Transcript for Global Digital Accessibility: Why Digital Accessibility is a Must-Have for Businesses

May 20, 2021.

Global digital accessibility:  Why digital accessibility is a must have for businesses.  (Please stand by for the event to begin).

>> KAT ZIGMONT:   Thank you so much for joining us today and being here to celebrate the tenth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  We have such a great program in store for you this hour.  What you’re about to see are recorded segments from our lineup of speakers.

However, towards the end of the hour, myself and several of the

Speakers will be live for a Q&A segment. So please send us your questions throughout the hour and we

Will be sure to answer them at that time.

We have captions available in Zoom as well as at this link, That I will put in the chat.  All segments will have ASL, including the videoed segment.  To get us started, we have three amazing speakers.  They are both WID board members and global experts in digital accessibility discussing accessibility as a business imperative. Our first speaker will be Neil Milliken

From Atos. After Neil, we’ll have Tali Bray from Wells Fargo, followed by Frances West from FrancesWestCo. We hope you enjoy today’s presentation – let’s get started!


>> Neil Milliken, Global Head of Inclusion, corporate social responsibility for Atos.

>> I’ve been working in the field of assistive tech and accessibility for 20 years, Atos, which is the company that I work for, is a large digital transformation company.  We have a number of activities around accessibility.  We have our group accessibility program, which is essentially our corporatewide program looking at embedding accessibility practices through procurement, through talent and hiring, looking at culture, training, partnerships, et cetera and then we have what we call our accessibility practice where the experts sit within our organization to do digital accessibility, whether that be supporting assistive technologies, doing web accessibility audits, or helping people with projects with coding and design, et cetera, plus contributing to training, skills development. We’re active members of the IAAP, signed up for the ILO GBDN, Business Disability Forum, members of the Valuable 500.  We know that accessibility and disability drives innovation.  It’s something that we have embraced as an organization, it’s written into our raison d’etre, we’re a French company, so it’s our sense of purpose.  There’s lots of benefits to being more accessible. One is our customers want it, so we are attracting more customers by being more accessible, and we’re helping them attract more customers, because we’re a business to business organization rather than a business to consumer organization.  We’re attracting nosiness on their behalf, serving businesses on their behalf. Those larger customers also come to us because they know we can do that for them. But there’s also a benefit in terms of retention, we do this for our own people too, so we’re better at retaining our staff, and better at keeping them healthy, engaged, productive, et cetera, and it means that we’re an attractive employer to work for.  It’s really as simple as that.  If you’re not inclusive, then you’re going to be less attractive as a proposition for attracting talented employees.  I think it’s really important that organizations don’t just follow standards and guidelines.  Standards and guidelines are really important, but you also need to test with real users in real life scenarios, and that means real users with real disabilities and real users of assistive technologies.  So working with organizations like WID is a really important part of the process.  Investment in accessible technology will give you a good return. Firstly, your users will like it, you’ll have more successful transactions, less abandoned transactions too, so I’m not talking about just financial transactions like abandoned shopping carts in a service orientated business.  So for example if you get accessibility right you’ll get less service calls to the service desk, so you’re reducing cost, so that’s a benefit. You’re also making stuff people like to use, when you’re thinking about accessibility you’re thinking about design and thinking about how people are going to be using this, and designing it to enable people to be successful in what you want them to do, that will do things like increase your net promoter score in marketing, and these are things that are really important to organizations, they’re going to enable you to attract more customers, they’re going to enable you to do the things that you are required to do by society.  It’s the right thing to do.  But when you do it, it also has all of these fringe benefits.  Lots of real benefits in terms of practical technology and human use cases for why you want to do accessibility.  Lots of organizations have woken up to the fact that they have a responsibility and investors in these organizations are also looking to find companies that are truly delivering on what they claim to be their corporate values.  So really need to walk the talk.

>> Tali Bray, Executive Vice President, Head of Technology Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion for Wells Fargo.

>> TALI BRAY:  Thank you so much for having me.  It’s really great to be here with all of you today.  I have the honor of serving on the WID Board of Directors.  Wells Fargo and WID, have a very strong partnership that spans more than two decades.  Over the years we’ve provided board members for WID, programming partnerships, technical expertise, most recently we collaborated on a machine learning project to improve economic outcomes for people with disabilities.  So there’s a strong support and engagement and recognition of the incredibly important work that WID does within Wells Fargo.  Wells Fargo and Company is a leading financial services company that has approximately 1.9 trillion in assets and proudly serves one in three U.S. households and employs close to approximately 268,000 people.  So we have the opportunity and the responsibility to effectively touch many, many lives across the United States.  We are committed to financially empowering and employing people with disabilities.  We are number one of the top 16 companies for people with disabilities 2020, National Organization on Disability report. We’re really excited to honor Global Accessibility Awareness Day and continue to advocate for equal opportunities and increased access for people with disabilities.  And so I’m really proud to share that inclusion efforts over the past five years at Wells have resulted in more than a 20 percent average increase in disability hiring and over 15,000 employees who self‑identify as people with disabilities.  More than 9,000 of our employees including people with disabilities and allies belong to Disability Connection, that’s an employee resource network at Wells Fargo, and what this really points to is that accessibility is foundational for us to work with this community externally and with the internal community.  So you hear a lot of people talk about a digital first strategy, we also have to have an accessible first strategy, and that is a huge part of what we do.  We have an in‑house Accessibility Consulting organization, it’s called IHAC, and that is a group of industry accessibility experts, and they build in accommodations from the very beginning of every project, every software development effort that we conceive of to ensure that our digital properties are available for everyone.  When accessibility is considered early and throughout design, all customers including people with disabilities can better access products and services, so this drives positive market outcomes beyond the disability community and beyond the employees that we support. Our global approach that we take within technology, we piloted a new program to hire neuro diverse employees with software engineering, automation, data science and cyber skills in the summer of 2020.  We began creating a recruitment and hiring process that is inclusive of people with disabilities, so we can tap into the potential of a very talented and underrepresented population.  Our current employees have expressed incredible pride in Wells Fargo and technology for committing to this kind of program.  So we intend to continue to expand this program based on learnings from the pilots with the goal of having one percent of all technology employees hired through the neurodiversity program by the start of 2023.

>> Frances West, founder, FrancesWestCo.  Chair of strategy and development committee for the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information Communication Technologies.

>> FRANCES WEST:  This topic with technology is definitely a global topic and of course World Institute on Disability or WID has always been a proponent and also has done a lot of work in making sure that whether it’s at the policy level or at the digital accessibility level, that the world understands the power of the technology and also the promise that it can bring along if we’re designing the accessibility into its thinking, so this is a great way of celebrating this day, especially with an organization such as WID.  Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being celebrated globally, and I actually will be giving an interview to, for example, the companies, large companies, including like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent in China, and they are celebrating GAAD like what we are doing here.  Frankly, it has just become a calling for me to really remind all the technologists out there that, you know, technology is there to serve people, not the other way around, and if we all agree that technology is there to serve people, then it has to be all people, not just some people, and with that kind of a logic, then accessibility becomes a must do, not a nice to have.  So the design experience is very important, but a lot of designers are actually not very familiar, actually they know very little to nothing about accessibility.  We have to really help the young designer, the cool designer, the creative designer to understand accessibility, the color contrasts or the use of font sizes as a part of, in addition to the artistic expression, as part of the accessibility expression and planning those together, and that really helps to build in accessibility into the design process.  It’s actually a mindset.  Accessibility, there’s no end be point, right?  It really should be a continuous improvement, and I always say is accessibility is just like privacy and security.  You never say, okay, enough privacy, I’m done, or enough security, I’m done, right?  Then we should dedicate our time and energy to solve the problem or to improve the situation and not expecting it to be very expedient and just, you know, check the box and get it done and move on.

When it comes down to accessibility testing, that is to me the most important part, actually, of the entire accessibility discussion because in the end, it really has to meet that particular user or that particular constituent’s needs and wants.  And I would never be so kind of presumptuous to say that, for example, if I’m a sighted programmer that I can create a user experience on my website or mobile that can delight the blind person and the nuances of the blind person experience.  So to me, that is the ultimate attest of our commitment to the user experience is through user testing.

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  Great perspective.  We are so grateful for the expertise on the WID board and their wealth of experience that really helps focus our work in accessibility and universal design.  Next up, we have WID’s technology specialist, Dustin Snowadzky who will show you all an overview of accessibility guidelines, some examples, and then show you a user testing scenario on a poorly built website and a well-built website, something we experience all the time doing user testing at WID. I hope you enjoy.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Hi, my name is Dustin Snowadzky, and I am WID’s technology specialist.  The topic of my presentation is a brief overview of digital accessibility best practices.  Digital accessibility is important for individuals, businesses, and society.  The web is an increasingly important resource in many aspects of life, including education, employment, government, commerce, healthcare, recreation, and more.  It is essential that all digital products and services are accessible to provide equal access and equal opportunity to everyone.  Access to information and communications technologies is defined as a basic human right in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,  or the UN CRPD.  What is WCAG or W‑C‑A‑G?  The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG provides a framework for making web content more accessible.  They consist of twelve guidelines organized under four principles.  These four principles maintain that websites must be: perceivable, can this information be perceived by everyone?  Operable, can this information be accessed by everyone? Understandable, can this information be understood by everyone? And robust, is this information available to everyone?  These guidelines were created by the Worldwide Web Consortium or the WC3 which is an international organization dedicated to creating web standards.  Moving on to A, AA and AAA levels.  A or single A is viewed as the bare minimum level of requirement which all websites, apps, documents and other digital content should adhere to.  AA is viewed as the acceptable level of accessible for many online services.  AAA is the highest level of conformance and is viewed as the gold standard of level of accessibility.  Alternative text, by default, images are often voiced as simply “graphic” by a screen reader or by the file name they were uploaded as, which is almost always not useful or intuitive.  When an image is described by a screen reader, that indicates someone has added alt text to the image. Alt text should be a succinct verbal description of the image, generally alt text descriptions do not have to be more than a sentence.  Some screen readers will cut off alt text after 125 characters so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or less.  If an image is purely decorative, like a divider, a spacer, a border, et cetera, and doesn’t add any meaning or context to be the page or the content, then it doesn’t need alt text.  The main questions you should ask yourself are, what is the purpose of this image? What message is it supposed to convey?  And what information is lost without seeing this image?  So here is alt text example number one.  A good alt text example is a middle‑aged man in a sports jacket and multicolored tie, stands in front of a railing with his hands resting in his pockets.  And a bad alt text example for this image would simply be middle‑aged man.  The first alt text example contains relevant visual information within one sentence and the second alt text example describes the subject of the image but may not give the user necessary information, depending on the context of the entire page.  There’s no need to say photo or image of because that’s inferred from the image tag in the back code.  Here is alt text example number two.  Good alt text for this image would be a ladybug crawling across a leaf.  Bad alt text for the same image would be just simply bug.jpg.  Next is minimum contrast ratio requirements.  Here are a few examples of text with almost exactly four and a half to one contrast ratio, which is the minimum.  So here we have a gray text on a white background.  Next is purple text on a white background.  Then blue text on a gray background and finally red text on a yellow background.  For many of us, some of these color combinations are not very readable, that is why four and a half to one is the minimum required by WCAG guidelines.  Large text contrast requirements.  Large text is easier to read, so the contrast requirement is reduced to 3 to 1.  WCAG guidelines defines large text that is text that is 18-point and larger or 14-point and larger if it is bold.  For example, here is a gray 18-point text on a white background.  And purple 14-point bold text on a white background.  Again, while this meets the guidelines, it may not necessarily be readable to everyone.  Evaluating accessibility.  Preliminary checks.  Even if you don’t know anything about accessibility, you can check some aspects of accessibility, which leads us into the next entry which is tools.  This includes web accessibility evaluation tools, software or online services that help determine if web content meets accessibility standards.  Evaluation and reports.  Conformance evaluation determines how well web pages or applications meet accessibility standards.  People.  Getting the right people and skills involved makes your accessibility evaluations more effective, and finally standards.  This includes conditions for writing test results and rules.  When developing websites or redesigning a website or a web application, evaluate accessibility early and throughout the process to identify problems when it is easier to address them.  There are tools that help with evaluation, however, no tool alone can determine if a site meets accessibility standards.  Knowledgeable human analysis is required to determine if a site is accessible.  User testing.  The United States Census Bureau estimates that one in five people in the United States has a disability.  Many of them opt out of using a variety of products and services simply because they were not created with their disability in mind.  User testing provides a unique opportunity for companies to better understand how people with disabilities access their products and services, learn what issues they encounter, and improve accessibility.  Why is user testing important?  First-round website and app design may not be perfect for text‑to‑speech and related software.  Reviewing, testing, and adjusting digital access is a must.  The customer knows best.  Blind and low vision individuals have valuable experience and feedback.  In most cases, far more than sighted users using specialized software.  User testing demonstrates companies’ efforts to maximize access with legal benefits.  What is a screen reader?  Screen readers are software applications that attempt to convey what can be viewed on a display to their users via nonvisual means.  In the next segment one of our usability testers, Christina, will demonstrate screen reader usage on a frustrating inaccessible website.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  My name is Christina Clift, and testing websites for WID is an awesome opportunity because often I encounter websites that are not accessible, and that often can close doors to valuable resources, programs, and services that I want to access, as well as others that might have visual disabilities, so doing the testing to learn how to teach others to do accessible websites will hopefully open doors and make for an easier experience in surfing the web.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Can you try to find and read the quote on this homepage?

>> JAWS SCREENREADER: Is this accessible, list of six items.  Is this accessible, skip ‑‑ accessible, same page, skip to content, navigation region end, link checkout, visited link contact us, visited current page link main, link my account, link shop list end navigation region end, button, visit page link and accessible web dot site.  Is this accessible?  Navigation region list of six items.  Link cart, checkout, contact us, visited current page link main, link my account, link shop list region and main level 56899 graphic pixels, 3608311 graphic, quote graphic, heading level two is an example of low contrast.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  This is an example of low contrast text.

>> JAWS SCREENREADER AUTOMATED VOICE: Heading level two, A quote by Lemn Sissay.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  It’s by Lemn Sissay, I’m assuming that’s the one you’re looking for?

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  So you would associate the “this as a is an example of low contrast text” with the quote because that was read immediately after the quote?

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Yeah, yeah.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Next, can you navigate to the store and try to buy soap?

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Same page, link to shops, links list, enter.  Page has five shop.  Shop order combo box.  Default sorting.  Wrapping to top.  Products.  Same page link.  Products.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Products.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Link checkout, visited link, visited link made, link my account, visited link shop, list end, navigation button, visited link inaccessible.  Visited link inaccessible.  Link, is this accessible?  Link checkout.  Visited link, link my account, level one shop.  Link sale.  List of 3 items.  Combo box default sorting.  Shop order.  Combo box default sort.  Enter.  Main.  Products.  Showing all three results.  Shop order.  Combo list of three heading level 2 link to sanitizer, link dollar ten, link add sanitizer, link sale, heading level 2 bath bombs.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Bath bombs, all right. 

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Sale, heading level 2 link dispenser. List end.  All rights — proudly powered by WordPress.  Products U about ton.  Shop order, to top.  Button.  Products.  Button.  Shop order combo box.  Sort by popularity.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Popularity.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Enter. Main region heading level.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  What’s happening when you use that combo box?

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  It’s not reading them as an arrow up and down what your options are, so you’re having to go out of it and come back in to figure out what it changed to, so ‑‑

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Main region, main escape, shop order combo box, enter, main region, shop order S, skip to toolbar, address escape, skip to standard region, navigate escape, product, same page link skip button, shop order wrap to top, button, showing all shop order, combo box

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I’m not seeing soap anywhere…

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Sort by list of heading level to link, link, link dollar seven, link end, main region.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  It actually is dispenser.


>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Heading level to link dispenser, enter, dispenser, link 05/soap.  Heading figure end.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I was listening to see if ‑‑

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Escape. Same page dispenser.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Did you hear soap anywhere?

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I thought I did.

(Automated voice over Christina’s).

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Link button, dispenser quantity tie, box same page link, skip, dispenser, dispenser same page skip to content, navigation region list of six items, link cart, link checkout, visited link contact us, visited link main, heading level one dispenser dollar 10.00, dollar 5.0 fifty dispenser quantity, add to cart button, categorized information tab.  Link additional information, reduce zero tab, link review zero heading level two additional information table with two columns and one rows, heading level two related products list of two items, link sale, heading ‑‑

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Got it. Do you want me to add that to my cart?


>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Even though I don’t want to buy soap? (laughs)

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  List of six items, link cart.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I was looking under the cart to see if it would show cart one item but it just says cart.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Right.  Is that what you typically look for if you actually added it or not?

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Yeah, I look for that number to change.  I’ll go to my cart and see.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Link cart, table land, product, price, quantity, subtotal, link remove site visited link one, visited link dispenser, dollar five dispenser quantity, dispenser quantity edit span box two.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Oh, no, there’s two, I think.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Dollar point apply coupon am.

(Beep sound).

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  It made it in there and it said something soap quick I think it was just changing the page.  But it stayed also on the same product page, so that made me wonder whether it was added or not, and typically if it stays on the same page, you click add to cart and I would think it kept and there was no audio symbol up there where it says cart one item added or whatever.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Go to proceed to checkout and let’s see what happens.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Heading level two cart totals, table subtotal, dollar, shipping, flat rate, dollar five.OO, shipping to MD, link change address, total, dollar ten point table link proceed to checkout, enter, proceed to checkout link, checkout, first name star page has 7 region, checkout button, first name star edit enter.  Christina.  Company name optional.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Part of it on that one is – let me see if I would have been able to find that easy

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Checkout, order received heading level one, checkout, order received heading level one, thank you, your order was ‑‑

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Yeah, it definitely didn’t sound like you were going to another page to let you know that you finished checking out.  Sometime you get a little clicking noise, sometimes it’s a little bit of a feedback within the browser, but I didn’t hear anything on this one.  It was similar to the same experience when you added it to the cart.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  And how about the product itself?  Any issues there?

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  So the product itself, the tag of the picture, I think it is, it said 0.5 and then it said soap.  So the label of the product was dispenser but then the label of the picture was soap.  So you didn’t know whether it was a soap dispenser or just a bar of soap.  So the two didn’t connect together, like what you were looking for and what you were seeing a picture of.

>> Now, let’s take a look at what this experience would be like for our user if the website was accessible.

>> Automated voice:  Visited link accessible web dot site, list of five items, visited current page link home, visited link shop, link my account.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Home link this time, that’s great.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Heading level page one middle‑aged man in a sports jacket and multicolored tie stands in front of a railing with his hands resting in his pockets. Graphic, ladybug crawling across a leaf.  Graphic, the moon tells the sky, the sky tells the sea, and the sea tells the tide, the tide tells me.  Quote by Lemn Sissay graphic.


>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  This is example of high contrast text. Heading level two this is an example of low contrast text.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  The part about the sea, the quote that you had written in gibberish last time, it’s actually accessible this time with the pictures, cool.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Shop enter.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I’ll use my browser link list, it’ll be the quickest.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Four region shop.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  I’ll hit S for shop and let’s see if I can find my soap.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Products.  Same page products.  Same, products.  Same page visited link accessible ‑‑ blank.  List of five link home, visited link my account, contact us, cart, list end, navigation remain heading level one shop.  Showing all three results.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Three results.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Shop order.  Combo box default sorting.  List of three link sale.  Heading level two link dollar .70, heading level two link sanitizer.  Dot link ads, visited link sale, visiting level two soap dispenser.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Aha, soap dispenser.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Products.  Level two link soap dispenser.


>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Soap dispenser heading level one, dollar ten .00, dollar 5.00, 49 in stock quantity, soap dispenser quantity, add to cart, cart.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  The great thing, it’s in stock, and it’s $10.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Soap, soap dispenser, 49 in stock, dollar 10.00, add to cart button, main region, add cart.  Cart.  Soap dispenser quantity, enter main region two.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Change that to two.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Coupon code, type a text.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Coupon code.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Apply coupon button, update cart button to activate.  Shipping, change address, link.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Change address.

>> AUTOMATED VOICE:  Proceed to checkout link, enter.  Checkout.  Checkout.  Page as checkout.  Checkout.  First name star edit, enter, Christina.  Last name Clift.  Company name option.  United States.  The – ship to a different address.  Heading level three check box not checked.  Order notes option.  Contains text.  Type of text.  Privacy policy link.  Place order button to activate.  Enter.  Checkout.  Checkout.  Page has six regions 7 headings and 23 links.  Heading level 1 order received.

>> CHRISTINA CLIFT:  Awesome.  Great.  Much more positive experience knowing that I checked out.  

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Thank you so much for joining us, Christina, and for demonstrating screen reader usage.  Next you’ll hear from one of our clients, TracFone Wireless, who will speak about user testing as a business imperative.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   Hello, my name is Jim Zimmerman, I’m a senior officer of customer care and operations, and I’ve worked for TracFone for 20 years.  My responsibility is to support the teams that provide our products and services to our customers through design, automation, customer care, and support.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  I’m Elizabeth Vega, I’m an Associate Vice President, U.X. design and improvements.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   We actually realized that accessibility was a concern for TracFone, it started out as a compliance opportunity and then it ultimately transformed into a mission, and an alignment with a cultural transformation that our company was going through, along with leadership, our Trac values and focus on customer centricity.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  If you’re a company offering services digitally, services or products that involve digital experiences, you have two choices, right?  You can get dragged into this kicking and screaming, or you dive in.  And kicking and screaming, that approach, you know, we kind of tried it, it’s much more expensive and much more wearing on employees than kind of doing this more planfully and letting employees get involved upfront and learn how to do it and approach it with a solid plan in place.  That is cheaper, it is a better experience for customers, and it’s a better experience for the employees, all around.  So, I do want to emphasize how much pain we had at the beginning, right?  Like we didn’t do everything right, we faced a lot of defects, and that was really a wakeup call, we have to do something to get our hands around this.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   I think the other important thing we learned through struggle is that accessibility wasn’t a single person’s responsibility in the company, it wasn’t necessarily a department’s responsibility, it was the company’s responsibility, and when we were able to push out the need and work with other organizations and basically start training everyone on how to think about accessibility design, our testing in QA department, our developers, our marketing department, what we found was we had an entire organization willing to help us get better for the right reasons and align with collaboration, education, and it really took us to a different level.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  And marshalling the resources to do something different, to change our approach, we really relied on the usability studies that we had done with WID and the videos showing the struggles.  You know, when you take a video and you put it in front of a team of developers and executive leaders and they see people crying trying to get a product activated, everybody kind of realizes, okay, we need to approach this differently.  And it was really tremendously useful to have the kind of impactful studies and video to share to get everybody lined up.  Even developers who thought that they knew how to code, it’s really helpful to see the different kind of struggles people have.  And now we do testing with WID once a quarter, and we still find things that we didn’t think of, so we just, that has been a really useful part of the journey for us in terms of changing the perspective and completely changing the approach, instead of throw it out there and then fix it if it doesn’t work, we had to just completely rethink how we did it.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   Before, we would kind of make products and force it into the marketplace.  By working with WID and usability studies, right, what we could do is we could modify our user experiences prior to releasing them into production and have a much more successful customer engagement and deliver our services more effectively.  You can’t underemphasize how doing inclusive design and figuring out easier ways for customers to activate a cell phone, engage with your websites, better color contrasts and larger text, it helps every customer across every segment.  So it’s really made us better with our automation, it’s improved our design, and we wouldn’t necessarily be able to see that if we weren’t having the usability studies and actually sitting down with customers and getting that proper feedback, right, and really, you know, candid feedback on where the opportunities actually are for us to improve our customer engagement and channels.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA: And we do things like auditing, like automated scanning, like training, like usability to complement each other to make sure that we have a better chance of getting it right.  We even have a supplier management program now where we let potential suppliers know upfront that there are some expectations around accessibility so that we don’t bring them on board and then hit them with something that for them is sort of an expensive and last-minute need.  So really, we’re going as deeply as we can into our own processes and our suppliers’ processes so that nobody has the surprise and everybody can plan for what they need to do, because we’ve realized that planning for it means it doesn’t have to be such a big deal, right?  It’s not a big deal if you don’t have to fix something that you broke in production.  We did our accessibility summits so we invited partners to tell us what they need instead of us just guessing at what we think you need, we invited partners in for them to tell us.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   Our partnership with WID has really helped TracFone and our customers through identifying opportunities, realizing potential and then ultimately delivering on solutions for real customer struggles.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  One of the big things WID helped us with is just in recruiting the right audiences to engage in our processes.  We didn’t necessarily know how to do that and we were sensitive to the idea that we need to test with a range of different disabilities, but we didn’t know how to go about that and WID helped us, hugely. And of course, these segments have very different needs, so people who maybe have dexterity issues have completely different needs than blind users.  We didn’t always get that at the beginning, we certainly get it now, and WID was instrumental in helping us get that and understand what was needed for each of these different segments in order for us to get better.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   We really feel that designing for simplicity, inclusion is really a competitive advantage specifically in our space.  It is one way for us to stand out and deliver our services to areas of the marketplace that may be overlooked.  It’s made us better, it’s helped with our culture, it’s brought collaboration, design and testing all focused and it certainly aligns with our overall mission.  So, we see it as a business competitive advantage and along with really serving to a great purpose, which has been a really great alignment with everything TracFone and our cultural transformation over the last five years.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  There’s another benefit that is actually important, and that is, the kinds of things that customers need for an accessible process and a digital channel are also the kinds of things that automated monitoring software needs.  So, it’s really hard for people, for us as a company, to truly understand the success rates of things that happen in the websites, unless you have some kind of monitoring software, out there looking at it.  Exactly the kind of things we need to make something really accessible, those kinds of software need in order to operate well.  So that also helped us have better visibility into things that were not working.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   It’s extremely important for us to be a low‑cost operator, and we tend to try and automate as many processes as possible in order to be much more efficient and it allows us to be innovative and focus on improving our voice experience, chat, and other innovative technologies that our competitors may not necessarily focus on.  So, it’s been a great experience overall because it allows us to be both innovative and focus on really delivering simplified and successful customer experiences.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  Employees who are engaged in this really feel strongly about it.  People want to do this.  And it makes them feel like, you know, they have something that’s kind of bigger than themselves that they’re contributing to that is important.

>> JIM ZIMMERMAN:   Once we realized that this isn’t just a compliance opportunity, once we get beyond the compliance part we actually realized that it is a great engagement opportunity, it is a great growth engine for ourselves and it’s a great motivator of our employee base.  So when you tie all those things together, it was extremely, it’s been a great experience and we look forward to it in the future.

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  Thank you all for sticking with us.  We hope you enjoyed hearing from our panelists.  And we’ve collected a couple questions that we are going to field with our panelists right now.  Oh, I am so sorry, let’s make sure, where is our ASL?  There you are.  There you go.  All right.

So, our first question today was from Sarah, and she asked, is there a way to test your own website to see if it’s as bad as the simulation that we showed?  And I’m actually going to ask Dustin to chime in first on that.  But Tali and Frances, feel free to answer any questions that come up.  Thank you for being here.

>> DUSTIN SNOWADZKY:  Hi.  Thank you so much, Kat.  Thank you so much for the question, Sarah.  It’s a great first question.

So my answer is, there are a lot of automated evaluation tools that exist online for checking websites.  We would typically recommend some of the more established checkers like Wave or the Acc Dev tools by DQ, however, with that said, no tool alone can determine if a site meets accessibility standards, knowledgeable human evaluation is required to determine if a site is accessible.  For example, checkers can tell you when alt text is missing or added to a photo but can’t tell you if that alt text is usable or if it’s written in a way that people can understand and that covers the visual information.

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  That is absolutely a great answer.  Awesome.  I have a couple questions here geared at business, and we have Elizabeth, Frances and Tali.  So I’m going to ask this one.  Why don’t businesses do usability testing right away?  It’s a hard question to answer, isn’t it?  I think Elizabeth spoke to this a little bit in her segment, and my answer to this question is, you know, I think that we don’t educate our programmers or executives about this issue well enough so I think there’s a little bit of you don’t know what you don’t know to that question.

>> Tali Bray:  Would you like us to weigh in?

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  Yes, please do.

>> Tali Bray:  Great.  Hi, I’m Tali Bray.  She/hers.  I’m from Wells Fargo.  I think you heard from me earlier.  You know, what I would share is that often I think an organization, certainly in large organizations, supporting sort of diverse needs can often be viewed as something that is taken after a product is designed and developed, either because, I think to your comment, diverse needs aren’t understood and/or there are, I will say, erroneous cost considerations.  But what we do know is that when accessibility is not considered at the forefront, it will actually have the opposite impact with significant ‑‑ from a cost perspective and from a product performance perspective with significant increases in expense with rework.  And so ultimately you are creating a less effective product that is more expensive and you’ve certainly delivered a less accessible experience.  I mean, we know that up to 25 percent of the U.S. population has some form of disability ranging from common challenges like color blindness to low vision or more complex challenges with mobility and complete vision loss, and ensuring that our customers can, regardless of what their abilities are, can interact and engage with us for financial services is critical for independence and creates loyalty, and good customer experience is beneficial for all of our customers.  So that is what we are sort of ‑‑ why we are sort of making a very concerted effort internally and pivoting that willing to deliver for accessible experiences at the start of product design, product development and including sort of test-driven development practices around accessibility through the product life cycle is extremely valuable not only for the disability community, but for all of our customers.  And ultimately ends up developing and delivering a more cost‑effective and more accessible product.

>> Frances West:  Hi, this is Frances.  And I was also in the earlier video, and I would like to add to the comment that Tali just made.  I think there’s also a maturity kind of factor at play here.  If you look at the kind of technology evolution, what we call the B2B business, the back end business actually has been in play for a few decades now.  So for companies like the company like financial services, like a bank, they actually pay a lot more attention, for example, to testing methodologies and all that.  And I think in the last ten, fifteen years, you see the emergence of what we call the consumer-based technology, right?  So a lot of our user experience on the iPhone, and that industry came up very quickly, and then the whole kind of mindset is, okay, let’s just get the product out quickly, so we went from very kind of sudden development life cycle to these agile development, you know, fast, you know, quick sprint and here and there.  So I think what happened is sure, you can get a product out quickly but then you’re not testing, for example, you’re not building some of the discipline in there.  I think for a while it was okay because people are very enthusiastic about oh, let me get my hands on this new app, new next shiny object, but then over time, I think very quickly people realize when you just go for the speed and the efficiency, I mean, the speed, actually just on the speed, you actually compromise the experience potentially of a segment of the population, so I think as a technology, especially what I call the human facing or human experience apps and applications, more thought has to come into play, and that’s when the diversity of a tester, remediators or designers or developers have to come into play.  So I’m hoping that, I’m hopeful that with just the user experience themselves and also the social media recognition and also promotion of the equity and equality, then the technology company will actually will learn faster and quicker that this is actually a necessary step that one cannot just, you know, shortchange it.

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  Thank you so much.  Great answers.  I really appreciate it.  We have another question from Victoria.  I’m a sole proprietor with not a lot of money to spend on my website, but I want to be accessible.  Where do you recommend a tiny company like mine start?  Well, I’m serious here, you should contact me at WID,  We customize services for everybody.  We can make sure that we meet your budget needs because ultimately our goal is to make sure companies have accessible websites, and we will work with you to do just an internal review or a very small testing for not a lot of money to make sure that your site is accessible.  Absolutely.  And I have one more question here, and I think this is also to business.  Can you tell us a little bit more about how the work you do uniquely prepares your company to implement accessibility?  Do any of our speakers have a response for this one?  Go ahead, Elizabeth.  Yes, absolutely.  You are muted.

>> ELIZABETH VEGA:  In my area we have UX design under our umbrella, and we have done a lot of work to get training for the designers.  I think Frances pointed out that a lot of designers are not very knowledgeable about accessibility so one of the first things we did was make sure that everybody on that team went through training and understood what are the basic techniques for making digital properties accessible.  We also trained the developers and what we also found was really very important was training the testers, because that was a step that we kept missing or that we weren’t doing right and even though we were working at it, we were still getting defects had production because we didn’t have a testing team that really understood how to use the technology and to test effectively with it.

>> KAT ZIGMONT: Absolutely, great answer. I agree training is really important.  Go ahead, Tali.

>> TALI BRAY:  Certainly everybody on this call appreciates that what I would say for us, ensuring that our customers, right, all of our customers can successfully manage banking online is a really core objective.  So we have really integrated the idea of accessibility, as I sort of mentioned earlier, into our product design.  So we have an accessibility team that is part of our digital strategy and platform and innovation organization that’s the center of execution, and that organization is really responsible for driving accessible experiences, providing specialized accessibility consultation, leading like sprint‑level accessibility validation during the agile life cycle and supporting evolving governance and regulatory changes.  I think to Frances’ earlier comment, you know, we are a very large organization, and we are a mature organization, so we have the capability to sort of dedicate this focus and it’s even an evolution for us but we’re recognizing that we need to integrate accessibility within the overall program life cycle at the front end, so as our developers, as our test engineers, as our product designers are thinking about product, it’s integrated from the beginning.  So we’re developing and launching to the latest accessibility standards and then additionally, we perform comprehensive accessibility testing of all of our digital properties, you know, using some of the tools that were discussed here. And I would also say that for large companies that work with a lot of software vendors, we have to work with those software vendors to ensure that they are adhering to the same level of accessibility that we are, and that’s also a big challenge, right?  Because we have legal agreements with these software vendors.  They may be looking at different levels of accessibility, and so that’s another area of focus for us.

>> Frances West:  Can I just give a plug to Wells Fargo?  I don’t know Tali if you know this or not, but I actually hosted a three‑day session of Wells Fargo executives back in 2015, they came to Austin, Texas, the IBM design headquarters, and that was like the beginning of the design thinking, design methodology.  So we structured a three‑day all the way from using the IBM design thinking how we implement that into the IBM portfolio and share with the Wells Fargo team including some of the new tooling because I think one of the questions that came up, how do I make things, you know, accessible if I have a small budget.  Believe it or not, a large company like IBM and Wells Fargo, we too have a lot of budget pressure, and if you think about it as worldwide development, we have like 200,000 developers, how do you train them.  You cannot train them without some tooling.  I still remember one of my members, one of my employees said to me, you know, tools, not rules.  We talked about WCAG 2.0, all these rules.  Tools not rules.  I say okay, and we actually share with them.  A lot of IBM’s automated tooling for testing and remediation with accessibility is actually open source.  But anyway, just going back to the point that it is one thing, I love to hear, you know, TracFone, you guys talked about, it really is a cultural transformation.  One else you get it, it’s almost like religion, I don’t know whether I should say religion, it could be politically correct or incorrect, but once you believe, you see everything differently.  And then you have to be patient, you know.  You cannot be ‑‑ there’s no end on accessibility.  It’s just always the beginning.  So have patience but accumulate your knowledge.  Like the journey at Wells Fargo, like I said, I can think back, I still have that presentation from 2015, so Tali, maybe one of those days we can look at that.  Yeah.

>> KAT ZIGMONT:  Thank you so much.  I’m recognizing that we’re at the top of the hour.  Thank all of you for joining us today and for your thoughtful questions, and we’re so glad to share our expertise in disability accessibility, and we hope that you will make a plan for how your business can become more accessible for people with disabilities.  If you’re interested in working with WID to evaluate the accessibility and create an effective solution, please reach out to me,  And the if you would like to support WID’s work, please make a donation on our website, also pasted in the chat for you.  Thank you so much, and I hope everyone has an amazing Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

>> ELIZABEH VEGA:   Thank you for hosting, Kat.

>> TALI BRAY:   Thank you, Kat.  Bye‑bye.

(The event concluded at 5:01 p.m. EST)

* * * This text, document, or file is based on live transcription.  Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.  This text, document, or file is not to be distributed or used in any way that may violate copyright law. * * *

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