Learning Accessibility: Our Collective Journey
January 18, 2022
Estimated Time to Read: 5 minutes
Mastering accessibility begins with acknowledging how much there is to grow and learn. In this article, we share how we’re fostering an accessibility-first mindset at Connected. From scope to discovery to delivery and beyond.
At Connected, our mission is to build better products. That means there’s always room for improvement, always room to grow and learn. Nowhere is our pursuit of better more clear than in the field of accessibility. As product thinkers, builders, and learners, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned so far. (You can also browse our Accessibility Archives here.)
The accessibility gap
According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population (or 1 in 7 people) has challenges with basic tasks and interactions. That includes people with disabilities, age-related conditions, low literacy, and low tech literacy. Yet according to a recent Deque report, “accessibility received the lowest level of internal attention during the pandemic compared to other key aspects of… digital services.”
Bridging the accessibility gap is something we’re committed to learning—and doing—more about. Transparently, we admit we’re guilty of not doing this enough at Connected. Motivated by a recent company discussion to look inward as to where each of us can be doing more, we hope that acknowledging our own gaps publicly (right here!) will keep us accountable and help us bridge them. By continuing to foster internal discussions, we aim to ensure that Connectors can learn from each other, share their experiences and knowledge, and promote awareness of how each and every role can have an impact on our accessibility practice.
Better means better for everyone
There are many kinds of disability, from temporary to situational to permanent. To build accessible products, it has been important to us to understand the ways in which they might be used by these different groups. The bottom line for Connected is: better products means better for everyone. We hope this rings true for the Product community.
There’s also an important distinction between accessibility and usability. According to the accessibility platform Fable, we learned that “web accessibility relates to people with disabilities being able to equally perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with web content. [Whereas] usability [relates] to a user experience being effective, efficient, and satisfying.” Our goal and commitment is to deliver both.
Accessibility from end to end
Accessibility touches every part of the product development lifecycle and every role within product development. Here are some ways we’re hoping to incorporate into our practice to foster an accessibility-first mindset:
- Openly discuss the importance of including accessibility in the scope of the project
- Emphasize why building inclusive products is part of building better products
- Understand how and where our role has an impact on accessibility
- Include services like audits and user testing
- Consider how to embed accessible practices into our Discovery methods
- Ensure that research groups are inclusive of those with disabilities
- Determine if the target user(s) is more likely to have a disability
- Ensure user research methods are accessible to participants
- Make accessibility part of our collaborative and teamwork practices
- Ensure accessible and inclusive UX/UI design
- Confirm that code and backlog are accessible
- Test with both automated and manual tools; use accessible end-user testing (like Fable)
- Understand that inclusion requires iteration
The learner mindset
Beyond specific accessibility practices, we aim to cultivate what we call a “learner mindset.” We hope to foster a spirit of openness, curiosity, and dialogue and to collectively acknowledge that there’s always room to improve, to learn, and to grow.
As we continue to learn how to deliver more accessible products, it’s important for us to embrace and foster within our teams:
- Embody an inclusive mindset by developing empathy and understanding the impact of our role from the start
- Always be willing to educate ourselves and seek out ways to improve accessibility
- Be accountable to and collaborative with our clients, our team mates, and ourselves
At Connected, we’re striving to have an open and ongoing dialogue about how we can build more accessible and inclusive connected devices. We look forward to sharing our journey of learning, growing, and improving. We hope you’ll join our commitment to building and advocating for better, more accessible products.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Join the Thoughtworks newsletter list to receive curated content that exemplifies our Product thinking approach.
Warning: Undefined array key "modal" in /home/customer/www/thoughtworks.dayshiftdigital.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/connected-2021/template-parts/newsletter-modal.php on line 2
Wed Sep 22
The Importance of Large-Scale Platform Accessibility
One billion people – 15% of the world’s population – experience some form of disability, meaning accessibility should be a core aspect of all platforms designed to help others build better products. Working with our friends at Fable, we’ve devised four solutions for building platforms to employ to make the internet more accessible for everyone.
Wed Aug 18
Designing for Accessibility Case Study: The Connected Website
We’re just weeks away from the launch of our evolved and updated website. In this article our very own Katie Luke, Marketing Graphic Designer, takes us through her process – in collaboration with Dayshift Digital – for designing and building an accessible, impactful website.