Design process vital to technology access
Speakers counsel agencies on ensuring accessibility
Image of Christine McGroarty and Jim Pilkington presenting at 2017 SIPA conference
Christine McGroarty and Jim Pilkington may not be able to see, but they have a clear vision for their state: Colorado will be a leader in ensuring systems, software, websites, communications, forms and peripheral devices are accessible to all users, including people with disabilities.
In their presentation at the 2017 State Internet Portal Authority’s User Conference, McGroarty and Pilkington  outlined what it would take for Colorado to achieve that goal. Speaking to an audience representing state and local agencies across the state, they recounted accessibility challenges they’ve faced as state employees.
Pilkington worked in the technology world for years before he lost his vision, and he continues in that field today as assistive technology specialist for the Department of Labor and Employment. Building on the conference theme, Enabling Digital Transformation, he and McGroarty prescribed an industry transformation that would start in software development and end in final testing.
“This is not rocket science,” Pilkington said. “Just a few things will catch 99 percent of accessibility issues. Software developers reuse computer code all the time. But sometimes the widget they’re reusing might not be accessible.”
Although it’s efficient to reuse code when possible, he noted, fixing post-production accessibility problems is not. It’s less expensive to build accessibility into the initial design than to cobble together a fix in the field.
“That’s like trying to retrofit elevators into buildings after they’re built,” Pilkington said. ... more