Keen to build a career in the area of Accessibility… where to start and how to grow?

I think it’s people who encourage me to write a few posts and this time a former colleague from HCL Technologies. He is a visual designer and his question to me via Twitter is:

Hello Srinivasu, How’s work at Deque Systems? I’m a visual designer and wants to specialize in Accessibility. Your guidance is appreciated on where to start.

Thought writing a post would not only helps this friend but may be of help to many.

Accessibility is an unique and respectable profession in industry. Uniqueness of Accessibility career is that it’s not only fulfill responsibility of a professional duty but also creates social impact. Here are a few pre-requisites to make career in the area of accessibility.

  1. Passion
  2. Patience – growth in accessibility career or business would certainly take time but brings a lot of satisfaction and success one day
  3. Ability to think from diverse user prospective
  4. Ability to think both as tester and developer

Here is my story how I began my journey in the area of accessibility.

In 2003, when I was working for The National Association for the Blind, Karnataka Branch, with the help of a few volunteers, we have developed a website for the organization (First snapshot of the website on Internet Archive). Website has a great design, used HTML and tons of JavaScript (you can guess website have a lot of layout tables!). We were passionate to use drop down menus and images. After building the whole website, we have realized that we were building a website that caters to the needs of people with vision impairment, which includes imparting training in information technology. Interestingly we have also realized that website we have developed does not work when browsing with assistive technologies! That’s then we started thinking of alternatives.

In 2005, a good friend and teacher Shilpi Kapoorasked me if I would want to make a career in the accessibility and I have accepted her offer. So that’s my start in the area of accessibility at Net Systems Informatics India Pvt. Ltd (Now BarrierBreak Solutions Private Limited.

To begin career in the area of accessibility, first one needs to decide in what area would they be keen to bring in change.Some of the areas that needs attention from accessibility prospective are:

  1. Physical infrastructure (buildings, transport, environment etc.,)
  2. Web Accessibility
  3. Documents accessibility
  4. Accessibility of education
  5. Electronics Accessibility
  6. Accessibility training (need to choose area of interest)

… and much more!

Sadly (or luckily) there are not many formal training offerings in the area of Accessibility. Reason I say lucky is because self learning is much powerful than class room learning. One can learn to the extent of what he or she would want.

Here are some resources to get started on Accessibility. Note that since I primarily work in the area of web accessibility, below list may not have enough resources on other areas of accessibility.

I was almost began to list several resources but to luck touched me through Rakesh Paladugula, who shared an excellent resource Web design resource from University of Minnesota Duluth.

This post would follow a series with advice and resources in specific areas.

Good luck to build a career in the area of accessibility.

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