Accessibility Q and A with Brandon Bilfield
We were recently given the opportunity to talk all things accessibility to with @bbilfield! Accessibility is a big priority to us; we hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at what we're doing to keep it at the center of all we build at MURAL. As you continue reading, we turn things over to you and ask: What accessibility features would you like to see MURAL implement?
More on that later- read on to learn more from Brandon!
Let's cover the basics- why is MURAL investing in accessibility?
BB: The first and primary reason is because we see accessibility as a fundamental right and aim to bridge the collaboration gap in our remote working world. An inaccessible product would exclude a major segment of people who want to use our product but would or could not.
Removing those barriers ensures we are being true to the idea that accessibility is a fundamental right.
The second reason: accessibility is an organizational driver for many companies that use our product. Accessibility has fortunately come into focus for organizations in recent years. Like MURAL, it’s a requirement for themselves and their vendors to comply with accessibility best practices and standards.
So how do we make sure we are meeting these needs? By having a clear roadmap for our accessibility program, conducting regular audits and updates to our ACR, and working directly with our users as partners to understand how to enhance the usability of our experience for people with disabilities.
Good to know! When you were prioritizing accessibility functions, how did you think about organizing the work?
From an accessibility workstream perspective we have three buckets that work falls into and then is prioritized. Our three accessibility workstreams are compliance, accessible UX, and enablement. We break these workstreams down into the following type of work.
- For compliance, we prioritize all work that is directly linked to WCAG compliance and conduct recurring WCAG audits throughout the product. We created and update our Voulentary Product Accessibility Template or VPAT to generate a public ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) as well. Most importantly, remediation work is required as an outcome of our WCAG audit. These are the building blocks to a more accessible (and compliant) MURAL.
- For accessible UX, we prioritize accessibility product work that goes beyond what WCAG outlines. Because of the unique nature of our product, it is inherently inaccessible. Being a visual, asynchronous, non-linear collaborative tool that can change in unpredictable ways at any time creates a perfect storm for features that were historically created inaccessibly. As a result, WCAG will only get us so far, and the unique accessibility challenges with our product extend far beyond the boundaries of the guidelines WCAG provides. These are the most important problems to solve- not only product compliance, but making the MURAL experience frictionless and enjoyable for all users as well.
- For enablement, we empower others within MURAL to do accessibility- our team realizes we can’t do this without everyone. We've defined an entire workstream to create programs and support teams across our organization that helps them to shift accessibility left and integrate accessibility into all of the things that they are doing.
What is one thing from last year's work at MURAL that has made MURAL more accessible and you are the most proud of?
A lot of different things stick out. Obviously the keyboard & screen reader support in our canvas is a huge first step to opening up our product to all users. I would say two others stick out in my mind as things I look back on and am very proud of.
- The first one is the Design System + Accessibility team’s 11 days of GAAD (Global Accessibility Awareness Day). Our team put together 11 days of content to build awareness and spread the love around accessibility. We hosted daily events such as “no mouse Monday”, company-wide accessibility quizzes, creating an accessibility pledge for our new hire onboarding, and ending with a keynote speech during our all hands by Christine Hemphill. It was a really fun and exciting 11 days of events to put together and the impact and excitement around what we were doing could be felt throughout the organization.
- The second one is adding the feature in our product to have human readable color names for when a user is selecting a color within our product. Specifically within our color picker. Not having this was a clear failure of WCAG 1.4.1. It may seem like a small feature. It had a huge impact which we heard loud and clear from our community. This was one of the most requested additions to our product through our community message boards, and we received really great feedback from users who had challenges differentiating colors without any labels.
Thanks, Brandon for stopping by! To our members: What accessibility features would you like to see MURAL implement?