Ep 245: How Customer Experience Starts with Accessibility

Sometimes the business case might get in the way of just doing the right thing. This happens a lot in my opinion when we are looking at accessibility and diversity and inclusion efforts. We often get caught up in the ROI of doing something instead of doing it because it’s the right thing. It’s not so much about the ROI as it is with being a good citizen of the universe and making your business and workplace accessible. 

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 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, 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. Today, I’m joined by Ted Drake.  

Ep 245: How Customer Experience Starts with Accessibility with Ted Drake (@ted_drake)

Ted Drake is the Global Accessibility Leader at Intuit, a financial software company that creates TurboTax and QuickBooks. Prior to Intuit, Ted co-founded Yahoo’s Accessibility Lab and was a developer evangelist. Ted speaks regularly at technology conferences and is a co-chair of the 2021 Web4All Conference for accessibility research. 

Taking an Empathy Approach to Customer and Employee Accessibility

Ted shares that his goal as part of the accessibility team is to take themselves out of it and to help them broaden their perspectives. He says it is important to think about people with disabilities, different genders, race, socioeconomic, family structure, the whole broad spectrum of the community. He’s and the team are helping design product, services, and technology that everyone can use including a mother of two children working two jobs who is just launching her business as an entrepreneur. These are the kinds of things they ask themselves and think about in whatever technology, service, or enhancement they add. This is called an empathy approach which isn’t unlike how design thinking using that in their own processes. I’ll link to a design thinking podcast interview in the resources where we talk about how to take an empathy approach to the employee experience.

Serving as a Mentor Especially for People with Disabilities

Mentorship is really important and I love the meaningful ways that Ted is active in his community but also at Intuit. He says he has hired two interns that have disabilities and is planning on hiring more. Ted encourages us to broaden our horizons beyond top tiered schools (I agree) and look to build relationships with everyone especially those who are taking the time to share their personal experiences and participating in the community. Ted says he gives back helping to share the importance of not just accessibility when it comes to tech but employment and workplace opportunities by talking and mentoring students through programs like Teach Access. He does this so others can connect with him and understand the passion that drives him.

I love how giving Ted is and how he acknowledges that so many others have influenced him in his work and also in the accessibility community. He is such an inspiration to others. I love his and Intuit’s approach to inclusion, diversity and product and software accessibility. It’s important for tech companies to focus on accessibility and talk directly with their customers about features, enhancements and changes. Which is why I’m challenging HR leaders to get on the phone and build relationships with their HR technology software vendors. I want more accessibility for our employees. It is our responsibility as HR leaders to hold these technology companies accountable, start asking questions and build those relationships.

Connect with Ted Drake on LinkedIn.


Ted’s personal website

Intuit Accessibility

– Twitter #A11Y hashtag

Inclusive Design 24 event

Virtual Workplace Accessibility Guide 

Ep 174: Using Design Thinking in Human Resources 

AskJan Network for Job accommodations 

Adobe Web accessibility resource guide 

Podcast Transcript


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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. Sneha says

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