Feb. 22, 2021

How Google is Addressing Accessibility and Inclusion with Kyndra LoCoco

How Google is Addressing Accessibility and Inclusion with Kyndra LoCoco

How Google is Addressing Accessibility and Inclusion with Kyndra LoCoco

We are happy to be joined on the show today by Kyndra LoCoco. She is the Accessibility Partner Programs Manager at Google and she chats with Martyn about her work in the disability community. Kyndra shares her background, her journey to becoming a googler, and her personal connection to the disability community. They also touch on topics such as how Google addresses accessibility in their products, verbiage changes in the community and much more.

Contact Mai Ling: MLC at mailingchan.com

Contact James: James at slptransitions.com



Introduction 00:00

My very first initiative that I wanted to do coming into the team was just understanding what are the gaps? What are we missing here? What do we need to actually build? How are we going to shore these gaps up? And I think that that was probably the most valuable.


Martyn 00:19

Welcome to Xceptional Leaders, with Mai Ling and Martyn, where we give you front row access to intimate conversations that are shaping the way the world is supporting disabled people. If it's happening, it's being shared here. I'm Martyn Sibley,


Mai Ling 00:34

and I am Mai Ling Chan. And today we are talking with Kyndra LoCoco (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyndra-lococo-9ab28769/). It's an interview by Martyn. And what I really loved Martyn, is its kind of pulling back the curtain at what's going on at Google and how that all got started. So, thank you so much for this interview.


Martyn 00:50

Yeah, it was a really nice one, I think. You know, we're all quite taken by the brands, the big tech giants, obviously, you interviewed Alan Brightman. And we had such a, I liked your expression, I peel back the curtain, and we saw those founding parts of how Microsoft, you know, ventured into assistive tech. So, I think that's something really cool to almost bring more up to date now with the Google side of things and what they're doing. And to be honest, most of all, it was a sort of a personal journey of Kyndra, personal connection to disability, and how she sort of made a career out of it, which is really interesting.


Mai Ling 01:29

Yeah, and what's really big, in the company that I'm with Cognixion (https://www.cognixion.com/) is seeing women in tech really take on huge roles. And that's, you know, something that we've been pushing for or trying to get past the glass ceiling, obviously, you know, in all areas of business. But my company specifically, we've been at least 50% women on the coding team, and then also on the, you know, executive team. So, just so exciting. I loved how she said, Challenge accepted when they said it would be really hard to work at Google.


Mai Ling 01:58

Yeah, yeah, she's definitely been able to sort of go out, forge a way. And yeah, push, push the envelope is another little expression we use. I don't know if that transfers over to the US. And I guess that's quite a nice Segway, that one or that without doing too much of a spoiler alert. But one of the things that I talk about in the interview with Kendra, is language of disability. And we know that it has divides within the community, but also differences across countries as well. And I just find that, it's something you and I have spoken about how I say, disabled people, the kind of UK preferences you say, people with disabilities, and yeah, I just, it's kind of nice, just to have a little touch base on that. I mean, has that come up in your world in more recent meetings, or anything for you Mai Ling?  Absolutely. And even on one to one level, because I really get to talk directly with disability thought leaders. And so, I've been taught, and I put that, in quotes is that it's people first language to a person with disability, a child with autism. And I was actually corrected by one of my colleagues who has a disability and he was like, no, I don't want to be referred to as that I'm, I'm disabled, you know, it's not that big of a title. And then I am actually at the point of editing our second book, which is Becoming An Exceptional AAC leader, augmentative and alternative communication leader. And I'm requesting that we title, this one area is, Persons with Disability or People with Disability. And whenever you're using that in a sentence, that the P is capitalized, and the D is capitalized. And so, my editors were like, is this a thing? You know, because if it is it has to be consistent throughout the book. So, we're kind of in the in the middle of making that decision. And here's a good question. Do you have a recommendation on that?


Martyn 03:44

Well, my frame of reference has been having worked at the NGO scope and not understood the notion of the social model, which is that I have spinal muscular atrophy is my condition, my health condition, and some would say it's my disability. The social model says that we're disabled by barriers. And I think for me with having quite a physical health condition, as opposed to like being blind or deaf, is very, very apt because as a wheelchair user, if transportation or a building has steps that disables me, and if a person presumes I've not cognitively capable because I'm sat in a wheelchair, that disables me. So I've always been a big proponent of the social model, and the social model languages, disabled people disabled by barriers, but I totally understand that with different kinds of health conditions and again, different countries, etc., etc. it's very yeah, kind of different preferences. And I suppose it and that's something that Kyndra and I get into an interview, but it just starts to pose the question, does the language create a barrier in itself and does it create fear from people worrying they kind of offend and say the wrong thing? And is that the thing we need to be focusing on? Is it not the actual barriers and the assistive technology and the inclusion part rather than getting too hung up on the language? It's a really interesting one for me anyway,


Mai Ling 05:19

I love it. And you know what I'm going to crowdsource and I'm going to ask my colleagues and friends, I'm going to put that on my Facebook page and ask what they feel I'll let them vote, you know, what they think the best language is because there's definitely a full pod area that's been coming up with using outdated language, you know, not being in the know of what is up and coming, for example, pronouns, you know, the right use of pronouns and how to be sensitive to it. It's just so important.


Martyn 05:45

Yeah. It's funny when you and I before we started recording, like our there's not that much to catch up on this week. And this is already so interesting. And it's just fired off something else in my last week. So, I've not yet done a live on this. But I think by the time this episode goes out, I will have done a video on it. But it's basically around Nike. And they've done this new Trainer with an adapted footwear, adaptive technology called Fly Ease (https://www.nike.com/flyease). And what this whole case study, if you like, has thrown up is that there was a disabled person involved in the design. So, the shoe is very much about being adaptive footwear, but because they want it to be for everybody, because it's actually useful even for people that don't have a disability. The marketing isn't speaking about the fact that a disabled person inspired and had an involvement in the design. And I am conflicted, let alone we get you know, there's polarization in general, of different groups and different in all the stuff we're aware of in society has a polarization. But I'm confused. Because I think, you know, in a way, we should talk about the fact that it had disabled people in mind. But we don't want to always pigeonhole and exclude groups. And so, I'm still working in my own head what I feel about this, but what are your thoughts on that in general, Mai Ling?


Mai Ling 07:16

Yeah, it's great to hear your perspective on it. I definitely saw the Nike ads. And then I also saw the controversial posts in different disability focused Facebook groups. So, it's been really interesting to know the behind the scenes again, on the development of that specific shoe and how it's just being marketed for mainstream. So yes, I think that we've come a long way. And that we really need to give credit where credit is due. And it's important and essential. And so, this will be interesting if this filters back to Nike, and if they end up doing any additional promotion on this.


Martyn 07:51

Yeah, I mean the last point on that, and it does come from the place of run, in Purple Goat (http://purplegoatagency.com/), which is a social influencer marketing agency, but it's not born out of, O we just want Nike as a client, and want to make loads of money. It's a genuine, you know, synergy, is that in marketing, you have the story told by the community for the community. So even if a product is for everyone, and a brand is for everyone, you still market within segmented communities. And so I hope at the very least they do work with disabled talent and disabled influencers to add and also not lose that, that innovation by disability, which is part of the story which should be told to everybody because it's phenomenal.


Mai Ling 08:38

Yep. So, you hear that anybody who knows anybody at Nike, please let them know, they need to get in touch with Martyn Sibley at Purple Goat, so we get...


Martyn 08:45

I am sure it doesn't surprise you Mai Ling, but I'm already chipping away behind the scenes as well,


Mai Ling 08:49

I'm sure I'm sure. But you never know. You know, somebody knows somebody really well,


Martyn 08:52

I know, I know. Anyone that wants to lend, lend their weight to this. It's because I, in the end, it's about and I think this is why I put it up, it's about the culture, and the language and the being proud of being disabled, is all part of the same thing. So, we won't solve this in one episode, unfortunately. But it's certainly a very interesting conversation.


Mai Ling 09:13

Now, I love it. And I love that we're talking to you as the listener to be a part of this and help us to continue to change the language and the story out there. So that actually brings us to why you're important to us. We want to continue to ask you, please, if you have time, and you can drop in a podcast review for us on any of the channels that you're listening to us. That would be great. That's on Apple, Spotify, you name it, we're out there. We really need to freshen up the love for the podcast. That'd be wonderful. And also, we want to connect with you. So, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, you can go to our Xceptionalleaders.com page, sign up for our mailing list. This is all new. We'd love to really start connecting with the people who are listening to us and let us know what you want to hear and if you have any great referrals for a guest and I do want to thank you too, we have been getting some messages from everybody. And we only have 26 shows, which is really important. Martyn and I obviously are doing this for free. That's a great way to put it, you know, and in addition to all of our many day jobs and other things that we do, and so we're super selective, but we definitely want to get everyone's information and we're going to find, try to find ways that we can incorporate the information into the shows. So, thank you so much.


Martyn 10:25

Yeah, that's, uh, I was just gonna build on that point, Mai Ling. And it was so in rhythm now. And you know, in simpatico, as they say, in Italian that we're kind of almost telepathic now. But yeah, just building on your point there. I think it's really important to us that people give feedback about what they'd like in future shows as well. So yeah, as much as the general, the reviews and the likes and the love. We want way more of that always. But yeah, definitely help us to make this show even better. And so, we just love to hear your ideas for guests and your ideas for topics as well. So, do we want you to really feel part of this show in the creation of it as well.


Mai Ling 11:07

Excellent. Well, are you ready to share Kyndra with everyone?


Martyn 11:10

Let's do it. Kyndra, thank you for joining me on today's podcast episode. We met sort of back late summer, autumn time through Srin Madipalli, who's a man of our town. He is a you know, done all the travels and then fixed Accomable (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accomable) with Airbnb. And I think you and him connected in the US. And he kindly introduced us both. And we, we had one of those talks where I think we could have chatted for hours about the passion for inclusion in tech. And I was like, well, let's just make a podcast out of it. Because it was it was such an enjoyable chat with you, that then we can sort of share these topics and your experience and knowledge with the podcast listener and so thank you for coming on the show first of all.


Kyndra 11:57

Thanks for having me.


Martyn 11:59

A pleasure. And I guess yeah, first of all, just be great that that sort of Srin and I, when we do our talks, we call it the Raised by wolves, be like the general backstory of you. It will be great to just hear that. You know, where you're from in the States, kind of what any of the studies you've done. And of course, how you ended up working in Google, be great to start there, if that's okay.


Kyndra 12:19

Sure. So, I'm originally from Central California, a small town, beach town called Pismo Beach, close to San Luis Obispo if anyone knows that better, but I originally got into accessibility because my mom actually has MS (Multiple Sclerosis). She's a wheelchair user. So, I've sort of been brought up as this ally, so to speak. But I ended up working for the National MS Society in college. So, I was very much so on the nonprofit side, I quickly realized I wanted to be the person on the other end giving the money. And instead of asking for it, I think that nonprofit work is amazing and incredibly difficult. And I just commend everyone who does it. And so, I was in class one day, and this professor was talking about this company called Google that was relatively new at the time. And how cool was that they had these beanbags and these cool chairs to sit on and, and you know, they have some of the smartest engineers in the world there. And it just really piqued my interest. And I think that he had kind of mentioned something that was in the sense of like, it's almost impossible to work there, which one I'll debunk right now, is not true. Because I work there. And I'm not the smartest person in the world. And so, for some reason, I'm that kind of person that really likes to prove people wrong when they tell me I can't do something. So, I had got this notion in my head, that I was gonna work at Google. And I didn't know how, I didn't know why, I wasn't an engineer. But I figured, you know, this large company, they have to have more than just engineers at this company, right? And so, for the next couple years, I moved back to San Luis, I finished up at Cal Poly, California Polytechnic State University for those who don't know it. And basically, about two years after I graduated, I graduated around some of the worst economic times. So, it was a rough two years trying to look for a job when I graduated. But I decided to just move up to the bay and start networking and just try and meet people and see what I could find. And it turns out, I met someone who knew someone who knew someone, a recruiter. And so, I went, and I applied for this job that essentially was top secret at the time, they couldn't tell me what it was, I didn't even know what I was interviewing for. And I got hired. And so, I was like, yeah, whatever it is all I'll try it, I'll put my foot in the door there. And that being the Google Shopping program, which was really exciting. So, I also had a lot of retail background and in business background. And so, I spent four years building out the original shopping program for Google. And once that came to an end, I was able to at some point in that time, become full time with Google and after four years, I decided, okay, this is my time to now really find what I came here for, really find what I'm passionate about. And that's when I met Eve (https://www.linkedin.com/in/eveandersson/), who's our now director for Google accessibility. And we just really vibed, don't say that word, we really vibed, really enjoyed each other. And, you know, at the time, it was sort of like, we have this amazing team, we're expanding rapidly, you know, there's a million things we need to do. So, it's not necessarily one hat you'd be wearing, we just need someone to come in and kind of do a lot of stuff. And I love those kinds of roles because you can kind of shape it the way you want to. So, I was I was all game for that. So, I've been on accessibility now for about, ooh, coming up to about four and a half, almost five years. So, it's been it's been a really fun ride. And I've gone from sort of managing communities, launching a global Disability Support Team. And now I'm working mainly with partners as a Partner Manager. So really, really exciting stuff. But that is, in a nutshell how I got here.


Martyn 16:03

That's impressive. You you've covered off a lot of interesting moments and experiences is that really. Yeah. Is I just sort of reflecting on you know, from my journey, there was there, I am, have a disability, you obviously mentioned your, your mum has MS.? So, there's that, I guess, you know, lived experience connection of disability, I, my first job at the uni was a not for profit. And that was that, you know, great to get stuck in the coalface of how to make the world better. But then...


Kyndra 16:36



Martyn 16:37

Particularly as Tech has swept across our culture the last 10, 20 years it, I've sort of noticed that the great world of charities and the not for profit still do today, they can't do it on their own, there has to be that collaboration with business here with governments just across all the different sectors. And yeah, it sounds like that similar journey where there is a goal, life goals and professional goals and the sort of gradually bit by bit, you know, move more and more at your, your passion was a finger point about the networking side was really interesting. It's fascinated how you could end up as someone I was chatting to earlier, picked up a client at a marketing agency, just out drinking late night in a club. And then, I won't mention who they are,


Kyndra 17:30

that sounds a little more fun than how I networked.


Martyn 17:34

The ways that this collaboration and that words come together a bit like Srin connecting us, it's always really fascinating as well. So yeah, I just really do see interesting touch points in your journey there, really. So I'm gonna guess when we when we look at the sort of community side of disability, and the barriers that we know whether they be the physical environmental barriers or digital barriers, that the attitude all those barriers that are faced day to day? When was it that you were able to start looking at that more? I don't, I don't know if systematically the right word is. But when do you feel like you had more impact in playing a part in trying to have more inclusion of more people with a disability?


Kyndra 18:19

I would say, obviously, my entire life, as I kind of mentioned was my eyes were open, so to speak to a lot of the community. So I, I never felt like I necessarily needed to more educate myself or have that empathy, so to speak, which unfortunately, sometimes I still feel like there are people that you kind of have to start from that ground zero of empathy building, and, and it's always disheartening. So, I was lucky in that sense, I would say, and I definitely call it lucky, because I think it's, it's amazing to have that, you know, perspective. I think that when I really started feeling like I had a major impact on the community was probably from like day one of coming on the accessibility team. Because like I said, I was given so much range and so much opportunity to sort of analyze the current market and understand what we had what we were missing. So, at the time, we only have one community, it was called, it still is called Eyes Free (https://groups.google.com/g/eyes-free-dev). And it's essentially a community that is on a simple Google forum. And so, we really felt like looking at a lot of other companies. And believe it or not, we actually talked to all the other companies. We're all very friendly, and Microsoft's been amazing in this journey. We spoke to Facebook and Apple and we really learned and understood, you know, what is it that you have on the community side? What do you feel like works best? How do you reach out to the community the most? And then just like you said, How are you diversifying it? We also know that there are sometimes problems of us feeling like right at a bay area bubble, right that we don't want to learn from each other when we're all pretty high tech, you're right. Like, that's not sometimes the typical person. So, we really wanted to make sure that we also diversified in a number of ways. So, I think that coming in and doing that analysis right away, I mean, that was my very first very first initiative that I wanted to do coming into the team was just understanding what are the gaps? What are we missing here? What do we need to actually build? How are we going to shore these gaps up? And I think that that was probably the most valuable because that really ended up launching multiple communities, multiple campaigns, social media. And then it also launched the Disability Support Team, which, as I said, became a global team. So, I think that that was probably one of my most exciting accomplishments, especially because I didn't come from a huge customer support background, or especially, you know, call centers and things like that. So, I really had to just take what I could and learn as fast as I could. And I think I put in my report, at one point, learn fast, learn quickly, fail fast kind of thing. Right?


Martyn 21:04



Kyndra 21:04

So, I think that I won't say that I had impact on day one, but maybe that people could see right away but impact in terms of where we were going in the direction of the company and my role. Yeah, it was like day, one week one kind of thing. Just doing that analysis was really eye opening.


Martyn 21:21

Yeah, I know, from the cup of tasks we've had to, you're the least ego player today. I know. It's all about the community and the broader good. And I guess the question was in that sort of as your career progressed, so that the roles that you were moving into where your role enabled you to move the needle more, which is yeah, exactly as you've just what one thing he was saying in that opening section was use the word like an ally, gosh, you mentioned your relationship, your mom and MS. But that I've had a few people I've spoken to on the podcast from all different parts of I always call it the jigsaw puzzle of inclusion. There's so many different parts, you know, not just in business, but just yeah, it's just a massive web of areas of how we can make the world more inclusive. And ...


Kyndra 22:08



Martyn 22:08

There are lots of amazing people that don't have a disability. And I always said it's sort of like it, obviously, it's coming from the militant disability, right wing, where it's very much should always be a disabled people leading and no one's disagreeing with that, as a general, you know, you want the voice of the disabled consumer when you want leaders with a disability. But I also think it's a little bit sad, where people that have that passion and care so much feel slightly kind of awkward about their, their role in it. Oh, I just feel interesting to hear your experience on that. Like, how do you feel about being such a big player? And Has it ever caused any difficulties or awkwardness’s for you on that area?


Kyndra 22:59

Of course, I, I think you're right, you're hitting, you know, the nail on the head right now, because I'm not sure there's a great solution for it if I'm being totally honest. And there are certainly times where even I have a thought or an idea of how we could improve something. But what, what we tend to do, at least at Google, is we have communities, internal communities that we reach out to. And so you know, I might have a great idea in my head, and I'll send it out to the community and say, hey, what does everyone think about this, and someone will say something that I hadn't even thought about, or completely knock it down. And it's, it's not to be taken personally, by any means. It's a learning experience. I will say that, at times, it does feel like you sort of need to have this thicker skin for being within the accessibility space. And it's not because people are mean, it's just because you have to be really opened to hearing people's feedback. And you have to be okay when it's not necessarily going your way. And that's something that I've had to learn over the, over the last four and a half years of being an accessibility. And I think over time, you start to get a better feel, and understanding for why people with disabilities might be saying things that they're saying. And I know we were talking a little bit about jargon and wording before this. And even that is a big debate. Right? So I think that it's just one of those things that you have to be okay with, you have to be open minded, and you have to be able to take in and on the other on the flip side too, I'm so I guess, proud of Google, at least internally, that we can have these open conversations where I can actually say, well, here's why I don't understand or here's why I disagree. Please let me know, like, if I'm missing anything, and so we genuinely try and have these conversations that are very open and understanding and I feel comfortable saying I understand I don't have a disability as a preface to this. So please let me know what I might be missing here and they're very comfortable saying, okay, well, here's what we go, here's what happens, or here's what we go through on a day to day or this is why you're wrong. And so, yeah, I think in the end, you just have to be really opened to that and okay with it.


Martyn 25:12

Yeah, that's, I think that's the narrative around. I've heard that word allies quite a lot. And the sort of, you know, when your part of a community and industry and leading, and whether you have a disability or not, there's that bit we've just touched upon. But like, what you also just said in your answer, I have a disability. But I like other people with the same health condition as I still have different life experiences, let alone if someone is blind or deaf, right. So, it's always about that research and insights part that you, you can get the voice as, as many people as possible. That's definitely important.


Mai Ling [Sponsor Ad] 25:55

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Martyn 26:49

So, you mentioned about the partnerships that you are in the role that you're in now. Can you tell us a bit more about when you sort of, say partners? What does that mean? And yeah, just be good to hear some of the stuff you're up to at the moment? Or what you're allowed to tell us? Of course, as well.


Kyndra 27:05

Yeah. So, partnerships is 95% of my role. Now. I mean, I, I pretty much focus on that. So, we have, you know, relationships with universities, and nonprofits, and even companies and companies like yourself, right. And so, it really, it's a huge range, it's a, it's a very wide range of what kind of what kind of grit really, I'll even say like government policy. So, it goes into this very large range of, of partnerships, and everything is, is dependent on I guess, you know, what we're doing and what we're focused on for the year. So, I'll name just a couple and, and these aren't exhaustive of an entire list. But in the US, for example, like American Foundation for the Blind, National Federation for the Blind, we have National Association of the Deaf and the list goes on and on. And so, I think that what we really try and do with most of these partners is better understand how we can improve our products for their community members. And so, we do a lot of user research, we do a lot of development, we have some folks on an advisory board that come in and advise us on things on various things. And then there's those kinds of one off like really fun campaigns that we do. I think, you know, a couple years ago, we worked with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (https://www.christopherreeve.org/), where we donated up to 100,000, Google Home minis. And so, you know, those are some of the fun one-off campaigns we like to have. And then of course, a lot of it is I sit on the United Spinal Associations Council Board (https://unitedspinal.org/corporate-advisory-council/). So, we have monthly meetings, where we actually come and listen to members from their community talk about various products, whether they're Google products or not. So, it's just really great to get those insights. But overall, a lot of what we do is just building rapport with organizations. So one, they know that they can reach out to us if they have any feedback, or they'd like to have an open conversation and two, so we can make sure that what we were actually building and what we have planned on our roadmaps is what their community is hoping for in meeting. So, it's just really great alignment to have basically.


Martyn 29:20

Yeah, yeah, I do see you mentioned, because you know just pondering when it's okay, that you've got the disability community, either, I'm sure that you've referenced a few ways already different ways of interacting and partnering with that community, because we're a pretty big community in the in terms of numbers. I also see earlier you were saying that some of the other leaders like the Microsoft's and that well, that there's ways of partnering with them. So, I can imagine there's a lot of different ways of partnering all for that greater good, of you know, the mission, I mean, sort of taking that perspective. Looking to the future, what was sort of, you know, look at trends and kind of how far we've come the last, say decade around accessibility for the community of disability for Google, as a company, for this sort of tech sector, just because to get a copy of your thoughts on sort of where we are, and what are some of the challenges, but some of the opportunities are going to be in the next five to 10 years as well.


Kyndra 30:26

I mean, beyond product development, because we all know that Google, Microsoft, that everyone wants to build better products all the time, right. So, beyond product development, I think that some of the things on my end, I would really love to see, and I started seeing a pretty big shift the last two years, I'd say, is storytelling. I think that there's just not enough storytelling. And I think that, you know, we're having a lot of conversations internally around how we want to tell stories and make sure that we're telling stories appropriately and authentically. And I think that, you know, some of the things that we've definitely seen this year are that we haven't done enough in is intersectionality, between communities like the disability community and the black community, or LGBTQ plus communities. And I don't think we've done enough in that sense. So, over the next year, I I'd really like to find and support these communities more, and really tell their story in an authentic way. So that's hopefully what happens on my end.


Martyn 31:30

Yeah. So when you say, about sexuality, at Purple Goat, for those listening that haven't yet caught up on that news, I'm running their influencer marketing agency around disability, and we had a client that was all about fitness, and very much with the Black Lives Matter, campaigning and all the things that were going on in the thick of 2020. And, you know, it should continue to go on in 2021. And beyond very much to your point, that Kyndra, we wanted to make sure we had influencers with a disability, that were comfortable on camera doing workouts, and also from the Beam community (https://www.beam.community/), as I think you say, niche and in UK, we say niche, but that was as niche as we've gone. But it's so important, exactly what you were just saying that, you know, when you've got those difficulties of being from a minority community, but when you are a member of two or three or four, you know that there's so much more barriers coming back to that word I used at the beginning. So that's really great to hear that, you know, Google, companies like Google, and generally as a, as a tech world will be looking to support that intersectionality a lot more. So. That's right. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Moving, really towards the end of the interview, but I just wanted to give you the opportunity. Is there anything else that you wanted the chance to mention while we're chatting Kyndra?


Kyndra 32:57

Yeah, I'd actually love to dive a little bit into the jargon, because it's with someone you're chatting about before. And I think it's so interesting, and I'd love to hear your perspective on it. Because, well, just for context for everyone, I think the main one was people with disabilities versus disabled person or disabled people, you know, and you were saying in Europe, you use disabled person. And mostly in the US, we use people with disabilities, or we call it people first language. But ironically, just this year, there's actually been a lot of discussion around whether or not we should move towards disabled people. And almost, you know, in a capitalized dissent, where we have, you know, a lot of pride for the disabled culture, similar to the Deaf culture. And so, I'm just really curious to know, you know, your perspective on that and, and just maybe spend a minute on it.


Martyn 33:49

Absolutely. Yeah, we already touched upon niche a niche, which is separate to disability, but it's that different ways of pronouncing a word between the UK and USA. So yeah, within the disability side of that, in Europe more broadly, like I think France says handicap, which in UK is really bad. So even in Europe it is different, right? But yeah, my perspective growing up in England, I've always said disabled people, because it's under what we call the social model. So, I have a health condition, which is called spinal muscular atrophy. But I'm a disabled person because I'm disabled by the barriers of society. And that's why I always talk about barriers in those different ways. And I know in the US a person first because it's sort of saying that we're not defined by a disability, we're a person first. So right as even in the UK, people sometimes say person first language, so it's a nightmare. And it's really hard to not offend anybody. I think you know, on a personal level, It's always been more about the intent someone has. So if someone's saying any kind of word, because they're being nasty or derogatory, wrong, and if someone says it, and it's maybe not the way I would say it, I would, you know, either look to educate them, when you talk about that sort of level one educational side of it all, or be just be like, you know, what we'll say are different versions. And that's cool because we all have a right to do so. So, I think language is very important around politics and civil rights. And it's a way of empowering a community. And it’s sort of the community should define what language it prefers to use. But as we just said, that will vary globally and even within a nation. And in the end, I also think that we shouldn't let that become a barrier towards inclusion, because sometimes the politics of inclusion in the language can cause more of a barrier. So yeah, that's just my two pence, where it'll be good to hear your thoughts as well on it, Kyndra.


Kyndra 36:04

You know, I, on a very personal state, my, my mom was always kind of embarrassed of her disability. And I think that it, it always made me angry, which I hate to say, because I'm not the person with a disability, but I guess I always wanted her to have this pride in it. And then, and I think that's part of kind of why I went into accessibility because I want to make sure that if myself, or you know, anyone else in my family ends up having a disability that they don't have to feel that way anymore. So, we know she's always preferred, not even mentioning disability, and in any way, since, you know, and so she even says handicap still. And I'll be like, Mom, no, don't say handicap. And she's like, I can say what I want. I'm the person with the disability. And so, I have to respect that, you know, but coming from Google, when we're very much so people first wording and, you know, it's hard to take sometimes. So, I think that you're so right, I think this is probably one of those things. That's a to be continued moment. And at this point, you know, it's more of how you prefer to be referenced and, you know, just try and be as thoughtful as possible. But it is interesting to see, see the different cultures. And I did notice that going into France versus London, for example. And you know, it's very, it's very interesting. So, I think for the time being, we'll probably stick with people first. But I do know that there is a very large shift and movement to go into the disabled person with a capital D. So, I'll be really interested to see what happens over the next year or two. But like I said, I think this is probably a To be continued thing.


Martyn 37:46

Yeah, I hadn't heard about that in the USA, so that's really interesting to know, there's that conversation happening at the moment. But I think your point about pride is the most important area, because when we look at the civil rights and the political side, have you heard of #CripTheVote before?


Kyndra 38:04



Martyn 38:04

Yeah. So that that's really vital if disabled people, as we say, in the UK, come together. And it's that unified vote, we have a lot of power on what sort of political party or policies could better represent the rights of disabled people. And obviously, we've we call it the purple pound in the UK, but the spending power of disabled consumers, it's the same. So, I do feel like if we can instill a sense of pride, and belonging, and culture all coming together, we're more likely to get the political change and the business change that we all need in the world. So, it could be a powerful tool if it's used, right. But it comes back to leaders and who gets to choose, you know, it's such a thing. So definitely To be continued for an interview.


Kyndra 38:58



Martyn 39:00

Well, I know that we touched on that. It's such an interesting one. All right. Well, unless there's anything else you wanted to mention, I just wanted to say a really big thank you for your time. And to be continued on a number of levels. I think there'll be lots of interesting stuff coming in 2021. Hopefully not as difficult and weird as 2020.


Kyndra 39:22

Well, it's not off to a great start. I think we'll do our best in 2021.


Martyn 39:27

I feel like the next couple of months for different reasons will be a bit bumpy. I mean, I'm coming from the UK perspective and just the virus perspective of, so you guys have got the changeover of President as well. But I hope March April, one way or other things will pick up, yep. What don't.


Kyndra 39:47

But yes, thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.


Martyn 39:50

My pleasure. Thanks a lot, Kyndra.


Mai Ling 39:52

Thanks so much for joining us for this episode, and I invite you to connect with me directly at Malingchan.com. We also want you to let us know what you think about the show ideas and how we can continue to help you or referrals to a great guest, through our Facebook group, at Xceptional Leaders Podcast, or email us at xleaderspodcast@gmail.com.


Martyn 40:13

Yes, Mai Ling, I totally agree to that. I know we're both really mission driven people. And for me, it's always been this big mission, to have a world that's fully inclusive for all people. And in the end, that's probably why we've bonded and come together so well on this podcast, Xceptional Leaders Podcast (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/xceptional-leaders-with-mai-ling-chan-martyn-sibley/id1435433350), podcast, because we get to meet cool people, give them a platform to share their story, and really just make such an impact in the disability world. I love it. Also, for everyone listening, please do head over to disabilityadvisors.com. This is the magazine that I co-founded about 10 years ago and we've got a free mailing list there for all the latest article, news, and discounts for the shop, if that's your kind of thing. And definitely, definitely do get your copy of Becoming an Exceptional Leader book. We want you to get as much information as you need and to be as successful as you can be.

Kyndra LoCocoProfile Photo

Kyndra LoCoco

"Kyndra LoCoco is the Accessibility Partner Programs Manager for Google. In this role, she cultivates relationships with non-profits, advocacy organizations, training centers, rehabilitation centers, schools, universities, companies, governments and more. Kyndra has been with Google since 2012 and the Accessibility team since 2016 and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Disability Rights Advocates. Prior to her current role, she built the Google Disability Support team and managed the Google Accessibility event programs. Before accessibility, she worked to build Google’s largest retail space, Google Shopping Express (now Google Shopping) and before Google, she worked within the disability focused non-profit sector with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kyndra holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) in San Luis Obispo."