Ep 132 – The Future of Accessible Workplace Technology

Workology Podcast Episode 132: Future of Work: Making Our Future Workplace Technology Accessible

If the subject of accessibility isn’t on your radar, it’s time for it to be there. As technology becomes an even more important part of our lives and workplaces, it’s important that tech is accessible to everyone. But it’s not just the technologies and tools that need to be accessible, the hiring, selection, and entire employment life cycle should be built with accessibility and inclusiveness in mind.

As part of our Future of Work series in partnership with PEAT, we wanted to explore more about technology specifically machine learning and how it is providing work opportunities for adults with disabilities.

Episode 132: Future of Work: Making Workplace Technology Accessible with Larry Goldberg and Kate Sonka (@kate_sonka)

Larry Goldberg and Kate Sonka are both part of the Teach Access collaborative. Larry is the Senior Director of Accessible Media with Oath, formerly Yahoo. Kate Sonka is the Assistant Director of Academic Technology at Michigan State University. Teach Access is a partnership of technology companies dedicated to preparing designers, engineers and researchers to think and build future technologies inclusively. Teach Access works with academic programs in design, engineering, and HCI that are seeking ways to better prepare students to address the needs of diverse populations.

Both Larry and Kate provide great insights into how Teach Access is helping to change accessible technology, some of their available programs as well as faculty grants, and ways for listeners to get involved as a member company or academic institution and/or volunteer.

Training the Workplace on Accessible Design Principles and Philosophies

One of the things I love about Teach Access is that it was founded by accessibility industry leaders both from academia and well-known technology companies.  Their members include the Who’s Who of top technology companies like Facebook, Adobe, Google, Microsoft and others who are experiencing in their workplaces the challenges of finding talent who are familiar and experienced with writing code or building software and technology frameworks with accessibility in mind. Teach Access provides support and resources for professors and students on accessible design and how to include accessibility in their existing graduate and undergraduate programs.

Real Life Learning on Accessible Technology with Study Away Programs

Larry and Kate talk about Teach Access’s support resources, grants, and programs e important resources including a Teach Access’s boot camp for teachers and a study away programs for students. Their boot camp programs provide teachers a classroom style environment learning about accessibility, challenges developers might face and best practices to taking what they’ve learned back to the classrooms.

The study away program allows students to visit a number of companies and their campuses, hear about their accessibility philosophies, talk directly to potential employers, and network with other students and professionals in the industry. During this week-long program, students come away with a deep understanding of what does it mean to be an accessibility professional and the type of work projects these companies and their accessibility teams are tackling. In the resources section below, be sure to visit the program links to learn more about their study away program and their faculty grants.

Tech Access is a great organization and I love the partnership and a collaboration that is happening. It makes my heart happy to know that companies are working to make their tech as well as the employment process more accessible. I hope you’ll think more about that in your own workplaces and also reach out to Teach Access and consider being a part of their mission to drive change.

Connect with Larry Goldberg on LinkedIn and Kate Sonka on LinkedIn. You can also connect Teach Access via email at info@techaccess.org.


· Who Teaches Accessibility?

· Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

· Information on Teach Access Faculty Grants and Information on Teach Access Study Away Program

· Episode 128 Transcript

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You can also click here to find out how to be a guest on the Workology Podcast. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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