When did you join the team?
I’ve been with Intopia since June 2018. Almost a year now, which seems crazy: the time is really flying by!
Tell us a bit about your work history that led you here.
I’ve worked in testing roles for over a decade. Prior to Intopia I was a Test Lead for the Department of Education. Over the six or so years that I worked there I gained some great practical experience testing accessibility in an agile setting. I was able to experience first hand a lot of the challenges that agile teams face as they try to build accessible products. I love that now I get to share the knowledge gained from those experiences and use it to help others.
What are you looking forward to working on in your new role at Intopia?
I’m really enjoying working on Intopia’s internal projects. We are currently in the process of setting up an accessibility support desk and I’m excited to see where that will go once it’s out. I think it’s something that a lot of teams can really benefit from, especially those that do not have access to accessibility specialists in-house.
This is really the missing link for those teams, as it will enable us to provide them with unlimited support at an affordable cost. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I needed in my previous role, so I really can’t wait for us to launch it!
What are any significant milestones/highlights of your time in the accessibility sector so far?
A highlight for me has been to formalise Intopia’s test approach to carrying out accessibility audits. The goal was to take the combined knowledge of all of our experts and package it up into a well-documented, repeatable set of test processes and resources.
So far, I’ve had some great feedback on the work that was produced and the level of depth that it provides. The process itself doubled up as an excellent opportunity to spend time digging into WCAG and allowed me to draw on the collective experience of our group and learn from them.
What do you see as a high priority for creating a world without digital barriers?
I feel like there needs to be a greater level of quality control over the platforms and tools that are being used to build the web.
There are so many great products out there that provide attractive shortcuts to setting up all kinds of websites and online stores. Unfortunately, when you start to dig into them very few provide a decent level of accessibility out of the box.
It’s frustrating that unless you’re prepared to build everything yourself from the ground up, you’re often forced to try and retro fit accessibility on to these products and inevitably will have to make a lot of compromises in the process.
What advice would you give to someone facing roadblocks implementing accessibility/digital inclusion in their work?
Try to find fails as early on in your process as possible. The cost of bugs found early in development is said to be around 30 times less than those found post release.
As a tester with a good level of knowledge in accessibility, it is entirely possible to check a design for accessibility issues before a developer has even started to implement it. Use the information gathered during design testing, to provide developers with accessibility requirements. You’ll go along way in reducing the number of issues found during the testing cycle post development.
Lastly, tell us one fun random fact about yourself.
Outside of Intopia, I love to work as an illustrator. I spend as much of my free time as possible working on illustration projects. I’ve had works featured in books, designed cover illustrations and created concept art and character designs for various indie film and game projects. All small stuff but lots of fun to work on!