Accessibility Insights with Ted Drake of Intuit

Ted Drake is Global Accessibility and Inclusive Design Leader at Intuit, a financial software company that creates TurboTax and QuickBooks. He chatted with Robin Christopherson MBE, AbilityNet's Head of Digital Inclusion, in the November session of our monthly Accessibility Insights webinar series

Image of Robin Christopherson on the left and Ted Drake on the right

In the free session Ted and Robin discussed:

  • Accessibility Champions at Intuit
  • Ted's thoughts about the future of tech and digital inclusion
  • Intuit's inclusion and diversity practices

About Ted

“Accessibility is more than making sure images have alternate text. I work with engineers, product managers, and designers to understand how accessibility impacts the users, set realistic deadlines, and create the solutions to provide a delightful experience to all users, regardless of their physical, sensory, or cognitive ability,” says Ted, who leads the accessibility efforts for Intuit's desktop, web, and mobile products.

Ted is the co-founder of the Intuit Abilities Network for employees and promotes Intuit’s diversity in hiring programmes. Prior to Intuit, Ted co-founded Yahoo’s Accessibility Lab and was a developer evangelist. Ted speaks regularly at technology conferences and is a co-chair of the 2020 and 2021 Web4All Conference for accessibility research.

Webinar FAQs

A recording, transcript, slide deck, and podcast are now available below, and Q&As will be made available here soon.

Find out more in our webinars FAQs and sign up to our next free webinar in our AbilityNet Live webinar series.

Podcast recording

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Webinar Q&As

This webinar lasted 30 minutes and included an opportunity to pose questions to the guest, please see below the questions and answers from Ted. You can find an archive of our webinars on our website and we also offer paid role-based accessibility training.

Q: What is your opinion of the positive side of accessibility in pandemic times? (E.g subtitles or captions make deaf or HoH people communicate more effectively in virtual setup than what they can do in physical setup.)

Ted: COVID forced people to re-examine their concepts of work, home, and recreation. This included the mainstreaming of technology and accommodations that had been treated as optional or assistive. This will have long-term benefits, as people should not have to struggle and justify their need for flexible hours, remote work, captioning, mental health care, personal time off, readable documentation, and personal working styles.

Q: Any ideas how to make those accessibility roles in a company official? And any tips on resources to establish a11y framework? In my company I am self-proclaimed a11y champion who does some work when I have free time as a11y is not on the official company roadmap.

Ted: This has been a struggle for many accessibility professionals. You will need to do some homework to create a job description, goals, and reporting structure.

My first advice is to look at your company’s horizontal leaders: privacy, security, performance, search engine optimization, and globalization. These positions have similar goals and cross-product reach. They can help you plan the transition. Look at the Teach Access Accessibility Skills Hiring Toolkit to find a job description that fits your work. Start collecting metrics on your impact. Show the improvement of products, bugs created/closed, number of people who have been trained, etc. Be transparent with your manager and make this part of your annual goals.

Q: I rely on hearing aids and subtitles. 25 years ago I used an IBM speech recognition programme - it worked’ish. Since then technology/AI capabilities has exploded. Despite that News broadcast subtitles are frustratingly bad. My question is: why so bad and will it ever improve?

Ted: I’m not a captioning/transcription expert. But I would expect a live newscast is the most difficult program to live stream, as the transcribers probably don’t have access to scripts prior to broadcast, names and locations may be difficult to spell, and the pace is rapid. Automated transcription is rapidly evolving. Microsoft and Google are challenging each other for not only accuracy but also expanding the potential of automated transcription. With the current pace, you will probably see automated transcripts becoming the most accurate option for live news broadcasts. Further, they will be capable of translating the text to multiple languages, which is key for cities with diverse communities.

Useful links

Ouch BBC podcast

Accessible Video Gaming

Ted and Robin also discussed Accessible video gaming. You may be interested in AbilityNet's training course: Video Game Accessibility.

Date of webinar: 
9 Nov 2021 - 13:00