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Shifting the mindset on accessibility at Trade Me

How to share knowledge and grow awareness around accessibility.

This is the second of three articles about our journey growing a culture of accessibility at Trade Me. For tips on getting started, see ‘Growing a culture of accessibility at Trade Me’.

After understanding a bit more about our users’ needs and making some progress towards a more inclusive product, we started working towards getting buy-in from our peers. If we want this to be the way we do things at Trade Me, how can we keep the momentum up and get more people involved? What’s missing?

Shifting mindset

Shifting a company’s mindset might feel like moving a large boulder.

Trade Me’s Maz Hermon created a presentation on ‘Enabling people to care about accessibility’ which contains helpful tips on how to do this.

Understanding our company

One of our initiatives was to create a survey to gauge the level of interest, knowledge and experience from our employees, so we knew what would be the best way to keep up the momentum and empower more people to get involved.

The questions we asked in the survey were:

The survey was answered by 97 people. We had responses from developers, designers, testers, delivery managers and product owners, and the results were as diverse as the number of participants.

The results showed us that people have different ideas around what accessibility means to them, and although eager to learn more, most people seem to face a barrier of not knowing where to find resources or how to start.

Forming a grassroots movement

Should we create an accessibility guild? How can we make sure we are sharing knowledge and growing employees’ awareness around accessibility?

Following the survey, we set up an open meeting for anyone to join where we presented the results from this survey and came up with our next steps.

The meeting was split into two 2-hour blocks, structured around four main questions:

The Post-it notes were grouped by themes and put up on the walls.

The participants wrote Post-it notes which were then grouped through an affinity map exercise into six main actionable themes:

We then created a shared document with a total of 21 action points, and participants put their names down as ‘responsible for’ and/or ‘keen to be involved’. The action points covered things like contacting users, organising workshops, writing to the executive team, and organising an event for Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Hackfest

16 May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) — a day when people all over the globe get together to create awareness about accessibility and ways of making products, services and experiences more inclusive. We saw this as a brilliant opportunity to affect change that would continue beyond the event and on to the long journey ahead of us.

Following the initial meeting, a group of 10 of us got together and organised a day of activities for Trade Me teams. This consisted of a couple of technical and theoretical presentations in the morning, and the afternoon for teams to find and fix bugs, create new features, research, or just learn together. We had 90 participants, across three different cities.

Shifting the mindset on accessibility at Trade Me GAAD 2019

2019 GAAD at Trade Me’s office. Having meetings in open spaces is a good way of attracting more people to join.

At the end of the day, we got together and went through presentations of what we learnt and what new features we could build into our website. These are some examples of what we achieved:

The day was successful in spreading awareness internally. Seeing our people get involved and feel happy about their achievements and improvements for our members reassured us that we’re heading in the right direction. By the end of 2019, we had applied some of the outcomes to our product roadmaps. We’re continuing with the initiatives we have underway and also organising activities for 2020 GAAD.

There’s still more work to be done, but so far these initiatives have delivered some progress for us at Trade Me. We hope you’ve got some ideas around how you can shift the mindset on accessibility at your own company.

This is the second of three articles about our journey growing a culture of accessibility at Trade Me. In the next article, we’ll share how we are working to make the case for accessibility.

Originally posted on Maria’s Medium page

Senior Product Designer at Trade Me

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