How we inspire accessibility professionals at Barrierbreak! – Guest column by Shilpi Kapoor, Founder, Barrier Break
In the guest column this week, Shilpi Kapoor sheds light on how accessibility is promoted among professionals at her accessibility consulting firm Barrier Break.
As an entrepreneur, one of the three P’s of growing an organization is People. BarrierBreak aims to create a limitless future for people with disabilities by using technology as an enabler. Our aim is to assist organizations to make their technology accessible to people with disabilities. You would ask, how do you help organizations to be accessible?
One way that we support organizations is by providing accessibility testing by a team of skilled accessibility testers. This team comprises of disabled testers also! We invest highly in training and mentoring our accessibility testers. I wouldn’t even be exaggerating if I said that a large number of the early accessibility professionals in India, have been connected with BarrierBreak, whether being our employees, attending the accessibility training programs or then inspired by what we are doing.
I had hoped that over the course of the years, the number of professionals focusing in this area would increase. But I believe the trend is slow and often that is due to the demand of the IT companies. As Shwetank Dixit, once said to me, “We need to make Accessibility Cool”. Everytime I remember this conversation between us, I smile and grin and say “Yes, It is cool! It should be cool!”
But today, in India, the professionals that we find fall in a few buckets:
Catch them Early – Hire freshers, they probably have never even heard of the term and inspire them. Invest in them and provide them the training on accessibility.
For me accessibility has always been go back to the basics whether its HTML, coding or anything. It’s a good place to start. If you can inspire them early, then you have a winner! I know we have a lot of people from BarrierBreak, who fall in this bracket! Professionals who have done 1 or 2 projects in their career – We find a lot of these professionals in the industry today who have been on projects where Accessibility was an ask, so they learnt a little and managed to deliver. Its more about the industry requirement. They haven’t been convinced on accessibility to make it a part of their DNA. But they have tried something!
We get a lot of CVs which fall in this bracket, how do we convert them to accessibility believers?
Professionals who are inspired – These professionals might have encountered Accessibility maybe in their job but then they bought in to the idea! They believed that Accessibility should be there, it shouldn’t be an option. They lobby within their projects and team for accessibility! We are looking these people, don’t wait, give us a shout!
Internally, at BarrierBreak, we live and breathe accessibility! It is our primary mantra! From day one, this is what our employees learn, we instill in them the need to take accessibility beyond their work. I smile when I hear some of them share about how they feel about accessibility, how they talk to their family members about it, how even if they left BarrierBreak, they would continue to focus on accessibility.
Accessibility is in their DNA!