Interview with Vishnupriya Kona - Accessibility and Usability Consultant at AbilityNet

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Vishnupriya Kona and I joined AbilityNet as an Accessibility and Usability Consultant in March 2023. Prior to this I worked as a Full-stack Developer for 7 years and as a User Experience (UX) Researcher for 2 years in the field of Information Technology.

I have a strong interest in people and a curious and analytical mind. I am very passionate about the need for UX research because it is an essential step in the human-centred UX design process.

Photo of Vishnupriya Kona, smiling at the camera

Can you tell us a bit about why you applied to AbilityNet, and that first step of applying?

When I worked as a User Interface (UI) Developer, accessibility was an important aspect to be considered when designing or developing web applications, making sure the app was usable for as many people as possible. This slowly sparked my interest in learning more about accessibility and working towards improving the experience for people with additional access needs. I wanted to contribute to building accessible products and services and became aware of AbilityNet, who have been actively championing digital inclusion for a long time.

What was the application and interview process like for your role?

I understand that the application process to become an Accessibility and Usability Consultant is a bit different to other roles at AbilityNet.

There were three main stages in the recruitment process that I went through - a first stage interview, a practical exercise and a final stage interview and presentation. Moving through the process was dependant on being successful in the preceeding stages.

The first stage interview involved me being asked a sequence of questions to get a better understanding of my skills and overall experience, and how closely this matches the role I had applied for. It was also an initial opportunity for me to ask any questions I had about the role and what it entails.

Next, for the practical exercise, I was asked in my own time to complete a test accessibility audit against current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. When completing the audit I had to ensure that the issues I reported were thoroughly described, the relevant WCAG 2.1 criteria was clearly identified, and a potential solution offered.

The final stage interview was made up of three parts, starting with a 15-minute accessibility presentation I was asked to prepare in advance, then the interview itself and finally a 30-minute multiple-choice technical proficiency test.

You must have been delighted when you found out you were successful. What happened next?

I was very happy and pleased to receive a job offer from AbilityNet. Once I joined an onboarding plan was shared with me by my Line Manager. It was a six-week plan for a structured induction to gradually introduce the knowledge and skills required for me to succeed in my new role as an Accessibility and Usability Consultant.

Each week during my induction I had regular contact with my Line Manager as well as opportunities to develop my knowledge via our internal e-Learning platform, practical demonstrations and exercises, opportunities to shadow colleagues, our in-house documentation and webinar recordings.

In the first few weeks I learned a lot about the different teams and communication channels at AbilityNet, along with what my team's core deliverables are and the purpose they serve. I was also encouraged to deepen my understanding of access needs and assistive technologies during this time.

You come from a UX research background. Can you tell us a bit about why UX research is so important?

I believe UX research to be the 'soul' of any product build process as it helps us to make informed design decisions and build user-centric products. UX research bridges the gap between what the business thinks the user needs and what the user actually needs.

I have already had the opportunity to get involved in some of the moderated user testing projects here at AbilityNet, shadowing my colleagues. We assess the usability of websites and apps with an accessible focus. We do this by gathering information from users that traditionally have been excluded from design and user research processes.

Have there been any highlights or anything you’ve particularly enjoyed in your first few weeks at AbilityNet, and is there anything you’re looking forward to in the coming months?

I have really been enjoying getting to know my team and about the culture at AbilityNet. Also, the induction process was very clear and streamlined, with my manager ensuring that the transition from week-to-week was smooth with lot of opportunities for learning. I would very much like to thank my manager for all the guidance and support given to me during this time.

Sometimes I consider working here as one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am willing to learn, adapt and evolve in my profession and I can see that this can happen at AbilityNet. In the future I would like to see myself as one of the major contributors making the digital world accessible for everyone.

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