just grew up with good tech in their hands right and now it's just become this ubiquitous thing, yet accessibility is not the first conversation that anyone has when they're talking about tech. I was only exposed to it probably in the last decade and it was probably because there were already advocates out there talking about it and, I heard them I got an opportunity to work with people with disabilities and that's kind of how I was able to actually learn about accessibility but how did you get exposed to it?

Jeff: So I initially got exposed to accessibility through when I was working up north there in Seattle for the software manufacturer. And I was working on their networking side of things and doing the UI testing and my very first exposure is this was with when did I would say Windows XP had just shipped…or I was just about ready to ship and one of the things we were called upon to do is to sit and sit in front of I think was a group of three or four individuals in this room and we had to show them that we could go through the different portions of the UI that we owned responsibility for and actually navigate it with the keyboard or to be able to configure everything just with the keyboard. I thought that was kind of strange at first and I really didn't understand why but we did it. We did it. We passed and you know everything worked okay and then later on that's when I started hearing about Section 508 at the time and so the pieces kind of started to fall together at that point for me and it just kind of progressed from that point.

UB: Can you just real quick, can you all explain what a11y is, just for the audience who may not know what that is. Mike, you referenced it when you first introduced Jeff.

Mike: Sure. Jeff do you want to give your specific you know when we're talking. I mean a11y just as an acronym is the word accessibility. There are eleven characters between the “a” and the “y” and so in the accessibility space, which is you know, which covers you know again the Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and it also covers the WCAG, web content accessible guidelines, which is the private sectors, you know WWW world wide web way of discussing accessibility… and accessibility again to shorten it because there are so many vowels you just say a11y.. Jeff, did I miss anything with that description?

Jeff: I don't think so. I mean me personally I don't normally use the term a11y because I guess because of being around prior to that what I would call a movement even though it's the a11y project… I think of it more of a grassroots movement in the sense that it's really trying to get the message out there to people that – hey this is something that's beneficial to all and here's some things you can do to get on board and to start to learn about this and see how you can incorporate that into your products so that's a great movement it's just not one that I've ever gotten into the habit of calling it a11y for whatever reason...but I hear it all the time, it's a great resource.

Nina: I was only introduced to that concept through Twitter and then I started using it all the time

Jeff: but it's definitely a great resource as they do provide a lot of information and a lot of do a lot to bring interest or no interest but at least exposure to the accessibility world to a lot of people

UB: And I know Jeff, you and Ken Appgate you a lot of times your focus is external right like ADA Title III so it's the consumer facing side of products… is that right? and can you kind of explain a little bit of that

Jeff: Sure so I mean we do get involved with more of the ADA side of things on some of our projects of course they when we refer to the ADA, Americanswith Disabilities Act, that's primarily focused on the built environment, you know wheelchair ramps and you know bathroom stalls and that kind of thing. It does bleed over a lot of times into the digital world when it comes to conversation but ultimately when it comes to the digital world we they're looking at the section guidelines if we're talking to a federal entity because that's kind of where they're required to look and of course if you're familiar with a Section 508 Refresh that happened in the Senate which was January 2018 now that came out that points to the WCAG 2.0. guidelines Level A and AA by reference so Section 508 used to have their own set of guidelines but now they've kind of for a web content anyways they've adopted those guidelines and that WCAG stands for web content accessibility guidelines is what that stands for and that's just a set of standards that the W3C has out there to help people have a target to meet and it's structured the structure of that those whole guidelines could be very confusing at times and that's I believe that's one of the reasons why Ken and I do get some of the work we get is because they are hard to understand and it takes time to not only understand them but to understand them in such a way that you can apply them across different user groups and in order to benefit those groups that just may be somebody who might be completely blind as opposed to somebody that might have a mobility issue. So, they do apply across the board but kind of know how to do that and that's where I think where some of the expertise comes in around the WCAG guidelines.

UB: Well and I find again knowing a lot of people in the space whether it's 508, WCAG, a11y ..in the accessibility space so much of the conversation is that consumer facing side right the that consumer end of the platforms however and you know the conversations I've had with you and Ken, BIT Blind Institute technology, we really say like okay hey if organizations are making in illegally right they they've got regulations that they are meant to do this the same level of efforts to make content accessible from a consumer side are the same techniques it's the same methodologies that you can use for internal applications which then address of course you know the ADA Title I which is the hire to fire Title and it's BIT's mission is all about the unemployment epidemic within the professionals with disabilities community and so we're always beating the drum that's saying hey guys if you're gonna make the investment you know for this for with it within your digital landscape, you know capitalize on that bang for the buck and start leveraging some of those techniques in coding techniques and such to do it on your internal applications too. Talk to me a little bit and I know a lot of the work that you and Ken do is generally more on the on the consumer facing but you know let's say you on you know that conversation about bringing those techniques and such internally.

Jeff: you're spot-on Ken I mean Mike sorry we do end up facing or focusing more on the external facing the public facing aspects of these web apps assets that are out there and the reason is because it's sadly it's all too often not the fact that companies really wanted to do that as opposed to they're kind of forced to do that through litigation or something like that, now on the plus side that we have seen some of the larger clients that we work with and that have come to us recently they're coming to us more in a proactive sense. they're starting to realize that there's a lot of benefit to having an accessible interface for everybody even somebody that might have it might not have any kind of impairment there's benefits to that it's just a better overall user experience so it's nice to see that change of thought process across some of these larger corporations as well. but that being said one of the things we do recommend often is to pay attention to what the internal facing things for employees and make sure those accommodations are being taken care of. Unfortunately because a lot of these organizations are kind of starting out at a deficit I should say I could say I guess because they don't have a whole lot of knowledge around what the guideline means or how to go about implementing them and things like that, it is going to be primarily the public facing parts of their web assets that they're going to be focused on right now. I do would think that after they start to see the benefits that come from doing that that this would start to move into more of the internal intranet side of things as well but I just don't see that as a trend right now unfortunately.

Nina: Thanks for listening to the Choose Inclusion Podcast. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And if you can see closed captioning for this podcast on our YouTube channel. You can find us online on our website ChooseInclusion.com and contact us on Twitter at ChooseInclusion.

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