April 11, 2022

The Importance of Online Accessibility with Joe Devon

The Importance of Online Accessibility with Joe Devon

Our guest today is Joe Devon, the co-founder of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day and a co-founder of Diamond, an inclusive digital agency specializing in assisting clients to develop and implement accessible products. Joe talks with Mai Ling and...

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Our guest today is Joe Devon, the co-founder of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day and a co-founder of Diamond, an inclusive digital agency specializing in assisting clients to develop and implement accessible products. Joe talks with Mai Ling and shares some highlights from Diamond’s annual State of Accessibility Report, tells how his father was the inspiration for his accessibility work, and why accessibility online is so vital.


Contact Mai Ling: MLC at mailingchan.com

Contact James: James at slptransitions.com



Joe Devon 00:00

These are users on the other end. They're people, they're human beings who cannot use the product because you're not good at your craft. And I'm sorry to be so straight up. But that's what it is.


Mai Ling 00:16

You're listening to the exceptional leader’s podcast. Each week, we give you a front row seat to our conversations with new and successful entrepreneurs, and thought leaders making an impact in the special education and disability communities. They share their intimate experiences, so you can start, grow and expand your impact. I'm Mai Ling you can find me at https://www.mailingchan.com/.


James Berges 00:36

And I am James Berges of https://slptransitions.com/. And today we are going to be chatting about Mai Ling's interview with Joe Devon.


Mai Ling 00:44

That was a good one.


James Berges 00:45

Yeah, Mai Ling I really enjoyed listening to this one and Joe Devon put out a state of accessibility report and a couple of big takeaways that I got from this that I want to hear yours. But super interesting, because 1.2 5 billion people are affected by accessibility on the web, that's bigger than the population of China.


Mai Ling 01:07



James Berges 01:07

So he's speaking to the fact that while our web accessibility as far as different tools, you know, speech to text to speech, screen readers, these types of things have come a long way, especially since 2019 and the pandemic really accelerated that there are still some gaps that we would like to see addressed, especially in the mobile space.


Mai Ling 01:30

Yeah, because everybody's on mobile now. Right?


James Berges 01:33

Yeah, it was something like we pick up our phones, what, like, every 10 minutes on average, which is a sad statistic, but I can't say I'm not guilty of it. And, you know, the free apps actually did a better job of being accessible than paid apps, which I won't get into. But I found that to be an interesting statistic from the interview. So a long way to go, but we're making progress. And it's really cool that he talks about, you know, I find in our field, we overwhelm people with too many things that we could be doing, as an SLP talking to teachers in the classroom, I would try to not give them 25,000 different things they can do to be more accessible to their, to their students, because that's just going to overwhelm people. So Joe really simplified it. And he's focuses on five major areas, which you'll hear in the interview.


Mai Ling 02:24

Yeah, I, I was shocked by that. We are a tech company, obviously. And there's so many things that you think about as necessities, but just to simplify it down to five was perfect, you know, just kind of makes it attackable as a web developer.


James Berges 02:38

Yeah, yeah. Like, keep it simple. So people don't get overwhelmed with too many things. But at the same time, these companies really need to address accessibility for their own sake, because they're missing out on a market. And also, they risk getting sued. Part of the issue I found was that, you know, the Americans with Disability Act was really solidified at a time before the internet was huge. So while it did address some of the issues or guidelines that people could incorporate into websites, it wasn't very extensive. So there's still a lot of gray area, and we're in this weird time where it's like, okay, the pandemic hit, everyone's online. This is definitely our second life. So how can we make it more accessible? Yeah, super interesting. Listen to the interview.


Mai Ling 03:24

 Excellent. So what else has been going on for you, James?


James Berges 03:28

 Let's see. Well, for me, personally, I'm most excited about talking to a couple people who are doing innovative things in the voice experience space. So I can't talk too much about the details of it, because it's still developing. But I'm excited. Basically, what I can tell you is that thinking about educational experiences and how we can make them more interactive with voice so think Amazon, Alexa, but write on your web browser, and think children in the classroom interacting with content or stories, and the story changing based on what they answer with their voice.


Mai Ling 04:06

That's interesting!


James Berges 04:07

You know, because so often kid's eyes glaze over when they're just listening to a lecture or still even a story. But if they're part of the story, and they're choosing how the story unfolds, well, that's way more engaging, so excited for that.


Mai Ling 04:20

I always love those choose your ending books.


James Berges 04:22

Yeah. Yeah. And then you want to go back and redo it and see what other ending could I get. In other news, I think we it's relevant to mention that Coda one best picture at the Oscars and Coda for those who are listening is stands for "Child of Deaf Adults". I actually still need to see the movie. But we might be interviewing a CODA, someone who is a sign language interpreter who was raised being able to speak verbally, but they're raised by deaf adults. So they learned sign language potentially as their first language. So it's an interesting whole culture.


Mai Ling 04:58

Yeah, yeah. I love it and I think I read that was like 35 years since Marley Maitland won the Golden Globe years ago, you know, for her movie. So it's been a long time since we have really spotlighted people who are deaf or have hearing issues in movies, right?


James Berges 05:14

Absolutely, and I think it was the first actor to win Best Actor was a deaf actor. So we're making history. It's exciting. Yes. And then one other thing I wanted to quickly mention that I thought was really cool. Sometimes may I go rock climbing at the rock climbing gym near me and I credit my girlfriend for getting me into that. She's better than I am. But that's an aside. The main thing I want to say is that I saw someone in a wheelchair have an assistive device. I'm not sure exactly what it's called. But they were able to rock climb, even though they were paraplegic, paralyzed from the waist down. It's just really cool to see like there's accessibility being innovated in places I never even thought about like rock climbing.


Mai Ling 06:02

Fantastic. Yes, I love it. Oh, that's great!


James Berges 06:05

That's me. What about you Mai Ling? I think you have something exciting to share.


Mai Ling 06:10

You know, it was actually interesting. I received a big book in the mail. And I was like, Oh, what this is and when I opened it, I realized it's something that I had worked on last year, it was spring of 2021. And my contribution was included as the first essay. In this new comprehensive AAC resource. It's called fundamentals of AAC, a case based approach to enhancing communication. It's been organized and compiled by Nerissa Hall, Jennifer Gentling Sub camp, Michelle Goodman, and Ellen Cohn, and they have 36 chapters and 20 essays contributed by coauthors. So it's available now on Amazon and plural publishing, you know, it’s just a tomb of information. So I'm really honored to have been included, there's so many names that I recognize, and several that I didn't, but it's up to date and I loved that there are all of these stories, you know, like real stories, sharing and bringing us into the future may see.


James Berges 07:02

Yeah, that's awesome. And I love that you say, stories are like, that's how we really ground this information that can sometimes feel dry. And that's another part of even Joe Devon's interview that you did with him. He says, we can get buy in from web developers, not by giving them a list of how to be more accessible, you know, here's 20 points. It's more like, here's this Microsoft commercial in the Super Bowl that shows an emotional story of a student who was not able to access their video games. And so like really tying it to the outcome, and the emotional part, you know, 90% of our decisions are unconscious and based on emotions. So I love that you're tying in the stories in the AAC community. Yeah. So before we get today's interview with Joe Devon, be sure to share this episode on social media, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your favorites, share it with one person who you know would get something out of it. There's lots of important and useful information about accessibility in this episode and feel free to connect with us directly at https://www.xceptionalleaders.com/ with any questions or recommendations for a great guest, we'd love to hear from you. And so without further ado, let's get to today's interview with Joe Devin.


Mai Ling 08:19

Great. All right, so I've waited a long time to get with Joe, Devon, CEO and co-founder of diamond. And to give you a little bit of backstory, as you know, I stalk my guests. It's actually a good term now. Right? So yeah, so I saw his report come out, I want to say almost two years ago now and we just haven't been able to get together and we said, why don't we wait for the next one. And I finally am catching up with him with his most recent third annual state of accessibility report, the SOAR report. It was just published in 2021. And it focuses on global accessibility on the web, digital products, all of that, and he is the perfect guest for us. So welcome, Joe.


Joe Devon 09:06

Thank you mai. It's a pleasure and it has been a little took a little time for us to get it all together. But I'm glad we finally got there.


Mai Ling 09:13

Yes, I'm talking with you is essential, because I think you are one of those people who has this eagle eye on everything that's going on and pulling it all together and making it succinct and having it makes sense. So there's so many questions I have for you. But I want you to know that when I reread this one in preparation for the interview, there are two quotes that I pulled out and I sent it to our executive tech team. And this is at the Xceptional learning so if it's okay with you, I'm gonna read them.


Joe Devon 09:40

Yes, of course.


Mai Ling 09:42

Okay, so the quote is, "All of these issues are readily preventable and fixable. They reflect a fundamental failure in use case development, and an inattention to design and usability best practices. Focusing on and fixing only these five issue types would result in significant accessibility and improvements for end users and quote." Poignant, just five and you know, honestly, when you look at your site, and you say, oh my gosh, you know, there's so much we need to do to be accessible. The tech team is just like, oh, I mean, you could do feel this like heaviness. Alright, I'm going to read one more, though, because I felt like this was essential. And I'm telling you, I sent these two quotes. The other one says "Owners of inaccessible websites are subject to lawsuits and formal complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act" mic drop. Right? Why do we need to do this? Because we have to because it is our responsibility it is, especially because we're an ed tech site, or we are a mental health site, or we are a site about disabilities. We have to do this. Okay, I'm gonna get off my soapbox now. So Joe, what got you into this? And what has you deep diving into these numbers?


Joe Devon 10:55

It's funny, I sometimes struggle with these questions, because they're, I could talk for like two hours to answer each of those, right? What got me into it, I'd say is similar to what many people are experiencing, have experienced will experience which is my dad, my beloved dad, he was in his mid-80s. And he was a survivor of the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau, he spoke 10 languages.


Mai Ling 11:22



Joe Devon 11:23

Was brilliant. I mean, brilliant. He knew he knew the Talmud, like a good chunk of it by heart. He knew the Bible by heart, the Hebrew Bible by heart, but he was as good at science, I would come out of math class, and I would forget what I learned that day and my dad would remember, and I wish I could say that, you know, now that I'm my dad's age at that time. No, I wouldn't remember that all. So he just almost had a photographic memory almost. And when he walked in the room, he didn't have to say a word. You knew this was somebody special and a man of substance and watching my dad, who always had great eyesight, lose, you know, start to lose a good chunk of his vision, and then lose most like half his hearing and it got even worse than that. Just being unable to bank and he felt unable to drive, he lost the ability to drive. And this was before, like, just Uber started to get there. It took them a day to get to the bank. And my dad had gotten fished. So he was scared, you know, and there was a message from the bank and he logged in and he couldn't access it, he couldn't see it and it was only because the bank was inaccessible and I was a web developer at the time working on https://abc.com/shows/american-idol/ and I was just so frustrated, I was always on the bleeding edge of tech and yet, here I am, in a field that should have been the solution. And it wasn't, it wasn't. And I realized that it wasn't that developers didn't care, because I myself had had a few years earlier, seem technical program manager over at Yahoo at the time. Now he's at Google. He's blind, he was showing Yahoo's homepage with a screen reader. And I was like, what? Yeah, I couldn't believe there was such a thing as a screen reader. And I thought, wow, this is amazing. But other developers just don't know about. And so we're messing things up on we're building the website. So I wrote a little blog post on my https://azure-sql.blogspot.com/, which by the domain name, you could probably tell has maybe had 10 visitors in its life, posing, creating GATT or global accessibility awareness today and to my shock, the site idea just took off and it goes viral every year. Just on this, I could tell you like crazy stories. But we started tracking it for a few years until we got to 200 million Twitter reached 200 million users on the hashtag and that was their daily user count. So we stopped even counting. Right?


Mai Ling 13:57

And that's in the summer, right? The actual day.


Joe Devon 13:59

Yeah, that's the third Thursday in May.


Mai Ling 14:01

Early spring, okay.


Joe Devon 14:02

Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, that's what kind of got me into this. In the meantime, with my co-founder of diamond, I met him working on American Idol and we had started a company and it took off, we had a pretty good rap internally over at Fox. And so they, they hired us, within two weeks, I was like, maybe we can get them as a client in a year or something. But it took a couple of weeks and then they gave us a lot of big projects that hit millions of users and so we took off, and then this GAAD thing is happening every year and everybody's asking me accessibility questions and I'm like, I just wrote a blog post, what do I know? So I had to learn accessibility, which eventually I was able to do and then it kind of married the two and that allows something like this sort report to happen, because otherwise you don't have a budget. What it really was, I mean, first genossen, my co-founder, Jonathan Asuncion, he was really a mentor to me to the accessibility space, he helped me navigate it without him, God would never have been what would never have been and it would never have been what it became. So he really helped me and then at a certain point, DEQ University came out and he said, Hey, this is a great course you should, you should take it or you should have your team take it. And I'm, like, crazy busy running a company. But I read every word of the entire course. Course. Yeah, took me eight months. But I said, I will never finish a day without at least doing one page and wow, or great.


Mai Ling 14:52

So you said you had to learn accessibility and we don't need a one on one into that. But what does that look like coming from not a within the disability community? And that's what I'm talking about the one on one. I mean, there really is a step by step. What are we talking about when we're saying that the web needs to be accessible, that buildings need to be accessible that you know, just everything? It's incredible.


Joe Devon 15:56

Yeah. Yeah. So that was really helpful there. There are some free tools as well. I think W3C has a free tutorial, you can learn as well with nobility, they run this access to you every year. So there are a lot of programs that that can help you get involved.


Mai Ling 16:14

So for our listener, rewind, write those points down, we are giving you absolute pearls. If you have your own website, and you are in the disability space, and if you're listening, then you must be. But these are things that you cannot overlook anymore. Because people like Joe Devon are just pushing us. You can't look away. It's in our face every day. So Joe, this report is in depth. It's fantastic. It's free. Can you tell us how we can get it?


Joe Devon 16:39

Yes, if you go to https://diamond.la/ forward slash soar so ar, which stands for state of accessibility report, then you can download it right there.


Mai Ling 16:49

Excellent. It was really easy. Just so you know, I didn't have to give away a lot of personal information and it's a PDF. It's an easy read charts, everything in there. What are the top things PDF? Thank you. What are the top things we need to know from here, Joe?


Joe Devon 17:04

Well, if you don't mind, let me just first explain what prompted creating the saw report, which was we had so many successes with GAAD we had Apple invited Stevie Wonder to their campus concert, Microsoft released the Xbox adaptive controller on the day and you might have seen their Super Bowl ad for it. We've had like the big tech companies change their homepage for the day. And the bank that was inaccessible, privately wrote me not knowing they were the inspiration for the day. By the third year, they said, you know, we need to improve our accessibility. So we're doing an internal event, don't tell anybody. And I never did, you know, mention their name. So that's just how big an impact it had. But then one year, there was the blind onion, which is a takeoff on the onion that basically is a satire site. And they said, Wow, now that global accessibility awareness day is over, we look forward to 364 days of global accessibility, oblivion. No. And so, you know, people told me Oh, don't you know, don't take the negativity, there will always be negative people. And I was like, No, I will take that negativity. Because this is obviously someone that is in pain. And I don't want to create I just seen, have you heard of the movie? Pink ribbons?


Mai Ling 18:23



Joe Devon 18:24

So pink ribbons was a movie about the cancer, the breast cancer movement, where they would have pink ribbons one day a year to commemorate raise all this money. And a lot of a lot of companies were doing like chemical testing for cosmetics. And so there they were theorizing that of so first of all, all this money is going through all these companies are talking about it. And then at the end of it, breast cancer rates don't get better. I think they even got worse and then they called it pink washing. And so I was like, Oh my God, I don't I don't want GAAD to be like a pink washing movement. So I really need to understand, first of all, where are we create a baseline. And that was the purpose of the first report. And then it took like three years to kind of get trends because I wanted to know, what is the trend? Are we getting somewhere and if we don't achieve an improvement on a yearly basis, then we got to do something about it. So that was the genesis of it. And I think it's important for you to understand that before looking at the report.


Mai Ling 19:26

Thanks for taking us back there, Joe. We totally appreciate that and it's really important to understand, you know where you've come from in terms of building all of this.


Mai Ling [Sponsor Ad] 19:35

If you're like me, you can't get enough of books, podcasts, blogs, and other ways to find out how to create, grow and scale. That's why are brought together 43 disability focus leaders to give you more of what you're looking for. You will hear their stories and three bestselling books which focus on general offerings, augmentative and alternative communication and speech language pathology. I invite you to search for becoming an https://www.xceptionalleaders.com/ on Amazon. So you can learn intimate startup pearls of wisdom, and keep growing your brilliant idea.


Mai Ling 20:06

Now let's get back to our amazing interview. So now that you're putting out this report annually, what are the top points or areas that you want us to focus on?


Joe Devon 20:16

Okay, I would say you can't talk about sore with also mentioning the web a million who collaborated with us initially with their report. And their report shows that 97% of the top million websites are inaccessible.


Mai Ling 20:32



Joe Devon 20:33

Yeah. So


Mai Ling 20:35

Can I ask when you say the top million, what are some examples?


Joe Devon 20:38

I don't know, the actual domains, I don't think that they specifically call out specific companies. But what they do have an automated checker. So in the automated checker, they went for the, I think they use the Lexan, maybe another, another company's top million websites, and they just did an automated scan of them. And that was what they found. And it went something like the first year 97 97.6, or point eight, and then it went up to 98.1. And then it went down to 97 and a half. And there were a lot of errors per page, they ranged from 50 to 60. And it was kind of going up and down. And for me, like the goal, again, was to get a trend. And you can't really get a trend back off of the top million. Because the reality is there's too many too many issues. So on our end, we manually tested the top 100, the Alexa top 100. And from there, what we saw was that 29% of the websites in the top 100 were inaccessible. 62% were like accessible, basically without difficulty. And what I mean by that this was a screen reader testing, and the 9% was accessible with difficulty. And what we mean by that is, we tested the registration, login and logout. Because if you're you there are a lot of websites that put in all this effort and claim that they're accessible. And then they neglect their registration page or their login. And so then a screen reader user comes in, and they can't even register a login. So it's all a wasted effort if you don't have that piece. So we take we took that as just one sample. And from there, what happened is a screen reader user might go in without any difficulty when it's done very accessibly. They just tab through, they put in whatever, and you know, their name, their email address, and hit submit. But there are some sites where it's not labeled quite right, they have to mess around a little bit in order to log in. So those are kind of common patterns. So we looked at both of those. And when they were able without any difficulty, we're calling that accessible and then accessible with difficulty. So we're at 62%, accessible, 9% accessible with difficulty. And if you want to compare that as a trend, it got much, much better in the top 100 websites, because in 2019, that number was 29% 40%. And then 62%. Right? So it's really significant numbers. And I'd say part of what caused the improvement is that some apps left the top 100. And some came in. So you have collaboration tools like zoom, or teams or Google meet that came in and they added accessible services like closed captioning, because you had all of these people that were stuck at home that used to go to school or to businesses and the accessibility services that were built up over decades and decades were gone overnight. And so there was a massive demand for accessibility. And so we believe that part of that is is a reason for part of the improvement. But part of it is also that the top companies have actually spent some effort and money in order to make things accessible. And that for me is a huge relief. Because again, I did the SOAR report because I didn't want the accessibility version of pink washing. So the top tech companies are celebrating, they're showing the things they've done, but they're actually putting their money where their mouth is. So thank God for that. I'm very happy to see that.


Mai Ling 23:06

And thanks to you. It makes me think of big companies like Apple and Verizon where they have done so much work in terms of being accessible with their products. Now, is this the big test? Is their website also accessible?


Joe Devon 24:23

Yeah, so what I was discussing here was just the website. We hadn't done any mobile testing yet. And so we also took from the Google Play Store and the apple app store their top apps. And we found something very interesting there as well. So first of all, they were better than we were tend to tended to see on the web. And then iOS and Android traded like the number one and two spot depending on what we tested. You know, we did like free mobile app testing with screen readers and it was like 65 accessible from iOS 75 accessible for Android. But then it flipped depending on what we were testing. But one thing that really came out of all of this is that the free apps did way better than the paid apps. And we're like scratching our heads. Why? Why is that? And then as we started to look at the companies that were providing the paid apps, even though they were a top app, they were not a really big company, they tended to be small companies that just had one successful product. And so they didn't have the budgets of the other companies. So what we're really seeing is that accessibility is getting better every year, but only for like the big tech companies, the big top companies. And as soon as you go, one tear down, it's not really there. And probably the fortune 500 is also similar problem. So that's where the next step is really focusing on the on the fortune 500 companies. And I'd like to touch on the legal thing, if I may, as well. The Department of Justice just issued guidelines, stating that the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990, before the web really took off. And so people were questioning does the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to the web? And they did say clearly, it does apply to the web. And they gave a few cases of companies that got sued for not being accessible. And then they did say that wick had the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, is a really good reference in order to make your website accessible, it wasn't as strong as we would have liked, I would have liked to see a full blown ruling. Because right now, it's murky. Companies are getting sued, and they come up with a defense and now the courts have been ruling against anybody that doesn't make it accessible, that you can understand when a business gets a murky guidance, they're going to try to get away with spending less money.


Mai Ling 26:47

Absolutely. So for our audience is typically not the top 500. I would love it to be but most of us are people that are doing it, you know, with our own bankroll, you know, we may have some investors, we may have a tech team like myself, we do have a tech team in place. But then there's people that are using the plug and play. So WordPress, Wix, Go Daddy. So how does that work in terms of having your website being accessible and up to standards?


Joe Devon 27:13

For that one, I would definitely look at web ame millions report because they break down which technologies work better and which work worse, I believe, don't quote me, but I believe Wix does a pretty good job. But WordPress, I do know some of the people working on it like Joe Dolson, they've got an accessibility plugin, that's actually good, because not all plugins are good. And if you start with an accessible template, there are definitely issues with WordPress, WordPress changed their CMS to have a Gutenberg part on the CMS that I don't know if they fixed all the problems. But when it came out, it certainly had accessibility problems. But if you go for the older CMS that's not Gutenberg, that is pretty accessible on the admin side. And then in terms of the template on the front end side, if you just pick an accessible template, and there are plenty to choose from, you'll do pretty well.


Mai Ling 28:03

Okay, so we are going to be telling our tech teams to take a listen, we're going to be sharing this, is there anything else that we need to let our tech teams know especially if we are using these third party platforms.


Joe Devon 28:14

I would really suggest that everybody asked their web developer, like start asking for accessibility, because the place that it has to changes in the culture of web and mobile app development. And to that end, we've launched the GAAD foundation last year. And that's our mission is to disrupt the culture of digital product creation so that it becomes accessible by default. So please ask them to make it accessible and teach them that you make better products. If you make it accessible. It really is about usability.


Mai Ling 28:48

Yeah, let me ask you, do we have to take a step back and teach them what accessibility is? Or do we just give them a list of things that it needs to be able to do, for example, interface? Well, with a screen reader, you know, we have a lot of like, drop down menus, like how do we help them to ramp up with their understanding?


Joe Devon 29:06

The best way I think would be to show a video of a screen reader user or some assistive technology user are you know what, you know what really gets it, I can explain to a developer till I'm blue in the face. But when I show them that Microsoft Super bowl commercial, like, I've seen it so many times, and it's still, you know, chokes me up when I see it. Because this is not about like in that commercial, you have these kids that couldn't gain before and now they can gain. They do not want anybody's pity. They don't want to be anybody's inspiration. All they want us to be able to play the games, right? So these are users on the other end. They're people they're human beings who cannot use the product because you're not good at your craft. And I'm sorry to be so straight up. But that's what it is. If you're a web developer or designer and you do not know things like if you use let's say you're building a chat app you use a green button to denote online a red button to denote offline, that you have millions and millions of colorblind users who just see gray and gray, all you have to do is add the word online and offline to that color. And then all of a sudden you have it accessible. This is on you. And if you do not know that this is what you should do, that means you're not that good at your craft, right? Whenever I speak to a designer like that the light bulb goes off. Right? So those are the kinds of things that you can share. It's really about perspective and seeing it from somebody else's perspective.


Mai Ling 30:34

Yes, user stories have been just priceless. In talking to tech teams, it just really is instead of giving them all of these words, you know, actually seeing your product in use. By any chance, do you know the title of that Super bowl advertisement that you're referring to? Because then we can just google it pretty easily.


Joe Devon 30:52

Google Xbox adaptive controller.


Mai Ling 30:55

Perfect. Thank you so much. I have another question. You talked about putting text there. Obviously, we're working with screen readers. What about symbols? You know, for a long time we've been working with like flat graphics, and all of these cool, trendy things. And what do you think about that?


Joe Devon 31:10

You should add the word to it as well, at least like in all text, right? If you add a label to it, then it can be understood.


Mai Ling 31:18

Excellent. And can you I know it all Texas, but can you expand for our listeners, I know it's everywhere, like even on Twitter, and Instagram, and, and all of that.


Joe Devon 31:26

So if you have a picture, imagine if you're if you're blind, and you're looking, you're reading Twitter, and then instead of writing out a word, you're using emoji’s that kind of look like a letter, a screen reader basically reads those out. And the screen reader is just going to show angry, sad, happy, but it's not going to, it's not going to spell out the word that you try to symbolize on your tweet. And then if you have a picture, and you provide an alt text, or you describe the picture, then that experience works for people who are blind. And that's what alt text is.


Mai Ling 32:02

Excellent. And it's becoming just pervasive because I'm seeing it everywhere. And when we first started seeing it, it was like, what, what am I reading? Because sometimes you do see it, it's not hidden in the code, you know, you'll see it actually on the screen. But now I think people are, we're just reading past it for that, for those of us who don't need it.


Joe Devon 32:18

Yes, there was an interesting day when Amazon Web Services, or imager, or some that was some big service, where all these images were coming from. And on social media, one of the big social media companies, it all the pictures went down. And when the picture is not loading, the alt text shows up on that particular screen. And so everybody was basically a screen reader user that day, and it opened a lot of eyes to Oh, okay, this is why we need to do OB techs.


Mai Ling 32:49

Excellent. Well, you shared that your you had a very personal story with your dad in starting this. And that's what I have found, in all of my work with amazing leaders like yourself in the disability space, have you included your dad in your work now,


Joe Devon 33:03

Unfortunately he passed away he only saw one guy. So he's the inspiration for everything. And every time I do a podcast or a talk, I always incorporate my dad. And the ninth GAAD, I dedicated to my mom who had just gone in hospice and a half an hour later, she passed away. And what what I what I just say is my mom wouldn't have wanted my dad to get all the attention for God. And she had dementia. So she we understood, we understood very well other aspects of accessibility from from my mom's side. And so my mom is forever, as much a part of it as my dad.


Mai Ling 33:42

Beautiful. Thank you so much. I love that when we can bring up our parents, you know, into the work that we do. And we can thank them because it's from their absolute amazing foundations that we build on.


Joe Devon 33:51



Mai Ling 33:52

Beautiful. Alright, Joe, is there anything that you're up to right now that you want us to be taking a look at? Or how can we stay in touch with you?


Joe Devon 33:59

Well, we're working on the next soar report. As we speak, I'm really excited for it. We've had lots of learnings. So I don't want to ruin any surprise. But if we can afford what we're thinking about, it's going to be really, really cool. And you can reach me at you can just hit the Contact Us button on https://diamond.la/ or you can go to Twitter. I'm https://twitter.com/joedevon (@joedevon) on basically all social media. So LinkedIn, you know, I'm trying to be less active on those on the addictive social media sites, but you'll still see me plenty on Twitter.


Mai Ling 34:35

Sounds good and do you have the May date for this year?


Joe Devon 34:35

May 19.


Mai Ling 34:40

Alright! Well thank you so much we really appreciate all the work that you're doing Joe, we'll keep watching for that report every year we hope that those numbers keep getting better.


Joe Devon 34:47

Yes, thank you! I appreciated the opportunity!


Mai Ling 34:52

We hope you enjoyed this episode and invite you to leave us a review on Apple podcasts and Spotify and share the show with people you think will find value find it. This helps the show a lot for have a great guest referral, reach out to us at xleaders@gmail.com.


James Berges 35:07

And if you want exclusive tips on becoming an exceptional leader delivered straight to your inbox, just go to https://www.xceptionalleaders.com/ and sign up for our mailing list. Thanks for listening!

Joe DevonProfile Photo

Joe Devon

Joe is a serial entrepreneur who has been fostering the growth of the Los Angeles tech ecosystem since 2008. His experience includes co-founder at Diamond, an inclusive digital agency and co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). In 2019 Joe and the Diamond team launched their first State of Accessibility Report. When Joe is not solving
technology challenges for major organizations, you can find him on stage influencing every developer and corporation to build their digital products with inclusive design in mind.