Ep 186 – Data Visualization Accessibility for Employees, Teams, & Leaders

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a data nerd and absolutely love charts and graphs as a way to analyze and assess the performance of a client recruitment campaign or in evaluating Workology’s own digital performance and downloads. Data is everything in business which is why it shouldn’t surprise you accessible data visualization is also something we should consider as businesses to make strides in our workplaces as well as digital resources more accessible.

This podcast is sponsored by ClearCompany and is part of our Future of Work series in partnership with PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology.

This data visualization is also called data sonification and even Bloomberg offers this service to their subscribers. Data sonification is a growing business trend. 

Episode 186: Data Visualization Accessibility for Employees, Teams, & Leaders with Doug Schepers (@shepazu)

Today, I’m joined by Doug Schepers.

He is the Chief Technologist at Fizz Studio which is a consultancy for creating a better way to create and explore information graphics. They create custom solutions for making data visualizations accessible to all users, including people with disabilities.

Data Sonification & Making Data Visualization Accessibility

Doug shares that the rate of data collection is exponential and it’s doubling every two years. That means that 90 percent of the data that’s in the world today was generated over the last two years alone and that same trend has been going on for the last 20 years. He says there is just an enormous amount of data to deal with and it is only going to increase. Data is important because it helps us identify, see patterns, and trends.

One of the ways that we use data visualizations is in the form of charts and graphs. This includes bar charts, line graphs, and pie charts but also maps, scatter plots, and parallel points. These charts are hard for people with low vision or who are sight impaired. They can’t see the data to identify the trends and dive into the information as it is presented which is where data visualization accessible technology comes in.

Accessibility and Access for Everyone

Doug says if our business charts and data aren’t accessible, it really limits our own and our team’s business whether it’s employee engagement, business growth strategy, or talking with your customers.  I’ve learned this first hand in my work with PEAT. Making career sites, and resources such as power points and alt tags on images allowing for accessibility is so important.

He reminds us that half of all blind people in the United States are unemployed because partly because they don’t have the right tools at work to be able to perform the tasks they need to be able to perform. and that data visualization is a part of that. The second thing that you need to think about is what risks. He says if we choose not to open up our businesses up to by not making my content and resources accessible to all customers, clients, and the employee populations, we are making a conscious choice that will negatively impact many business and personal factors.

Doug also touches on WCAG guidelines as well as best practices for data visualization which are limited. This is one of the reasons he set out on his own to develop this data sonification technology to help push forward standards to drive accessibility change. We will link to a previous podcast episode that dives into WCAG in a bit more detail that supports Doug’s work in this area.

When you're doing data visualization you should think of it as writing a poem, not a novel. You need to communicate more complex ideas. - @shepzau #accessibility #inclusion #bigdata Click To Tweet

The Importance of Audio in the Workplace and Inclusion

This is a fascinating discussion and one that I think we are going to see more of as our use of data to drive business decisions continues to grow. I’m also interested in seeing in the coming months and years how audiovisual assistants like Siri, Google Home, and Alex will continue to push forward how we use and add audio to our lives. Certainly, I’m invested in the importance of audio as someone who now has two different podcasts, this one and a second that launched earlier this year called Workology Go Podcast which is a 5 minute 2 times a week daily new podcast highlighting a single story for the HR and recruiting community.

Connect with Doug Schepers.


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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.

Reader Interactions


  1. Aayushi Kashyap says

    A people engagement tool will make sure that the meetings between the candidates and the leadership are scheduled as per their availability. The tool also helps the leadership to give a score to the interaction, based on which the next decision maker can prepare for the session. This will help give a lot more perspective to the leaders: http://www.peoplehum.com/#bl


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