Users Are the Benchmarks for Accessibility, Not Simply Compliance — ACE-ED.ORG

By Valerie Schreiner, originally published in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Equity & Access

As someone who’s led development of education technology products at multiple companies, I always thought, and believed, that we were doing everything we should do to make our products accessible. We had the mission statements and the policies in place and we actively considered the needs of our user communities in design and deployment.

I thought we were doing everything right until it was obvious we were not.

That moment came at a previous job when we hosted a webinar on accessibility where we would be demonstrating our teaching and learning technology. I joined the event and saw a blind professor start his presentation. Things were very wrong. He could not advance his slides, could not read the chat. Professionally and personally, the obvious tech failure was a slow motion nightmare.

At that point, I had a choice – crawl in a hole or deal with it. So, I called the professor and said, “We are trying. We thought we were doing well. But it’s clearly not working; will you help me?”

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