Launching Accessibility in IT

Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion

In June, IDEAL IT launched Accessibility in IT, a new community-based program focused on allyship, awareness, and accountability around digital accessibility at Stanford. Led by Sean Keegan, director of Stanford’s Office of Digital Accessibility, the aim is to build a community in which colleagues can share, discuss, and explore the intersection of technology, accessibility, and inclusion.

“The focus of this Accessibility in IT community is not one of merely being compliant,” Sean explained, “but how we can be taking proactive steps and make proactive choices in creating, developing and adopting accessible technology solutions.” 

Creating an inclusive digital space–instead of merely focusing on meeting minimum standards–was the focus of discussion with special guests Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion, co-founders of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD’s mission is to change the culture of software development and to get people talking and learning about digital access and inclusion broadly.

Awareness and normalization of accessibility

Throughout the conversation, Joe and Jennison reiterated the importance of normalizing conversations around accessibility. They explained how the lack of knowledge or first-hand experience with disability can make it uncomfortable for some folks to talk about. 

“Part of it is just making it okay for anyone to ask the question,‘what are we doing for accessibility?’ We want people to feel like they are empowered to at least ask the question,” Jennison said.

Accessibility in design, development, and engineering

Jennison shed light on the need for awareness and understanding of accessibility in product and service development, as well as the faulty approach many developers and engineers often take when creating or designing a product or service. He explained the unconscious tendency people have to design for themselves and solely consider how they would use a piece of technology. 

“I personally want people to see accessibility as something innovative and something that is furthering engineering practice,” he said. 

Jennison then discussed the power of letting developers and engineers see the impact of an inaccessible experience first-hand, rather than merely showing them a report. He described it as “building that empathy muscle” to allow a team of engineers, designers, product managers, etc. to watch a product or service they’ve designed, funded, and executed be rendered unusable because of an accessibility issue.

Building the right team

Joe talked about the significance of building a team, which not only consists of people with disabilities, but of people who truly care about the mission. He spoke about how to cultivate an accessibility-focused organization and how that can attract a team of people who care about their craft. It can also foster a culture of accessibility and inclusion. 

“It's up to folks like you to make sure that the next generation will have that as part of the culture, but for now you really have to hire people who have it in their hearts and minds to do this the right way. Then you're going to build an amazing team who will do everything in an accessible way by default,” Joe said.

Learn more and get involved

Accessibility in IT is just getting started. If you would like to get involved in this community, please contact Program Lead Sean Keegan at

View the Accessibility in IT Launch Event featuring Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon:

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