3 Things Every Dev Should Know About Inclusivity

Fact: More than 26% of adults in the United States have some form of disability. To ignore such a huge part of the population would be unwise for any company, legally, financially and above all morally. How do you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to maintaining a progressive and responsive organization?

We reached out to two experts – Alwar Pillai and Perry Trinier of Fable – on the topic of designing products that include people with disabilities at their core. Here are the three things they think every engineer, developer, and product designer needs to know about end-to-end design and how it will inevitably affect the future of their companies.

1. The truly comprehensive design has given us Alexa, Siri, and countless other smart gadgets

People often assume that tech companies are driving innovation through focus groups or trying to meet the needs of the average consumer, but that’s not always true. Some of the greatest recent innovations in technology have been found by designing technology to be as accessible to people with disabilities as possible. By keeping the design process inclusive, you increase your growth potential.

Alor Pillay: Each of us today uses technology that was designed for assistive technology users first, starting with a simple electric toothbrush designed for people with mobility impairments, but this is something everyone is using now… Your voice to text was for people with disabilities again. And now we have … Siri and Alexa, and like dictation, and it all was there because it’s designed for people with disabilities first, so it’s already proven that when you practice inclusive design and design for high-end situations, there’s a broader impact.”

2. An inclusive workplace culture attracts better talent

When you put inclusivity and accessibility at the front lines of your business culture and development process, you not only increase your potential customer base but your pool of applicants and make your workforce more efficient. Some of the best talent in the world of inclusive design comes from the people who use accessibility technology every day. Maximizing access to potential employees gives your company the best chance of finding the right person for the job. What does it mean today to build a senior developer culture for accessibility?

Berry Trainer: I think it’s kind of like the opposite of saying that accessibility is an afterthought. In this case, accessibility is absolutely essential. It is also similar to the team’s shared understanding that accessibility is not a plus or a drawback that can accrue. It’s just a quota table for the quality of what they’re building, and they kind of haven’t finished building what they’re doing if it’s still inaccessible.

Alor Pillay: There are a lot of hindrances when it comes to trying to build an inclusive team, just for the workplace tools that are out there, you know? …and so we had to do a lot of … custom solutions for some of the things. But it did lead to everyone on the team understanding the impact of accessibility and taking that extra initiative and making sure that everything they share with… each other internally is easily accessible to everyone.

3. The overall design effect is about to explode

There seems to be a culture gap when it comes to inclusion and many companies are reluctant to make the changes needed to nurture an accessible work culture. Putting in the effort to make real change is essential to the health of your business and to the respect of individuals who need accessible technology. More and more individuals and companies are seeing the need to keep pace with inclusive design or, better yet, lead the way to creating new and exciting ways to stay inclusive.

Berry Trainer: I think it’s important to invest in helping team members build knowledge and set specific goals for reports, for example, completing an accessibility training course. It’s an important skill, just like security and performance for front-end developers. It must be treated in the same way for professional development. And there are plenty of online courses on LinkedIn and Udacity. A lot of blog posts and conversations by community experts like Marcy Sutton are geared towards developers, like front end developers who just need to know what they need to know to be able to test their interfaces and build experiences that everyone can use, so I would say that This is the place to start is to just build that capacity.

Design is changing…Moving towards a more inclusive future

There is a fundamental gap in what is provided and what is required for the many people who use accessibility technology. The way of the future is to practice and maintain an inclusive design culture all Someone to consider in your design process.

Alor Pillay: The way we build digital products is now broken. There is a digital divide between the experiences of people with disabilities and those of healthy people. As people who are part of engineering teams and engineering cultures, it is our responsibility to make sure that we change the way we build products and make the process more inclusive, so that more and more people have access to the products we build.

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If you want to learn more about Fable and its ability to help your company develop and grow while staying affordable, please visit www.makeitfable.com. Be sure to listen to and check out the podcast from this interview and many others on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube, or any of your favorite streaming apps. Also, be sure to join the Dev Interrupt Discord community as we have conversations about topics like this that last all week.

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