Using technology to enable all – Arran Smith – Ep98

Back in October 2018, I attended Microsoft’s Future Decoded event in London, the presentation that stayed with me the most was from Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer.

Jenny, who is herself deaf, spoke with great enthusiasm and passion about how the work Microsoft is doing with accessibility technology was changing people’s lives. As a technology enthusiast, I love to see how technology impacts the world around us, however, nothing is more inspirational than seeing how technology can literally change lives allowing people the opportunity to achieve their potential by enabling them to do something that previously they couldn’t.

It’s been a subject I’ve wanted to explore on the podcast ever since and this week I finally got the chance as I’m joined by Arran Smith, an accessibility consultant, to discuss how and why we need to make accessibility a core part of our technology strategy.

a picture of Arran Smith

Arran himself suffers from Dyslexia and discusses how rather than hold him back it has been his inspiration to develop his own successful career. We discuss how technology plays its part in levelling the playing field for people with disabilities and how it can allow people to properly fulfil their potential.

We discuss why we need a focus and strategy around accessibility and why this shouldn’t be based on “having too” because of legislative demands, but how we need to look at accessibility as an enabler and one that can deliver significant benefit to not only individuals but to the wider organisation.

Arran shares why an accessibility strategy is about making adjustments to ensure that everyone can fully contribute and realising that although a disability may impair an individual in one way, it is often compensated by them having a real strength in a different area and helping them to exploit that strength.

We explore the changing technology landscape and the part cloud services are playing in providing easier access to more powerful tools for everyone. We finish up by discussing how as an organisation can build a successful enablement strategy, be open with your policies and ensure you have a culture that embraces accessibility to provide an environment for everyone to thrive.

This topic if one of the most inspiring I’ve had the pleasure to cover on this show and Arran provides some fantastic insights into the benefits of embracing accessibility rather than seeing it as a chore and shares his knowledge with real passion and enthusiasm.

To find out more about Arran and his work you can find him on LinkedIn on twitter @ArranDyslexia or via his BLOG at http://arrandyslexia.co.uk/

You can also find more information and advice on accessibility in a range of places including Microsoft’s accessibility blog.

Thanks for listening.

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