Ather Sharif speaks about accessibility at Technical.ly's Rise Conference. (Chris Kendig Photography)
Those working in social impact talk a lot about innovation, community and accessibility — but what do those words really mean, and how can social impact leaders make sure they’re employing them in their workplaces?
That was the focus of Ather Sharif’s talk during the second day of Technical.ly’s Rise Conference. Sharif is the cofounder of EvoXLabs, a tech company that aims to make web technologies more accessible.
Here were Sharif’s tips for making innovation communities more accessible, too:
- Hire people with disabilities, and not just because it’s the “right” thing to do: Having a more diverse team “fosters the development of next-generation products and services,” Sharif said. Their opinions will lead to products that can be used by more people. “It’s just the definition of universal design.”
- Organize events that encourage collaboration: The point of hackathons is to foster a community of thinkers. Make sure people with disabilities are able to participate so their opinions can be heard.
- Learn about workplace limitations: You don’t know what you don’t know, so host a workshop to educate your team about how to be a more accessible workplace.
- Test your product before it ships: It can be hella expensive to make products and services accessible after the fact. Save yourself the headache and time and work through accessibility problems during development.
- Think about the basics: Everyone uses the Internet, so consider who is being excluded from checking out your website. Doing so is a good business move: If your website is inaccessible to blind and deaf people, it won’t show up in Google for them. Making it accessible improves your SEO and online presence, opening your product or services to even more potential customers.
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