Skills

Design

As the industry says, Accessibility is best achieved when we "Shift Left." I've found most success when I integrate myself into the following touchpoints throughout a product lifecycle.

  • Problem kickoff meeting

    • This is when I can begin to establish what requirements need to be met based on the problem looking to be solved.​

  • Research

    • This is my opportunity to make sure we are considering all of our potential users.

  • Design

    • I typically provide my feedback and guidance around accessibility notations during design critiques, accessibility office hours, or through 1:1's with the designer.

  • Implementation

    • I can keep an "open door" with engineers to reach out with any implementation questions.

  • QA

    • Along with the QA team, I make a point to manually audit new features to verify they pass the bar we've set before they become customer-facing.

Accessibility evaluation

  • I begin by understanding the paths a user must take to complete critical actions.

  • I evaluate the accessibility of the existing experiences through a combination of automated and manual testing.

  • I report back my findings in a user-centric report that includes a prioritized list for remediation. I've found that practitioners are most responsive to making changes when they understand how and why the issues are affecting others. 

  • I work with Project Managers to scope out the phases of updates.

  • I work directly with the designers, developers and QA to ensure the issues are being resolved as intended.

Coaching

Accessibility is everyone's job. No matter what role you hold as a product practitioner, it's fundamental to understand the responsibility and control you have in making or breaking an experience for your users. I use a combination of methods to instill this in my colleagues.​

  • Creating self-guided training

  • Holding regular office hours

  • Attending critiques and retrospectives

  • Hosting an accessibility communication channel

Validation

But does it work? Does it make sense? Is it implemented in a way you would want to use it? 

These are questions I often find myself asking others. Accessibility goes beyond checking a box. It involves truly thinking through an experience to make sure sure it's equally delightful and easy-to-use for all of your users.

A fantastic way to answer these questions is by working alongside User Research, encouraging them to include users with various disabilities in your usability studies.