This series of interviews is designed to explore the many paths that leaders in accessibility have followed to get to where they are today. 

The People Behind the Progress

Welcome to a look into the work and background of the personalities who are helping to make digital products and services more accessible.

Accessibility is a robust field of practice with an enormous existing knowledge base. That creates an extraordinary opportunity for build off past efforts. It can also seem overwhelming to those who are new to this work. This series of interviews is designed to explore the many paths that leaders in accessibility have followed to get to where they are today. The series is available as a videocast on YouTube and an audio podcast available on most podcast apps.

photo of host Joe WelinskeYour series host is Joe Welinske. Joe is the Accessibility Director at Blink – an evidence-driven design agency headquartered in Seattle. As Director, Joe helps Blink’s practitioners to build accessibility into everything they do. He also evangelizes the need for accessibility with Blink’s clients and partners. Joe serves on the King County Metro Paratransit Advisory Committee. He also is a co-organizer of the Seattle Accessibility and Inclusive Design Meetup group.

Season 1


Episode 1 with Whitney Quesenbery, Center for Civic Design, Author of a Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences

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Whitney Quesenbery talks about her career encompassing user research and the design of vote-casting. She describes the influences for the role-based format of her book A Web for Everyone.

Episode 2 with Bryce Johnson, Microsoft, Co-Inventor of the Xbox Adaptive Controller

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Bryce talks about his early work building web pages and how that led to accessibility consulting and his current work with console gaming.

Episode 3 with Reginé Gilbert, NYU, Assistant Professor

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Reginé talks about growing up with a family member who is deaf and taking that awareness into her UX studies and the digital accessibility community. She describes her research evaluating the accessibility associated with immersive technologies.

Episode 4 with Matthew Luken, U.S. Bank, Vice President – Digital Accessibility

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Matthew talks about his work teaching and building the accessibility team at US Bank. He describes his career in aviation which brought him into system engineering and then into web design and user experience.

Episode 5 with Kisiah Timmons, Yahoo, Principal Technical Program Manager

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Kisiah talks about going blind right after finishing college and the significant challenges of gaining employment at that time. She describes her work to improve support for assistive technologies in a variety mobile devices, tablets, and the associated apps.

Episode 6 with Jon Gunderson, U. of Illinois, Coordinator of Accessible IT Group

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Jon relates an interesting history about the pioneering support for accessibility at the U. of Illinois. He talks about building out technologies for students and faculty at the university and also his work with the W3C ARIA working group.

Episode 7 with Lori Samuels, NBCUniversal, Accessibility Director

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Lori talks about her early exposure to the discrimination her disabled sister experienced in school. She describes her professional introduction to accessibility working with consumer multimedia software and then helping to build the accessibility program at Intuit.

Episode 8 with Sheri Byrne-Haber, Vmware, All-Around Evangelist

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Sheri and her daughter have disabilities and that provided a launching point for advocacy for accessibility. She brought that interest into her work as a software tester and now building out the comprehensive internal and external accessibility programs at VMWARE.

Episode 9 with Blake Geyen, People First of Washington, Accessibility Advocate

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Blake talks about his personal challenges from cerebral palsy and how that informs his consulting and advocacy work.

Episode 10 with Ashley Firth, Octopus Energy, Author of Practical Web Inclusion & Accessibility

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Ashley talks about his early experience as a web developer – trying to find the resources to build accessible products. He describes his efforts to recruit team members for the effort and how those experiences contributed to the writing of his book.

Season 2

Episode 1 with Pat Kogos, U. of Chicago, Director, Digital Accessibility

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Pat talks about her first work with accessibility as a college student and how she rediscovered it in her work as a writer. She describes how accessibility is supported in her current position as Director of Digital Accessibility at the University of Chicago.

Episode 2 with Ted Drake, Intuit, Global Accessibility Leader

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Ted talks about his early work in web development and how that led to building a program of Accessibility for engineers at Yahoo Finance. That led to his current position at Intuit where he brings accessibility into the customer experience across all their products and services.

Episode 3 with Karli Yeoman, Expedia, Senior Accessibility Engineer

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Karli Yeoman talks about her foundation background as a web developer. She describes the approach at Expedia for helping teams and individuals to bring accessibility into their project work.

Episode 4 with Jack Nicolai, Adobe, Senior Product Manager, Accessibility

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Jack Nicolai talks about his experience working as a web developer in eLearning and then with accessibility at Starbucks. Now at Adobe, he describes how the company continues to build accessibility into their tools so that customers of all abilities are able to have an equitable experience.

Episode 5 with Lucy Greco, U. California – Berkeley, Electronic Accessibility Expert

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Lucy Greco talks about always being a technology nerd and early adopter who is totally blind. Her first computer – an Apple IIe – transformed her ability to be successful with schoolwork. She started helping others during her college years, into consulting, and now back in the academic environment. She describes her work at UC Berkeley making sure the wide variety digital assets are accessible to all.

Episode 6 with Chetan Bakhru, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Sr Accessibility Specialist

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Chetan Bakhru talks about the challenges of his early education as someone who was born totally blind. The emergence of accessible technologies made it possible for him to be independent in his studies and lead him into software engineering. His continued interest in technology and helping others brought him to the National Industries for the Blind and consulting at Level Access. Now he works for JP Morgan Chase coaching and guiding product teams on how to meet accessibility requirements.

Episode 7 with Natalie Patrice Tucker, Spotify, Senior Accessibility Lead

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Natalie Patrice Tucker talks about her early work as a political organizer in Washington, DC. She found her way into accessibility, first through work at the federal government, then into independent consulting. She talks about improving her skills through reading, networking, finding mentors, and conferences like CSUN. Now she is leading the effort at Spotify to make the experience delightful for all abilities.

Episode 8 with Ricardo Rodriguez, Independent Accessibility Consultant

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Ricardo Rodriguez talks about the challenges of growing up with extreme visual, mobility and cognitive challenges. He describes how a support system helped him adjust to those challenges and made it possible to become a professional accessibility practitioner.

Episode 9 with Nicole Bergstrom, Hilton, Senior Director of Digital Accessibility

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Nicole Bergstrom talks about her first exposure to accessibility while working in the federal government. She describes her move to Hilton and how they are building accessibility into all the touchpoints of their customers for digital services.

Episode 10 with Andrew Hayward, Twitter, Accessibility Engineer

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Andrew Hayward talks about discovering accessibility in his early years as a web developer. He describes his path that weaved through Mozilla and most recently found him helping to set up an emerging accessibility team at Twitter.

Season 3

Episode 1 with Jen Devins, Google, Head Accessibility UX

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Jen talks about her journey into user experience and design and then an opportunity to work with accessibility. She considered accessibility from a UX perspective as a champion of the user. Jen describes how research helped to develop training to create more awareness about the need for accessibility.

Episode 2 with Zack Kline, iSoftStone, Software Test Engineer II

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Zack talks about his work as an accessibility tester and his unique perspective as a person who is totally blind. His love of technology helps him solve issues with the accessible content he relies on. He describes the tools he prefers including his Mac, iPhone and refreshable braille display.

Episode 3 with Joanne Lastort, Booz Allen Hamilton, Digital Accessibility Specialist

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Joanne talks about her first career as a professional pastry chef. The loss of use one of her hands moved her to working in IT. Her desire to still be a keyboard user brought her into accessibility testing at the IRS and the FCC. Now she is part of the Section 508 team at Booz Allen Hamilton at the Department of Labor.

Episode 4 with Glen Walker, TIAA, Principal Accessibility Architect

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Glen talks about his early years as a software engineer and his personal interest in keyboard support. This lead him to accessibility work that included solving screen reader issues and compliance with Section 508 and WCAG. In his consulting work he continues to help other developers by sharing knowledge in a variety of ways.

Episode 5 with Poornima Subramanian, Princess Cruises, Sr. Digital Accessibility SME

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Poornima talks about learning on the job about disabilities and getting started as a tester with assistive technologies. She moved into the role of subject matter expert and assisted developers to understand what was relevant to their role. Her work at Holland America merges digital accessibility with a user experience that takes place in the physical world of a cruise.

Episode 6 with Christopher Land, Oracle, Senior Accessibility Technical Program Manager

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Chris started out in web development and was first exposed to accessibility working for the University of Michigan. That led to accessibility consulting work at Deque and Level Access where he learned from a great team of experts and did a lot of training. Now he is Senior Accessibility Technical Program Manager at Oracle.

Episode 7 with Lainey Feingold, Author, Negotiator, Lawyer, Speaker at Law Office of Lainey Feingold

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Lainey describes her career as a legal advocate for people with disabilities. She talks about her process of structured negotiation to foster change without litigation.

Episode 8 with Jeremy Katherman, USAA, Lead Accessibility Advisor

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Jeremy talks about his early work with accessibility through tech support at his university. After that he has enjoyed a lengthy career at USAA where he helped build an accessibility team that supports activities throughout the organization.

Episode 9 with Julie Romanowski, State Farm, Senior Digital Accessibility Specialist

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Starting out as a web developer, Julie is now supports a wide range of accessibility activities with State Farm. She takes about the efforts to help executive leadership understand the need for a digital accessibility team. Her team provides training and individual teams work on accessibility for their own roles. That include a focus on communication documents and video media.

Episode 10 with Richard Morton, Head of Accessibility for Government, UK Central Digital and Data Office

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Richard talks about his early work with usability testing that also exposed him to the opportunities working with accessibility. He describes the community and knowledge-sharing in the UK. Now he works for the UK Digital and Data Office where the team support accessibility in government organizations.

Season 4

Episode 1 with Marie Van Driessche, Unc, UX Designer

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Marie Van Driessche helps her organization’s clients understand the importance of accessibility in their web sites and apps. She shared her own experience with the many accessibility issues specific to being deaf.

Episode 2 with Ken Nakata, Converge Accessibility, Principal

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Ken Nakata helps law firms and corporation understand web accessibility issues. His career began in the Department of Justice working on the original Americans with Disability Act legislation and litigation. When Section 508 appeared, Ken started working in that area and spent a long time in that digital accessibility effort.

Episode 3 with Rachael Bradley Montgomery, Library of Congress, Digital Accessibility Specialist

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Rachael Montgomery talks about her work as the co-chair of the W3C’s Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and her charity work in supporting accessibility for small community organizations. In her work at the Library of Congress, she help create accessible experiences for employees and patrons. She talks about her own challenge with having a chemical sensitivity disability.

Episode 4 with Cam Beaudoin, CIBC, Senior Manager of Accessibility

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Cam Beaudoin is the Senior Manager of Accessibility for a financial institution in Canada. He started as a developer at a consulting company and was immediately charged with understanding the WCAG. That led to his current position as well as consulting, speaking engagements, and his own accessibility podcast. Cam describes a bit about regulatory compliance in Canada. He also talks about the importance of melding our work with business goals, design systems, and metrics.

Episode 5 with Sarah Horton, University of Southampton, Research Fellow

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Sarah Horton is currently a research fellow at the U. of Southhampton working on a study about the teaching of accessibility. Her career began by working with instructional technology in academic circles and the led to her work in web development. She was part of the staff in the early days of The Paciello Group, contributing to audits, design reviews, and usability studies. Along the way she has written many books.

Episode 6 with Rajesh Kalidindi, independent, Accessibility & User Experience Consultant

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Rajesh Kalidindi enables individuals and corporations through his accessibility consultancy by providing training, comprehensive validations, VPATs, usability studies, empathy workshops, etc. He began as a multimedia designer and moved into UX. Joining Microsoft, Rajesh found a passion for inclusive experiences that lead to learning about standards and observing users’ challenges in usability studies. He enjoys presenting at conferences.

Episode 7 with Miriam Nabinger, independent, Accessibility Specialist

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Miriam Nabinger began her work career at IBM where she first became aware of accessibility. She decided to study accessibility and make that the focus of her work. That led to her starting her own accessibility consulting practice. She talks about the current status of accessibility in Austria and the need to create more awareness.

Episode 8 with Thomas Wlodkowski, Comcast, Vice President, Accessibility

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Currently, leading the accessibility program at Comcast. Tom’s team supports both employee-facing or customer-facing accessibility. He shares his experience being blind from birth and finding his way into the media world through radio at WPOP in Boston. That led to work with audio descriptions, policy-making for accessible media and then a position at AOL as director of accessibility.