Steve Sawczyn on Accessibility Advocacy

Vision Rehab Podcast logo closeup of an eyeThe Vision Rehab Podcast is a short monthly podcast about topics and issues related to vision rehabilitation therapists and vision rehab. You can also listen on your smart speaker, just ask for, “Vision Rehab Podcast.”

Listen Now to an Interview with Steve Sawczyn

Transcript:

Please note, this is an unusually long podcast for the Vision Rehab Podcast, and with good reason, Steve Sawczyn has some great advice for advocating for accessibility in the workplace and on websites. Check out the inspiration for this interview, the Degen Valley Podcast which included an interview with Steve Sawczyn, the much condensed written interview appearing in AFB AccessWorld, and of course, Steve’s blog, The Thoughts and Ramblings of Steve.

The following transcript was created with the Otter app:

Steve Kelley
And,  so you, you have this experience with target and with United Healthcare. So, I think I think that that’s a great place to start, like, how, how do you walk into an environment where people are? Like, like those folks at web three? They they I don’t know. When you, when you get over the shock, that this is this is something that they don’t know. What what’s what’s next? I mean, how do you how do you diplomatically introduce them to this and pull them along? How do you personally do it? What what, what strategy Have you developed?
Steve Sawczyn
Well, I think the, the important thing is to remember the fact that they are unaware or that they might be aware, but that it still might be very new. And just like, whenever you have something that is new to someone, or they may not be aware of it, you have to kind of meet them where they are, and talk about it in terms that they’ll be able to understand right now. And, Sarah, if you whip out your handy dandy guide of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines,  it’s just going to put them off further, because it’s technical and confusing, and it doesn’t really explain why accessibility matters, what it’s for. But if you are able to, through conversation, understand what they do know what they think they know, and what they don’t know. Because those really are three different things. Often people think that they know it, and don’t necessarily, but understanding that then it’s easy to have conversation around. You know, what, what is accessibility? What is? What does it look like? What does it do? What does it do for you? What does it do for them, right, and if they can see it as something that’s a mutually beneficial proposition, they’re more likely to want to learn more and understand more, you know, understanding that, like, oh, it’s not just about helping,  people with disabilities, we might benefit from this too. Because we might be able to sell a thing, or we might be able to innovate, or,  there might be some benefit to us as a company, in addition to being able to assist people with disabilities.
Steve Kelley
That was, that was one of the things that interested me a lot about your messaging, when you were talking to them. Because I guess because in some ways, I’m also involved in accessibility, or at least advocacy for I think, I’ll speak for myself, I kind of lose sight of where someone might be who  isn’t working with that on a regular basis, where it’s not something that’s talked about every day. And let me give you an example, when I was designing websites, and keep in mind, this was kind of late 90s, Flash was really big. And I had a client that saw a flash site with these buttons, and all of the stuff moving around, and she absolutely wanted flash on our website. And I said to her, Well, here’s the thing. Sure, you can put that on it, but it makes your website inaccessible to many people who might be using screen readers where the flash doesn’t work. And she very quickly said, Oh, well that doesn’t doesn’t really matter to me, because I don’t think a whole lot of my clients are going to be blind. And I really liked the way it looks. And, you know, this is trying to figure out a way to phrase this, but I think it comes up and I could be wrong. I think that there are a lot of people out there when you talk about inclusion for people who are blind in a wheelchair or you name the disability, okay. I think that that brings something negative to their perspective. And they think you know, I’m not sure that I want to appeal to that clientele. Okay. And I think that that’s just an ignorance that we find and have to deal with. And what I liked about your messaging was you were able to talk about, okay, so if you do this, for this group of people, it may start out that way, maybe it’s first somebody, you know, with a screen reader. But guess what, now the person who’s driving in the car, and maybe can’t reach their phone, they can get it or their kids are, you know, they’re trying to do something with their kids, and they’re multitasking. So all of a sudden, this is not something for that air, quote, alien person with a disability that you may or may not want as a client right? Now, it’s something that oh, we can all use this, you know, we, we can all use these ramps on the sidewalk, when we’re pushing a stroller or on a skateboard. And I, and I hope you pick up on this because I don’t mean to be be be be laboring this point myself, I want to hear what you have to say about it. But I think that the beautiful thing about that is putting it I think for the most part, unless you have a friend or you have a family member with a disability, you don’t know, you just don’t know. And I also think you probably may have a negative impression because your your lack of knowledge. And you know, I’m I’m trying to say that in a way where I’m not being judgmental to the person, it’s just that they don’t know, they don’t have an experience. And so you have to get outside of that context. And you have to put it into something that they understand like, Oh, now your kids can ride their skateboards up and down this this ramp on the sidewalk, or, you know, and like you said, you know, now you’d be able to use your phone with a voice command, and you couldn’t do it before. So Steve, did you show up at Target with that? Or did you have to learn that the hard way? Or how did you come to that? You just said it so naturally in that interview?
Steve Sawczyn
I think it’s it’s you, you do learn it? And I think I, you know, I would love to say I showed up with that. But I think I learned it, because what I found was people shut down. People didn’t want to listen to me. And you know, eventually you got to ask yourself, why is it me? Like she five people don’t want to listen? You know, I’m a pretty nice guy. And I, you know, like, Why? Why are people not wanting to listen to this? And then I thought, well, maybe I’m just too close to the problem, you know, I’m the problem. And, and so I’m seeing it a lot more close up, because I see the impact of it. And the people I’m talking to don’t. And so I went through those things. And I thought, gosh, you know, I can’t do anything about the second one, like, I mean, I can try to be objective. And certainly I tried to, like, what, what can I do? And then I thought maybe, what if it’s not one of those three things, you know, what if it’s, what if it’s not that they that I’m too close, you know, that I’m really the problem or that, you know, they just don’t like me or my message? You know, personally, what if there’s another reason why people are shutting down? And I started to think, you know, what could that possibly be? And I thought, you know, I wonder if people are understanding what it is I’m talking about in the first place, and what the impact of that is. And I didn’t know if that was, you know, if I was on the right track, or whatever, but it seemed like a better track to be on them. You know, people just don’t like me or don’t care attract. So I thought, well, let me see where this goes. And so I started asking, you know, what do you what do you think of when you when we’re talking about accessibility? And like what comes to mind? And I started getting feedback, like, you know, well, it’s about, you know, avoiding a lawsuit. Well, it’s about helping people with disabilities, but we really don’t know how many people those are. So, you know, it’s a small group, you know, we don’t really know if we have any, and I thought, well, you know, it’s feedback that helped me to see that, you know, maybe they aren’t aware of what I’m talking about or the importance of it. I mean, they’re not entirely wrong. Right, but like they that isn’t the full picture. Maybe if I can fill in the rest of that picture. For them, it’ll be a more attractive picture versus a very narrow, we’re just trying to avoid a lawsuit. Sure, that’s a good reason to do it. But it’s not the only reason to do it. And so if I can shift the thinking from there and recognize that that’s where they are good, bad or indifferent. It’s a place to start that conversation instead of me just sort of speaking at them and not risk
Steve Kelley
for you made you clearly made a conscious effort based on kidding, you know, kind of bounced around a little bit at first on, on and trying to develop some salesmanship. In terms of Okay, so, what’s in this for you, as opposed to, you know, avoiding a lawsuit? Yes, that’s, that’s great. But it’s a negative. You know what I mean? That’s, that’s, that’s a negative, and who gets real motivated by that negative, they’re gonna get more motivated by something positive, like, Okay, you’re gonna sell more of your widgets?
Steve Sawczyn
Well, I had a lot of time for self reflection. You know, and I really wanted this to be successful. At the time. I mean, I still obviously do, but like, at the time I was, this was a new thing. And I really, really wanted it to work. And so I spent a lot of time being sort of introspective and trying to think of, you know, what, what am I doing wrong? And then I realized, maybe it’s not me doing something wrong, maybe it’s, it’s just that I’m doing something right, but at the wrong time, or to the wrong people. And they, it made me feel less sad. It’s easy to go down that path and be like, I’ve just terrible communicator, people don’t like me. You know, and I thought, well, that that could be true. But rather than go down that deep, dark path, let’s think about this a different way, maybe I’m talking to their own people, or maybe I’m saying things in a way they don’t understand. And so I started looking at that. And it’s that awareness piece of like, it was like a light turned on. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, you know, just because I’m passionate about this, and doesn’t mean everyone else is and other people or, you know, have priorities that may not have anything to do with accessibility. And then there are people who just don’t understand or have a very skewed understanding of what that is. And maybe if we start there, it’ll, it’ll be easier. And I’ve always found that if people understand what it is that accessibility means. And that does mean different things to different people or different roles. If they can understand it, which might mean seeing it in action, it might mean reading about it, it might mean different things. But once they get it, then it’s much easier for them to make that that leap becomes more of a jump becomes more of a step to, hey, I got this, I can do something about this. And I want to do something about this. It’s now much, much easier to get there. Once I have that understanding,
Steve Kelley
did you did you have like a specific sort of an aha moment where you were kind of fishing around trying to figure out okay, so how am I going to get these people engaged in this? And all of a sudden, you started noticing, oh, somehow or another I’ve gotten them a little bit more engaged. Let me work a little bit more on this angle. Did you ever have that moment? And what was the angle that that that seemed to be effective?
Steve Sawczyn
For mean, for people really understanding
Steve Kelley
Yeah, for and I’m thinking about that corporate. And I guess I’m just you know, I’m just imagining in my head, this may never have happened, but I’m imagining that corporate curmudgeon, who Okay, so we’re trying to avoid a lawsuit here. That’s why you’re here, Steve. And this accessibility thing is a real pain in the ass for me because it could mean that I’ve got a very expensive lawsuit on my hand. And, you know, what are we talking here? 5% 7% 2% And I’m not even sure I want these blind folks, you know, as customers because they’re, they’re trying to sue me. So you know, you’ve got that serious crime Imagine, and you know, did you ever find yourself in a place where you’re dealing with with that kind of an individual and that sort of an outlook, and actually were able to, you know, to turn that person around a little bit to say, you know, hey, this is a lot more than 5%. And this is something that could be used in other ways for some of your customers without blindness or without, you know, deafness, or you name the disability. You know, did you ever find like, I don’t know how to have a moment where, you know, somebody like that was you were able to turn them around? Or at least get them to look at it in a different way?
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, I, you know, it’s, it’s the first first thing is to, to really understand that a person may be honest about where they’re coming from, and come off in a way that’s not very positive. So you know, I occasionally, talk to people that were like, well, you know, I, I’m interested in accessibility, if you can show me how that equates to more revenue. And I thought, wow, that that person is a real jerk, you know, they don’t care about people with disabilities, because they only care about revenue. Well, the thing is, you know, for some executives, their, their success is tied to revenue goals, their, you know, if they don’t hit certain revenue goals for division, or department, or whatever it is, they’re gone, you know, and so, that has to be their main focus, because if it doesn’t increase the revenue, it doesn’t equate to success on a performance standard for them. And once I realized that, because, you know, I’ve, I’ve never been in a position where, you know, the revenue of a company really impacted me, very directly, like, you know, we didn’t make as much money, so you’re gone kind of situation. But that’s, that’s where a lot of, you know, executive vice presidents and senior vice presidents are, you know, if they don’t get an ROI of a certain percentage, or margin, or whatever it is, you know, they can be replaced with someone who can. And so, once I understood that, I started to realize, Wow, maybe maybe these people aren’t being jerks, maybe they’re being honest. And coming from a place that reflects what for them has to be their priority. I guess another example would be if someone is like, Well, gosh, you know, we have to do this to avoid a lawsuit. Well, if, if you, if that person is a lawyer, right, they might have a tendency to think that way, because that’s probably the world they’re in. And especially in a corporate environment, that might be their whole job is trying to protect the company from taking any sort of action or making decisions that you know, would would increase risk of, of a lawsuit. So again, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re anti people with disabilities or anti accessibility at all. It might just be an honest reflection of what they do, where they are, and what they know. And once I understood that, and remember to always be the blue a few times before jumping to any judgments, what I found is, you know, for the most part, people aren’t jerks. People aren’t against accessibility. But people do have to wrestle with other real priorities, whether that’s budget, whether that’s revenue, whether that’s time, whether that’s, you know, someone else’s thing that, you know, business needs something other delivered and whatever. You know, there are other priorities sometimes that people have to deal with, and they need to understand how accessibility can support those priorities and not be a conflict with those priorities or not cause friction with them reaching those priorities and understanding that then makes it easier to have the conversation if your concern is, gosh, I’m worried about risk, legal risk. You know, let’s talk about it from that perspective. Right. But if your concern is, gosh, I’m worried about this is going to cause a huge delay and I need to deliver this, this new thing that we’re building in three months. I’m on a really tight timeline. Well Maybe we approach that conversation not from the perspective of risk, because you know, you don’t care about that as much as you don’t want him to slow down and cause friction through your timeline. So maybe we have that that conversation around, hey, let’s, let’s talk about how we can do accessibility in a way that doesn’t put your timeline in jeopardy. Let’s figure out how we can do this as part of what you’re doing, versus some extra thing that you have to panic about, you know, at the end of the process. And if they come away with it, oh, you’ve been doing this, and I can still hit my three months deadline that I’m under? Well, heck, yeah, I’m all about it, then. You know, as long as as long as that issue is resolved, at least, you know, initially. And they don’t view it as a threat to that. All of a sudden, the walls just come down. But you have to be able to step back and be vulnerable, I guess. And except that people are going to not be all jazzed up about this, but possibly for reasons that may not be so obvious. And in what may seem like the obvious, you know, reason we just don’t want to do it may not come into play at all.
Steve Kelley
So one of the interesting things I think I hear you saying is, yes. Okay, so step one is awareness and awareness of what accessibility is about. But part of that awareness is being aware of what the decision makers priorities are what, you know, what makes their world and not be, you know, necessarily looking at them as opposed to accessibility, but recognizing that it is one of many, many priorities that they have, and how can, you know, you help frame this in a way that that that that makes it something that’s going to fit in with their other priorities? So that, you know that that’s a very interesting to me. You know, that’s a very interesting part of awareness. I think, because it’s so easy to think, oh, you know, just being aware of the accessibility and save the needs of people who are using your product? Oh, no, there’s, there’s an awareness that that you as the accessibility advocate, need to show up with? And that’s like this active listening component of, well, what’s important to you? You know, and how can we make access accessibility part of what’s important to you, or at least show you how it’s going to help you get what it is you want?
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, and with decision makers, it’s very important, but also even peers or colleagues, or whatever it might be, it could be that a decision maker says, Oh, yes, we’re gonna do accessibility, that’s our thing, we’re gonna do it. And you’re working with a developer or designer who says, gosh, I, you know, I don’t know what I’m doing. I, this is all new to me, or, you know, they may have the same concerns, but on a much smaller level designers sometimes says, you know, gosh, I’ve got to deliver this design, but by next week, it’s already Wednesday. You know, I don’t have time to have accessibility look at this design, I gotta get it done. Or developer says, geez, you know, I would love to make this accessible. But I don’t understand REO yet. Because I’ve never learned it, you know, and, you know, having that conversation and understanding, okay, this person isn’t saying no, but they’re already working at full capacity. And they don’t have time to read a book about ARIA, you know, how do we how do we help them to understand or coach them in a way that, you know, doesn’t require them to stay on the product? You know, where am I going to find time to learn all this stuff, and still recognize that, you know, they have a real concern. And the only way this is going to work for them is if we are able to help them overcome that concern and show that accessibility can be supportive and not obstructive. And so I just tried to apply that with with anyone I learned it with decision makers, because they’re quick to say no, but I found that it really is applicable to project managers, to developers, to designers to just about anyone that I’ve ever worked with that, you know, isn’t me that may be coming from a different perspective than where I’m coming from and also sometimes helping then helping done. I guess also, understanding their perspective can help to shape up my own perspective, maybe I’m not seeing something, you know, maybe there’s some bigger piece of I, one time had this big argument, we went back and forth with this one decision maker about this accessibility, yes, we should do this yes, we have to do is blah, blah, blah. No, we don’t, I don’t want to, it’s gonna be too expensive. It’s ridiculous. Back and forth, back and forth. You know, there’s legal risk. You know, they countered with, well, you know, it’s too much resources, you know, for this timeline, bla bla bla bla bla, back and forth. And then finally, they said, Well, I don’t know why we have to do it, where we’re getting rid of this functionality in two months? Well, if I’d known that upfront, you know, we wouldn’t have had any this discussion, I would have been like, Fine, let’s get rid of it, and make sure whatever we replaced this with is going to be accessible, they had switched to a different thing. And I was like, you know, we had all this conflict for this thing that, you know, knowing that I’m thinking, Well, God, is she thinking I want them to make this whole thing accessible in two months, and spend a ton of money on something they discontinuing? And which was absolutely unbelievable. And I said, Well, you know, I, I told the person has, if I’d known that we wouldn’t have had this discussion. And she goes, Well, I thought you didn’t know that. And you’re still pushing for this to get done within the two months timeline before we got rid of this thing. And so from, you know, obviously, no, not in her head. But from her perspective, if I were her, I would think that accessibility guys, you know, really push pushing you jerk, you know, like, we’re getting rid of this thing. Why does Why does he? Why does that Steve guy want us to spend all this money on this technology, or this thing we’re getting rid of in two months? And, you know, that’s just dumb. Again, assuming that I knew what the plan was, which I didn’t didn’t she was very apologetic. Oh, I thought you knew, or had seen this roadmap that we have? And said, No, I’m not on that meeting. So I did not know that we were getting rid of this theme in three months. You know, we walked away very happy, I realized, gosh, I you know, she’s not anti accessibility. She just doesn’t want to waste money. And she walked away with Gosh, and to make sure we include accessibility earlier on and make sure that they do get these roadmaps so that they, you know, can be more tactical in what they’re doing versus trying to solve problems, that may not be problems. So we wound up being a win win for both, but just understanding, you know, the other perspective shakes my own perspective,
Steve Kelley
bullet point three on awareness is that communication piece, I think, in terms of, you know, making sure that, that we’re talking to the same same language, or that, you know, we we both are looking at the same project, or facts or dimensions or whatever. And I, I’m gonna guess that that often is not the case. You know, you walk in as a strong advocate for this, and the other person walks in for the strong advocate of ROI. And you know, and you kind of miss each other a little bit because of the communication, no one’s at fault, but it’s just like, your priorities are different. So, you, you kind of reminded me of like, the second thing that I think you’ve you’ve probably bumped up to, against a million times. And, you know, I’ve heard this and it infuriates me. And that’s just my, my initial reaction. Oh, it’s going to cost too much. And it’s going to cost too much, I think, because, alright, nobody thought about it from the beginning. So you designed it less inclusively? Because nobody knew about it. And now to add it on, it’s going to be a bolt on. And yeah, it’s going to take a lot of time and cost some money. It should have been done at the outset. But it wasn’t. What do you do? How do you? How do you have that that conversation? Where, and maybe this is what you encountered at Target, I’m not sure. But when you walk into the project midway through at the end, after it’s been all done or whatever, and you you realize, yeah, it’s going to be a really expensive fix. But it didn’t have to be accessibility doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is when we’re this far along, and it hasn’t been considered. Where do you go? What’s your what is your next step?
Steve Sawczyn
Well, I think, you know, it’s, you have to be very careful because it’s very easy, depending on prior conversations that may have been had to really want to be like, you know, told you know, skills I’ve told you so you know, like, cost you a ton of money, right?
Steve Kelley
running through your head? Absolutely. did not come out of your mouth.
Steve Sawczyn
Oh, it’s tough, it is a real tough thing. Because yeah, and you want to be like, Yeah, this is this is, you know, I’ve been preaching this thing for six months, and you do want to listen, and now it’s gonna cost you a lot of money, or you can’t release on time, and I told you, this is gonna happen, and, and now I don’t care anymore. You know, and, but the thing is, that does no good, it’s just going to make the person an enemy. And no matter what happens, you are where you are, right? I think that’s the first thing is to want a deep breathing, you know, but just accept, like, wherever we are. And this needs to be a learning type of opportunity where we can say something like, Well, you know, let’s figure out how to make a plan to move forward from here. You know, let’s figure out a timeline and some concrete actionable steps that can be taken to move us from where we are, and in parentheses, where we should never have to, you know, where we want to be if you have listened to me. Because if you, if you are able to not say the things you want to say, suddenly become an ally, because the person’s like, okay, they’re gonna help me get there. And yeah, you could point out that this wouldn’t have been a problem, but they’re going to know that, right? Like people, generally, when they mess up, and they realize they’ve messed up, they already know what they did, or didn’t do. You know, if you beat them over the head with it, it’s just gonna make them more defensive. So what I have found is, if you can help them to get where they need to be, then you’re being supportive and helpful, versus again, being sort of this person who’s punishing them for a mistake, they probably themselves wish they had never made in the first place. The other part is to try to enlist them as an ally, you know, gosh, you know, when all is said and done. That was that was really tough these last few months, as we had to get on course, you know, Can you can you help to, whenever you talk with your peers, you know, let’s, let’s raise awareness around this, you can let them know your experience of this, because, you know, I can talk about it until, you know, next Sunday, but you’re the one who just went through this, and your peers are gonna listen to you before they listen to me. So, you know, when you’re talking with your peers, you know, maybe raise the situation, otherwise, it’s going to it’s going to happen again, and again and again, with different people. And people have been very willing to do that, because they can frame it up in a in a very positive way. You know, I heard I had one person who was totally didn’t listen to what I said, and did their own thing. And everything went off track, just like I said, and it cost a lot of money. And he turned it into an opportunity. He called it a learning opportunity and had this whole PowerPoint deck on lessons learned, and held, like accessibility Discovery sessions as if he had done this major thing. And he was now presenting it as here’s how you could save money to other people. Wow. I mean, you’re the only person who lost money and is posing it to other people as I did this, or you don’t have to, and but, you know, if it works, if people listen to that, that’s fine. Because they’re there. They were, my thinking was, they were probably more apt to listen to, to him, you know, than me, and pulled it off. He had, like regular sessions with teams, these Discovery sessions, and, you know, let’s look at what you’re doing and make sure that you don’t whatever it was, like, wow, this guy became this, like. I mean, people were saying, you know, people were coming to me that had listened to him and said, Oh, you know, we’re hearing about ways we can avoid, you know, spending a lot of extra money and going oh, Over our project budgets, you know, we’d love to talk to you more about that. All right, we can have the conversation as a, like budget, sort of, we don’t want to go over budget conversation. If that’s better than let’s do accessibility earlier, we can call it a different thing. That’s fine. What a long view,
Steve Kelley
that’s, well, you know, I can see where like, the knee jerk reaction to something like that might be different. But I think it’s, I don’t know, it’s a, it’s kind of ingenious, that, that you were able to sit back and recognize, oh, this person who was not originally an ally, like it or not, is now selling my message in a different way. And it doesn’t matter how it gets sold, or who’s selling it, or whether my message got trampled in the process, we’re getting to the same place. There are a lot of people, I think that, you know, would have a difficult time with that. So that’s the, you know, that’s a long view. It’s, it sounds like you’re able to take, which is it, it’s it’s going to get it accomplished, I guess, is what I’m saying.
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, I think you’re right. I think, you know, people have to, you have to be willing to be very flexible. And, you know, honestly, you can’t. And this, you know, it’s very tough. faced, it was challenging for me, you can’t let ego get in the way. You know, you you can say things like, you know, like I said earlier, you know, I was right, you were wrong, I knew this is gonna happen, but it’s not gonna get you anywhere. And you can do all these things that if you let other people have the wind, sometimes you get a lot more traction. I, you know, when when the guy turned what I viewed as a very negative situation into a positive one for himself. I was angry, because I’m like, you know, why doesn’t he like, just tell people to talk to me or whatever, right. Like, he’s now trying to take credit for something that I’ve, you know, yeah, I was really frustrated. And then I thought, you know, what, that people are coming to me now that weren’t in before? Is it really a bad thing? I mean, I’m accomplishing my goal of people are talking to me. And they weren’t as much before. So am I winning here? Or am I not? And I thought, well, you know, my, my ego wants them to talk to me, I should be the one getting this credit. I didn’t want to get the work. I’m the one who saw the problem. I’m the one who did. Well, yeah, but what good is that the important thing is other people are now proactively coming to me versus me, having more TOLD YOU SO moments. So it’s, it’s hard to not be angry, it really is. But if you can get past that. It’s, it’s beneficial. And, you know, it, it winds up being a more successful approach. It’s this, you know, I I was talking to someone else who had an idea, and you know, someone had just sort of taken their idea and use it as their own. And I said, you know, that is super frustrating, and whatever. And I said, But you know, sometimes if you give someone an idea, and they run with it, and then you can say, hey, what a great idea you had, they’re going to feel awesome. And you’re getting what you wanted, is just you have to sometimes be okay with it being your idea. And I said, you know, if are you going to make money from this idea? Like, is this idea gonna get you a promotion? Are you just hung up on the fact that it really was your idea, someone else is taking credit for it, they’re gonna look good, and you’re not? Like, how does this other than, you know, ego? How does this impact you, you know, it’s not like they got a patent on your idea, or they are getting a raise on your idea. You had an idea that ran with it. It’s, you know, something they shouldn’t have done, but ultimately, you’re getting what you want it and so, other than a little bit of a bruised ego, is there really any drawback to this? And often, if you think about it, there generally isn’t, you know, unless it’s tied to some, you know, someone took the idea and got a promotion out of it or whatever. That’s, you know, the obvious Eric assumptions. But you know, for the most part, if you suggest something, and sometimes you suggest it four or five times, and then someone else is like, hey, let’s do this thing. And it’s like, yeah, the thing I’ve been suggesting five times, you know, it’s like, yeah, you could dig your heels in, but just go along, hey, what a great idea that is, you know, and then they’re gonna love you, because they’re going to be like, Oh, my God, this person supports me.
Steve Kelley
It’s a totally, totally, but I think it’s a, you know, it’s real human nature thing to dig your heels in at that point, and go, Hey, wow, it was my idea.
Steve Sawczyn
It took me a very long time to learn that I’d love to say I learned that from day one. And it did, I didn’t and what what I found, again, was introspection of, you know, why is this not working for me? And a lot of it was because I was frustrating people, I would say, you know, dig my heels in, I would want to be right. I would be more important, I want them to be wrong. And, you know, I felt I had put a lot of work in and I had that right. And, you know, maybe I did on some level, but what it did was it made people view me as confrontational as conch or directory. Yes. You know, when I was trying to be pragmatic, but viewed as a contrary, and it’s because people associated me with, you know, he’s just going to make this difficult is going to, it’s going to be a pain in the ass. So would love to not listen to him, you know, let’s listen to him, and then just forget whatever he says. And I realize, you know, maybe, maybe it’s because I’m spending so much time trying to be right, and not as much time trying to move forward. You know, maybe I ought to think about why this is, and I kind of realized, geez, you know, it’s, it’s my own ego getting in the way. And, you know, I wish I had learned it earlier. But it took a long time. And it took a lot of people being mad at me to finally, realize that, you know, maybe it’s not everybody else, maybe it really is me, you know,
Steve Kelley
particularly difficult Self Realization. You know, I can see myself and a lot of what you’re describing, and I think it’s that that sort of recognition, or awareness can be particularly challenging. And I guess that that, that goes under the category two of awareness when it comes to having a conversation about this kind of thing, you know, recognizing that you can be more welcoming to the process of moving forward, as opposed to being the one who is right. And in the situation. So on, like, on a little bit more of a technical note. If you, if somebody came to you like, whether it was a project designer or a new developer, maybe maybe they did have a notion of accessibility, and it sounds like one of your first things might be to school them just a little bit on awareness. What, what, like three or four documents or websites or what could you? What am I trying to say here? I think I think for some people, for the most part, are probably not going to just dive right in and embrace accessibility because they have other priorities right? But what we’re what resources might use direct them to, to say, hey, here are a couple of starting points that you know, you could quickly you know, digest it will give you a better idea of what we’re talking about here and what might make your project a little bit more accessible.
Steve Sawczyn
I think there’s a couple of things so there’s web ame web.org like to double check to make sure my work there.com I think there and pack. Web Accessibility in Mind, Robin is webaim.org They have a ton of resources on their site. And those are free resources and you can’t be free. The other place that I like is dq University D, qu e university.com. And they have they have some free information, a lot of paid information, but it’s not super expensive. And it’s very detailed information. And what’s interesting about dq, DQ EU is that they have things in sort of a curriculum type format. So for example, they had a document accessibility curriculum, they have a question, I remember the exact names of these, but they have like a developer curriculum for developers, they have a curriculum for for different roles, basically, right, so that if you are someone who is a decision maker, or other than a person dealing with risk, you don’t really care about ARIA, or you know how to do accessible JavaScript, like none of that stuff matters to you. And if you’re a developer, who in fact, is dealing with RM JavaScript and different frameworks and things like that, a, you know, you might care a little bit about risk, but it’s not your thing, it’s just going to be extra reading to have to go through. So the way they’ve kind of divided the courses into different curricula, it makes it a lot easier to figure out, okay, this is my role, this is what I need to know from for my role. And that makes it really relevant. So I really love DQ university.com. And then the W three C. Well, I don’t know that I would put that on my top. Well, the W three C does have the v3, C is the World Wide Web Consortium. And the is a great resource, there’s lots of information on the W three C, that’s where you can find the WCAG guidelines that drafts all of the everything you ever wanted to know, there’s examples of different things, there’s a lot of stuff. And the problem with that is that there’s a lot of stuff, and a lot of it is technical. And a lot of it can be overwhelming. So I would definitely have that on the list. But it probably wouldn’t be one of the first places I would go because I’ve had developers that have started there, come back and be like, Okay, I, I see this huge wall of stuff. And I don’t know where I have to start. And if I point them to webbing first or dq, or any of the other accessibility vendors, most of them have blogs and, and various resources available. It makes it a little bit clearer. For example, webbing has a whole thing about forms and form creation. And so if you’re building a form, which was started there, it’s very easy, because you can go through it, you see examples and action. And while all of that stuff is on the W three sites, you have to kind of jump all over the place to find it, because it depends what you’re doing with your form and what we’re talking about with the form and which thing you’re using to make your form. And you can you can find everything but it’s not easy to find anything. And so well, I say it that way. But it’s not easy to find things unless you frequently are on that site looking for things because you care about technical standards and that sort of stuff. If you are then it probably makes a lot of sense. But for the rest of us that are just getting started. It’s a tough place to start because it is so complex. There’s so much information once you kind of understand what you’re looking for though, it’s a great place to go because then you kind of know what you’re looking for. It’s easy to find stuff when you know what it is you’re looking for. It’s much harder when you don’t really know what you’re looking for. And you’re kind of like maybe this is a I don’t know that that’s when I think that W three C site becomes a resource versus a scary piece of information.
Steve Kelley
I have found that website overwhelming when I’ve gone so yeah, and you use that adjective too, so I feel I feel much better. And you’re right when I’ve gone to WebAIM that one makes a little bit more sense. DQ University sounds like it would be awesome too, because it would be a little bit more tailored to We’re not what it is that might be most important for me in whatever capacity I was in. Are, is there any place else that you would direct someone, although you did mention, like any of the other accessibility vendors may have, like some information that, you know, could be free or, you know, a modest cost that might be helpful.
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, there’s, as all the other vendors that T PGI level access. Does does have blogs and information. And then there are people that tend to be somewhat prominent in the community that blog relatively frequently on on various topics that they’re you’re passionate about, or that they’re studying or working in. You know, there’s, there’s lots of different blogs, it’s oftentimes challenging to go, you know, to find information in a blog forum, because it’s like, gosh, is this real or not, but a lot of the names sort of drift to the top of the list, and you see them over and over again, and you might see them at different workshops. There are a number of workshops and webinars and things like that, that happened throughout the year. And sometimes you’ll see these same names as presenters. And you’ll, you’ll start to know, and like, oh, this, this is the person that always is talking about this subject. And they obviously know their stuff, because they’ve presented it three times this year at different workshops. Maybe their blog is credible. You know, and so not the only way to judge a blog, but some of the conferences that exist are also great resources. X con is a open free conference that DQ hosts. But there’s different tracks. And it’s everything is recorded, so you can listen to it later. And there’s tracks for designers for developers for I don’t remember them all. But there’s different tracks for you as a regular online workshop type thing, a lot of information there from a lot of different presenters, I love it. Because often people are talking about what it is they that they’re doing. There was some great information in the that I got from this years X con. You know, I’m always learning and it’s always great to kind of know what other people are up to what’s working for them, what’s not working for them, sometimes I get an idea. And sometimes I get confirmation, okay, maybe I am on track, or maybe I’m really on the wrong track because no one else is complaining about this. See, son is another conference that takes place annually, it’s the largest Assistive Technology Conference in the world. A lot of information comes out around CSUN. The conference itself costs money to attend. But a lot of the information is often made available after the conference, or if you look at the agenda for the conference, you can figure out who’s who’s presenting or on which topics they’re presenting, and oftentimes, can can find information. So the conferences are also a great wealth of information, because people love to present about what they’re what they’re working on.
Steve Kelley
So, um, so as a newbie, is there a blog or a podcast? And I realized that, you know, it’s going to be different for developer, you know, whatever the role is, but is there a blog or a podcast that that is at the top of your list? Like, oh, yeah, this would be this is a good place to get your feet wet, and to kind of get a better understanding of what’s going on in the accessibility world.
Steve Sawczyn
I don’t know, there’s there’s a lot of good ones, but a lot of them are focused on one thing or another. And so finding sort of an overview is one is challenging,
Steve Kelley
general general question. And I recognize that kind of along the same lines. So, you know, I have something to do with a website that’s been around for a while. And I’ve learned about this accessibility thing. We’re not getting a lawsuit against us, but all of a sudden they realize, oh, you know, maybe maybe we’re at risk or maybe, maybe I realize we’ve never considered This and, you know, I want to take a look at it, I don’t have a huge budget, I guess my question to you is, what are some of the, the, the the big things that you’ve seen, that are relatively fixable at, you know, at kind of a basic level, what could I do? Quickly? And I guess, air quotes there, like, what could I do quickly to make my site more accessible? And again, I realize it’s a real general question. But, you know, if you were to create like a bullet list of maybe two or three things that I could just quickly take a look at and try to address, what would those top two or three things be without, like, Oh, God, you’ve got to redo your whole website and have a consultant come in, and blah, blah, blah.
Steve Sawczyn
Think I think there are a few things everyone can do. And one of them that’s super easy, at least until you do it is try to navigate your website, just using your keyboard, don’t use your mouse, just push it off to the side, use your tab key and your arrow keys to move around your tab key should move you from from one link or form field to another. And if you have like radio buttons, your arrow keys should move between them and your checkboxes or buttons or spacebar should activate them. So you know very basic keyboard types of things. But But what you’re trying to do is, Can I use my site without using my mouse tempting though it may be to pick up my mouse was that experience like if I cannot use my mouse because you’re simulating a bunch of disabilities when doing that not just screenreader users, but people who have limited motion or who might be using technologies that emulate a keyboard. So they may not even be using a keyboard, but they may be using technologies that emulate keyboard functionality. And going through will help, you need to understand Wow, I’ve got this amazing menu that shows up when you hover a mouse over it. But if you can’t hover the mouse over this, you can’t make this menu show up or this little tooltip thing that is important. So we really should fix that. Because if you can’t do it with your keyboard, someone else can’t do it with errors either. And so doing a keyboard test is, is I think a great place to start. The other thing you can do is that there are tools that are browser based tools that are free, that you can download their extensions or plugins, and you can run them and they will give you information on or errors that exist on your website. I have a couple of favorites that are free. And there are differences between them. But if you’re just getting started, honestly, you could debate which one is best long into the night. What I tell people is just start with whatever one you like. Because if you’re starting with something, you’re doing more than nothing. And so if you try any of these and you think oh gosh, this doesn’t work or it’s too complicated, or it’s too overwhelming, or, or the opposite, often happens when I try this and it doesn’t give me the information I need. And I don’t know how to fix it. And I need to know exactly what the source code of this issue is. Because I’m a developer and bla bla bla, try one or the other of these tools, but the tools I’d recommend are x, which is open source, it’s made by DEQ. But it’s also found in a number of other products. It’s a browser plugin works with the inspector of a browser, so especially to the developer, it’s gonna live in a place you frequently are anyway. The other tool that I really like, is Microsoft makes one called Accessibility insights. And accessibility Insights is great because it’s free. It’s made by Microsoft, it’s open source. It does. It has a an interface that might be a little more challenging for developers, but might be a little easier for the rest of us. There’s ways to highlight stuff, if you want to kind of see like, gosh, what is it talking about? And the other thing that accessibility insights does is it has a function where it will guide you through conducting additional manual tests if you want to do that. Automation, you can’t test all accessibility with automation. You can test maybe 30% or so ish of accessibility with automation. But true accessibility requires a lot of manual testing. Screen meters and that sort of stuff. But if you have accessibility insights, that will walk you through how to conduct a lot of that testing for free. And so it’s, it’s fantastic. There’s also a lot of tools within it to do things like, if you want to see your document structure and have an idea of, of what your headings are how the keyboard navigation works, you can enable these controls that visually kind of help you to understand that on the page, which is, which is really neat. So a lot of accessibility insights. And then the other tool that I really like is wave by red wave has been around for quite a while. And I’m glad that it has been, it’s free. And what’s nice about it is it overlays the page with different errors, or different icons that represent like this is a warning, this is an error. This is good, right? So you can see based on these icons, and they’re all accessible, by the way, which is kind of neat, too. But you can get an idea based on these icons, and messaging that kind of shows up as an overlay on the page. You know what’s going on or what’s not working well. It again, is easy to understand may give you too much info website may give you not enough information, if you’re if you’re a developer, and you’d like to work in the inspector and whatever. You know, ways may not be your best thing. But if you’re just writing content or something and you want to have a quick idea of like, gosh, does this page have any like really major issues on it, it’s something you can use really quickly to check. Check the page. The other thing is, if you this is not exactly, page, but I’ve actually run into this a lot more. If you use Microsoft Office to write documents or compose emails, or if you do anything with Microsoft Office, there’s an accessibility checker right in Microsoft Office. In all of the apps, the PowerPoint, Word, Outlook. Notice, they just I don’t I assume Excel has one. But I don’t know that I’ve actually looked for that. But definitely PowerPoint word and outlook. And basically, it will check whatever it is you’re working on. And if it finds things that can use some improvement, again, it won’t catch every possibility issue, but it will catch a lot of them. And what’s nice is that it will walk you through how to fix it. So it’s the type of thing that you can run this right in the ribbon. And you could run it like just before you send that email or just before you send that PowerPoint off or whatever, and it will help to identify issues that you could fix easily. That might make a world of difference to who you know, whomever you’re sending that to, you know, and, and they will walk you through step by step how to actually fix the issues. So it doesn’t, you know, assume that you’re like a PowerPoint wizard and understand exactly where everything is, in in PowerPoint will sort of walk you through it. So I, I use that myself, because sometimes I will inadvertently create an accessibility issue, you know, I don’t realize it moving quickly and trying to get this document written or whatever, and I do something and I don’t think it’s a problem. And then the accessibility checker will say, wait a minute, you didn’t do this. And what’s great is it’ll, it’ll help me do it. Because sometimes it’s some obscure thing. And, you know, wherever the Office apps that I just kind of, you know, I’ve never used it before. So I have no idea. You know how to,
Steve Kelley
really usable for the newbie?
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, I’ve everyone I’ve shown that to loves it. Because it’s, it’s, you know, you don’t have to install it, you don’t have to do anything, it’s right in the ribbon, it senses your family, you just have to know that it’s there. And you know, you can it’s just, you know, it doesn’t take a long time to run because it doesn’t find you know, the issues that it finds or issues that generally are pretty easy to fix. So it’s not something that will like, you know, add two hours of time required to finish your document. It’s the type of thing that you run it. And it will say, Hey, you have this image, and you didn’t put any descriptive alt text with this image. And you think, gosh, you know, I didn’t realize I needed to but yeah, I could write in a little description of this image and it says, Click here to do that. And then you type in, you know, boy playing soccer, whatever the picture is. And we’ll just add the alt to that image. And now you know, you’ve you’ve solved an accessibility issue and you’ve increased the experience for someone who may not be able to see that image and It took, you know, probably seconds to write, you know, boy playing soccer on the field or whatever that description was, you know, it’s just so it’s, it’s, it’s great and people that have used it love it because it’s just it’s right there. They don’t have to do a lot of extra stuff, or download and sale.
Steve Kelley
Yeah, those are some pretty cool resources. I’m I’m curious for the person who might be interested in jumping into the accessibility profession or field or CI, you know, I’d like to work in this field. This sounds interesting, what, you know, what is it that they’re looking for? I mean, is there are there? Is there a college major for this these days? Or is there a way that they could get their foot in the door? How is that done? I know you you did it in your own way, just by being real knowledgeable about computers and, and being a strong advocate. But how might a person you know go about getting into?
Steve Sawczyn
Sure, there’s a couple of great ways doing education resources, I mentioned, Tara great place to start. Especially DQ Yun has a bunch of like, beginner courses for lack of a term, I don’t remember what they call that curriculum, but like, you know, accessibility 101 or something like that. The other place to go is there is an organization called IAP. Which has certifications that you can get, they have a couple of different certifications available, they have the CP ACC. So these are issues you may come across, if you’re looking at like accessibility jobs and stuff like that the certified CPAs and certified practitioner, and accessibility, core competencies, and CPAs. And then they have the web accessibility specialist. And if you get both of them, then you can become a CWA which is a certified professional web. Certified Professional, graphic accessibility, I think is what that stands for. The nice thing about that is so these these certifications, you know, are I mean, some employers are looking for them. But I think they’re the true values and certifications is that it forces you to to learn to open your mind just definitely not have thought about. And you have to get continuing education credits to maintain this certification. There’s various activities you can do to do that. But you can’t just get like get the certificates and certifications and go home and don’t do anything else. From there. If you want to maintain them, you have to regularly learn and that might be reading, or it might be attending a conference or it might be whatever, you know, it doesn’t have to be an expensive thing. It’s not like you have to pay for courses to keep learning but you you have to at least spend time keeping current. And I think that’s really the value in the certifications. That said they have a book of knowledge on their site that has lots of information. For obtaining those certifications. DQ also has a course for pay course for getting them but you know, the book of knowledge is free. And it’s a great place to start if only because it’s going to give you a broad overview of a lot of stuff having to do with accessibility. I found it fascinating when I took the certification exams. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. And you know, I’d already been doing accessibility for quite a while. But there were aspects of accessibility that, you know, were were very new to me, or that I was aware of, but didn’t really understand the CPAC for example, talks about legislation in other countries. And you know, while I may not need to know what the law in Japan is, or what the EU requirements are, getting to learn a little bit about those things, helps me to understand the attitudes that other countries are taking toward accessibility and compare and contrast them with the attitude we take as a as a nation toward accessibility, or the motivating factors for the different models of disability. There are different models of disability such as the social model, the medical model, you know, there’s a bunch of them and understanding those models may not necessarily have Help me to design a better, more accessible website. But it will help me to understand where people might be coming from if they’re coming from different geographic regions, or if they’ve received disability related services. In a certain way, it might explain the type of services that they’ve received or not received, depending on the model that they’re that they’re in. Often that will translate to the attitude that they may have toward disability and understanding that certain countries sort of use different models for disability helps to also, you know, developers understanding that difference, might be might be very beneficial, right? Because they may be coming with a very different perspective
Steve Kelley
than actually sounds very different, different, you know, multi dimensional feature to it.
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, it’s, I was fascinated, I really, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I found myself really drawn in to a lot of aspects that, you know, again, I knew about to some degree, but not a lot, you know, and it was really interesting. There’s parts of that which talk about the demographics of disabilities, and the prevalence of prevalence of disabilities in different in different countries. And the reasons for that, right, sometimes in some countries, incidents may be high due to malnutrition or other reasons. And, you know, given that, what impact does that have socio economically for for people that have those disabilities, and just fascinating insight into, you know, this that can really shape our sights and be like, I never thought about.
Steve Kelley
Yeah, I mean, I think that we probably all approach it, you know, I guess there’s a cultural thing, but, you know, we all approach it from a more personal level, and kind of bringing in some of those other areas kind of gives you a different perspective, or a broader perspective, you know, on how other people are impacted. And you know, how, I don’t know how you can contribute a little bit more to their experience? Or, you know, where, where the two have similarities, that sort of thing. Steve, what is the best contact info for you something that you’re okay with me putting in an access world?
Steve Sawczyn
I would say, email students awesome.com, or the steam start life,
Steve Kelley
Steve’s dot life. Okay. And the last thing I wanted to ask you, you touched on this before, but I thought it was really impactful. You were talking about how you, and I’m assuming this was what got you to United Health, but you left but you you were talking about your own experience, I think at some point, dealing with family health, and trying to find information, or trying to get, you know, documentation, or websites or wherever, you have to get health help for your daughter. And it sounded like you got to a point where I think I thought I heard you say, I don’t want this to happen to somebody else, or I want to make a positive impact on this. So it’s better for the next person.
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, I think, you know, I actually started a blog post about this, and then I didn’t publish it yet, because I read it back. And I thought, God, this is so depressing. And then I thought, maybe I ought to publish it anyway. And I have a
Steve Kelley
personal, you know, and and, and again, I’m assuming that, you know, you would only give me information that you were you were comfortable with me, you know?
Steve Sawczyn
Yeah, yeah. No, it is it isn’t work that when I was going to publish is, you know, we, a lot of times I hear comments like, oh, you know, you should submit a feedback form, you should submit it by grade class, you should send an email you should know you should do this. You should do this. You should do this. And often what gets left out of the conversation and this was so apparent during my daughter is not a Cool stuff was that I didn’t want to do any of that I just want to live my life and move on with my day or do my thing. And so during my daughter’s medical crisis, I was dealing with very inaccessible insurance related information, and need to find ways to get that accessible. And that was time that I should have been spending with my child. And it made me angry that I had to spend so much time that I didn’t really want to spend doing something that, you know, needed to be done. And what is interesting is that was probably the most prevalent thing. But, you know, I run into this, I started keeping a list of like, how often do I encounter an accessibility thing? Sometimes it’s major, sometimes it’s not, it happens multiple times per day. And if I were to take the time to submit a bug report, a bug report or a sheet back or send an email, contact the company every single time, I would get nothing done. And sometimes it’s not easy to do that. Or sometimes I’ll take the time to do that. And then I’ll get some message back that’s like, Oh, thank you, we’ll consider that for a future version. You know, it’s like a feature request. And so the part that I think, sometimes gets forgotten is that, you know, while I think most people want to raise awareness around accessibility, and certainly, you know, certainly I do, at some point, people want to also do whatever it is that they want to do whatever’s is part of their life, either because it’s exciting to them, like a hobby or something, or because it’s something they have to do. You know, I don’t, I don’t look forward to paying utility bills unnecessarily. But if I have to deal with an accessibility of utility bills, sites to pay my bills, I cannot pay them. Right. And yet, you know, every time I have to pay a bill, I don’t want to have to engineer my own solution for paying the bill. I just want to pay it and move on with life. And, and, and try to forget how much Jordan, right. Like, that’s, you know, no one is like, I want to take half of my day and figure out how to pay my, you know, insert utility named Bill, right? Nobody wants to, and then you call the number and they say, well, we can take your payment over the summer, we charge a $5 fee. And then you say, Well, I don’t want to pay the fee, because their website’s not accessible. So why should I have to pay the fee? And then they said, Well, we have to check with the supervisor, we could waive the fee, but you have to call back to good fee waived. After an appeal appears on your next invoice, I think, Okay, I’ll do it. And then I have to put a calendar things I don’t forget next month to call to get my $5 back, I’ll have to wait on hold for 20 minutes. I mean, at some point, you just want to pay the bill and move on. And this happens. I find so so frequently. And you know, when it happens on a retail site, oftentimes you can find a product on another site. If one site is inaccessible, or causes us struggle, you can go somewhere else. And oftentimes, not always, but often you can find the same product somewhere else. But you can’t do that with health care so much. If you have a health insurance company, and you’re not able to get what you need out of the health plan, and or your medical providers, you’re not able to get the information that you need, you can’t just be like, well, you know, I’m just going to switch providers because that may be determined by your employer, or if you’re, you know, receiving state funded assistance, then you may not have any say in who that provider is. And so you don’t have that option anymore. And that’s terrifying to me when it comes to health care for for, you know, self care or for you know, if you’re caring for someone else. And I’ve spoken with people who often don’t even get preventative care because they’re like, Well, you know, it’s not accessible, it’s too hard to set it up. So I’m just not going to do it. I think that’s a terrible reason to not do that. You might regret it later. You know, it’s it’s if people are not going to get preventative care, I you know, I’d rather be because they’re stubborn or whatever. They’re gonna make that choice. That should be a choice that everyone can make. It shouldn’t be. I’m not getting this because it’s just too difficult for me, due to accessibility to To, you know, arrange that care, and then find out later, gosh, something very serious could have been prevented if only I had been able to book that mammogram or schedule that colonoscopy or whatever it couldn’t, was too inaccessible. And now, you know, I’ve got a much bigger problem to try to figure out how to deal with. So that’s kind of what got me into healthcare space. Because it’s really one of those situations where an accessibility could mean the difference, you know, really, truly a life. Life impacting difference?
Steve Kelley
Yeah, it must be gratifying to GE part of making a positive difference in that space for other people.
Steve Sawczyn
It is a unfortunate now that I work with a company that is local, meaning most of the patients and members are part of the community in which I live. So they’re their neighbors, their friends, their people that are here, that, you know, I’ve met in person that will give me a positive or negative comment. And they’ll say sometimes things like, oh, no, I’m so glad this works, I was able to do whatever I was able to get this information. You know, I’m so glad that this has been done, because it’s made my life easier in this way. And in the reverse is also true. Sometimes someone will say something negative. But then I get to have a real situation, versus a hypothetical theoretical story, to tell someone I can say, hey, I spoke with this person who is really struggling to do a thing. And here’s how they feel, look at this angry email I got from this person. And, and read it. And oftentimes someone will come away and say, Gosh, I’d be angry too. If I was that. It’s like, yeah, so now that we understand this, it’s going to be much easier to figure out how to fix it. Because we understand where this angry person is coming from and why they’re angry. Plus, they’re in pain, they don’t want to write to me for the same reasons I’ve mentioned, right? They complaining is one more thing that’s added to their day, they just want to get whatever it is and feel better. So I value, the negative feedback as much as the positive because I realized that it might be a sacrifice for someone to submit that negative feedback. If you’re in pain, taking the extra time to you know, send an angry email to me is that’s, that’s tough to do if you’re in pain or not feeling well or, you know, and so the fact that they take the time to do that is something I try to really honor and, and be respectful about even this time, it’s it’s pretty mean.
Steve Kelley
Hey, Steve, if most of this I’m just going to type up as a, as a as an interview for for print, but if, if the sound quality is decent on this, are you okay with me sharing some or all of it as an mp3, or that sort of thing as an audio? Sure, cool. That’s, you’ve been really, really generous with your time. I, I so appreciate that. And, you know, it goes without saying that I, you know, I always enjoyed talking to you. So, it’s, it’s really easy to, you know, to kind of get into it. But nonetheless, I do appreciate your time. I know you’ve got other things you could be doing. So thank you.
Steve Sawczyn
I appreciate that. Sorry. And anytime I think of other questions,
Steve Kelley
I may appreciate the the opportunity to follow up. I think this one’s a little bit on a tight deadline but cutting up
This transcript was generated by https://otter.ai

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Low Vision Tech Blog, Uncategorized, Vision Rehab Podcast and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Skip to top