Ep 234 – Understanding Workplace Accessibility Technology Testing

We’ve talked a lot about accessibility selection in our Future of Work series with PEAT. Today I wanted to dive into what accessibility technology testing looks like. What is involved and what do companies look for as they are vetting and partnering with technology companies. In this interview we’re talking with an accessibility tester who will share not only his technical insights but his expertise on what we should be looking for, the process, as well as advise for technology companies as they develop accessible tech for workplaces to purchase and deploy. 

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this July, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. 

 

Episode 234: Understanding Workplace Accessibility Technology Testing

 

I’m joined by Hadi Rangin. Hadi is an information technology accessibility specialist for Accessible Technology Services (ATS), which includes the Accessibility Technology Center (ATC) and DO‑IT. His main focus in working with DO‑IT is to promote accessible design for students across the nation, and working with staff, developers, administration, and technology vendors. Hadi has worked with companies including Zoom, Microsoft, Workday, and Peoplesoft. 

Over the last three years as part of this Future work Work Series, we’ve talked a lot about technology selection and accessibility testing. The question is really how to do you conduct accessibility testing. I wondered what the best practice was to this type of testing and how we can partner more with technology providers to make sure the workplace technology we select is accessible.This is why I wanted to go straight to the source and talked with my podcast guest today.

Hadi’s work provides accessibility services support and testing for the entire campus at the University of Washington. He and his team mates focus on a wide variety of accessibility computing projects some of which are funded by federal grants, including National Science Foundation. He says the supporting access engineering work they do helps to broaden the participation of people with disabilities for all including employees and students at the university.

 

How to Ensure Your Workplace Technology Is Accessible 

 

In this podcast series over the years, we’ve heard some stories about technology purchases they weren’t as accessible as the technology sales people suggested they were. Hadi, being an accessibility tester on the front lines, I wanted to hear from him on how as employers, we should work to ensure that the technology we purchase is accessible for every employee in our organization. His suggestion is to have an accessibility tester and team. He suggests having an employee as a volunteer to oversee this process. He says that he and his coworkers are involved in every single technology purchasing decision from the very beginning. It allows them to evaluate the technology from the very beginning supporting the part of the organization who is working through an RFP and/or a purchase decision ensuring they ask the right questions of the technologies they are considering purchasing.

I love the idea of having a point person to help streamline the process and ensure that features and benefits aren’t overlooked. Most often business leaders are not technology experts, and we will ask about accessibility but often take the word of the sales person instead of pressing for a testing and evaluation period to really put the technology through the paces and ensure it meets our full expectations.

Now Hadi, has worked with a number of different technologies and systems including large HCM companies like Workday and Peoplesoft. The key is to start the conversations on accessibility at the start. These conversations take time and effort to have, but if they are a standard part of the technology evolution process, they often don’t impact your purchase or your implementation timeline because they are happening in tandem to other parts of your process.

 

Conclusion

 

Hadid shared in this interview that accessibility is as important as security when it comes to technology. Companies are hiring or employing entire teams who are focused on testing and working with technology partners to ensure that the tech we purchase is accessible to all employees. My hope is that technology companies will listen and learn from this podcast interview. We need to be accessibility focused from inception instead of after the fact. 

The future of work series in partnership with PEAT is one of my favorites. Thank you to PEAT as well as our podcast series sponsor. 

Connect with Hadi Rangin on LinkedIn

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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