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Podcast w języku angielskim
June 16 2023|recording duration:17 min. 56 sec.

The Importance of Digital Accessibility: Inclusive Design and its Impact on Users and Businesses

Letizia Gutierrez

The A11Y podcast explores the world of digital accessibility with insightful discussions and interviews. Hosted by Piotr Źrołka, each episode features industry experts and advocates like Letizia Gutierrez, sharing their experiences and expertise in creating inclusive digital experiences. Discover the importance of accessibility, its impact on users and businesses, and learn how organizations can promote awareness and integrate accessibility into their design strategies. Join us as we delve into the world of accessibility and its transformative power in the digital landscape.

Letizia Gutierrez, is a User Experience Designer with expertise in digital accessibility. She lives in France and works at Volvo Group. After starting her career as a fullstack developer, she dives into UX and more into the accessibility domain, with 16 years of diverses experiences in digital startups and medium companies in France. She’s super interested in a lot of things, especially human behaviors and interactions with technologies.

Photo by Jonathan VelasquezOtwórz odnośnik w nowym oknie

Audio transcription

Piotr (00:00) Hello, good morning and good evening everyone. Welcome to our episode of A11Y podcast. I am your host Piotr Źrołka and today we have a fascinating guest with us Letizia Gutierrez Or yes, it is Should I pronounce this again or that was okay?

Letizia (00:22.306) Yeah, no, that’s great. Letizia Gutierrez. That’s great.

Piotr (00:25.927) Yeah, thank you. Welcome, Letizia , and we are thrilled to have you on our show. So, Letizia, could you share your background and experience in the field of the digital accessibility?

Letizia (00:28.515) Hello.

Letizia (00:36.278) Yes.

Letizia (00:44.05) Yes, sure, sure. So hello everyone. So yes, I’m a senior UX UI designer for over 15 years now, specializing in digital. And about 10 years ago, I fell into digital accessibility by working on applications and websites for citizens and local authorities in France. And we created products that were compliant with the AA.

Piotr (00:52.828) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (01:13.902) of RGAA, that’s a standard in France derived from WCAG. And yeah, and I also took part on some research studies, like how to create schools more physically and digitally accessible. And another one during one year, I helped someone to work on a platform, to create a platform that can be accessible for…

Letizia (01:41.846) children with disabilities to create and personalise their exoskeleton and also for the ergotherapist and parents. So yeah, I think I’m a person with an inclusive eyes and I became an advocate of accessibility at that time.

Piotr (01:48.1) Mmm. Wow.

Piotr (01:59.943) Wow, that was really great. And it seems that you’re having a fantastic experience. I should have met you 10 years ago, so we should do something together. But you mentioned about your experience and how would you define the term the digital accessibility today and…

Piotr (02:25.347) in your opinion, why it is crucial in today’s digital landscape? Because we’re building more and more digital products. And what do you think about it?

Letizia (02:35.894) Yeah, sure. For me, why limit the number of people who can use a product or a service? Once you answer this question, I think you understand what accessibility is about. So yeah, for me, I would say it’s not excluding people when you design a product or a service. It can be people with disabilities or people with digital illiteracy or anyone else with…

Letizia (03:04.002) temporarily or context impairment. So yeah, I think my perspective on just who it benefits has changed over the time by working for various kind of users. For example, I worked for agent, administrative agents, parents, children with disabilities, today with the truck drivers or operator in the factory. So yeah.

Letizia (03:32.478) We were talking about humans, so every human is unique, it’s a person, and it’s complex. So we have all different ways of thinking, abilities, ways of using technologies. So we have to keep this in mind that we are all different. So yeah, we have also the right to access and use whatever product or service we choose, let’s say.

Piotr (04:00.651) I really loved what you just said and I will remember forever, so thank you for that. So let’s go further. So we having a digital accessibility definition by

Letizia tia, but what are some biggest challenges organization faces when it comes to ensuring digital accessibility? Because…

Letizia (04:11.871) Yeah.

Piotr (04:28.523) You started your work like that 10 years ago, but what does it look like today from your perspective?

Letizia (04:40.798) Yeah, I think digital accessibility still too often perceive as a constraint or an option or something with an extra cost. So I remember when I was in a company and looking at the application and saying, hey, this is not accessible. The color contrast, the navigation are not implemented as well. And the stakeholders…

Piotr (04:55.046) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (05:10.686) a little bit surprised, answered to me, what is accessibility? Because we do not have users who are blind or deaf, so we don’t need it. Or another time it was, hey, we are producing internal tools. It’s not for public audience, so we are not obliged. And recently, someone who said to me,

Piotr (05:13.319) Hehehe

Piotr (05:30.995) Yeah.

Letizia (05:37.93) Yeah, we know that we must consider it. But we are in the rush of delivery, so maybe in a second time. So I think many of us, many designers or advocates of accessibility have heard those kind of answers, let’s say. So yeah.

Piotr (05:54.919) Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, I would say also, this is quite true that many people when they’re also from my perspective, when I’m starting to build something, they’re saying, Oh, I don’t care. Or our user are not disabled.

Letizia (06:12.759) Yeah.

Piotr (06:18.331) and this is quite important to little bit reshape this picture and tell because on the entire world is approximately more than one billion people who are today disabled so there’s a huge number

Letizia (06:37.882) I agree. I agree. And also, if we can say that we live in an increasingly digitalized world, everything is digital, the technology is everywhere, and it represents, I think, a tremendous opportunity for access to services, to knowledge, to culture, and for people with and without disabilities.

Piotr (07:00.88) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (07:07.498) And also, everything is now in mobile, in tactile. So if we take the example of someone who is visually impaired or blind, if we don’t put the voice or the bright indication, it’s not possible for those person. And also for the deaf people, if we don’t make the captions for the media that we produce, we exclude them. So…

Piotr (07:11.738) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (07:36.318) Yeah, that’s why the organization has to take conscience of that and to take conscience that it’s not an option and it’s not an extra cost also.

Piotr (07:46.751) Yeah, that’s true. So how organization can change this, how they can promote awareness and how they can educate their teams about the importance of the digital accessibility then.

Letizia (08:03.674) Yeah, yeah, as you mentioned, it’s education. Yeah, that’s true. I think it’s about building a culture within the organization and it’s essential for the organization to consider that digital accessibility upstream of projects and to integrate an inclusive design in their strategy. And the effort must be collective. We must continually learn from each other and include people.

Piotr (08:07.347) Mm-hmm.

Piotr (08:12.273) Mm-hmm.

Piotr (08:20.883) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (08:32.558) collaborate, involve experts, involve disabled people, test with them, and that, like this, we will gain valuable insights, perspective. So yeah, we, everyone must be on board and engaged to start working on it. So yeah, and regarding education, it’s about raising awareness of what is accessibility, because most of the people don’t know.

Piotr (08:48.243) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (09:02) What are the challenges that we need to embrace? Yeah, awareness first is the key. Today, for example, I’m going to start doing this and to support leadership team in France. So yeah, it starts by that. But at the same time, we need to train, the organization needs to train designers and developers because they are the actors who work on the services, on the products.

Letizia (09:32) And today, still designers and developers that are not aware about the recommendation or the rules to apply. So, yeah, training is important also. And even at school, I don’t know in the other countries, but in France, the digital accessibility is still not enough included in the university programs. And it’s important for the future generation.

Piotr (09:44) Mm-hmm.

Letizia (09:57) to know about it if we want them to then be advocates within the organization. A few weeks ago, I went to a conference in Paris about accessibility, inclusive, et cetera, and they say that some few universities are starting to include a part of this learning on their program. So it’s encouraging. It’s a little bit… It’s not late. It’s never late, but…

Piotr (10:09) Hmm.

Letizia (10:26) It’s encouraging. That’s happening.

Piotr (10:28) Yeah, that’s really happening. And I think because the European Accessibility Act and is apply the countries to really start to thinking about it. And more or less the same situation in the Poland, they starting to include the digital accessibility in primary school. But unfortunately, in our case, there’s still only a plan. But it’s really good to hear that something like that will be already

Letizia (10:40) Okay.

Piotr (10:57) in the primary, in the kindergarten, because imagine the situation that young generation will already know that, oh, there is a blind person, there is a person on the wheelchair, and perhaps once they grow and will become managers, they will say, yeah, the accessibility is a law, accessibility is the mask, it’s not something that we need to think about later.

Piotr (11:27) Lovely. So what do you think about the potential benefits from both the business and ethical standpoint for the smaller and bigger organization, which prioritize the digital accessibility in the life cycle of digital process or digital products?

Letizia (11:49.122) Hmm, yeah, yeah. I think the biggest benefit for all, let’s say, is to see different perspectives, understand other viewpoints, different cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic challenges, just to name a few because there’s a lot. Accessibility features can benefit all users, not just those with disabilities.

Piotr (11:57.005) Mm-hmm.

Piotr (12:00.893) Mm-hmm.

Piotr (12:12.498) Yeah.

Letizia (12:19.07) So yeah, it will enhance the overall customer experience if we then talk about customers in a more business way. So yeah, and digital accessibility means ease of use, text clarity, better navigation, and also best practices, et cetera, that benefit users of all abilities. So companies that don’t make the effort to build their product or website accessible.

Letizia (12:49.15) around the risk of excluding automatically a considerable portion of potential users or customers. So I think it’s, yeah.

Piotr (12:59.491) Yeah, and also if I put, I think also from the money perspective, because we’re talking about the easy of use and etc. And this is super important for me, that we need also, we need to start to tell about the money, because if we target our product for one billion potential user, this is a huge number. This is why, for example, Facebook.

Letizia (13:24.59) Mm. Yeah.

Piotr (13:29.063) is very accessible. Because he wants to, you know, collect more and more and more and more users to see the show, the ads, the videos and so on.

Letizia (13:35.39) Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Letizia (13:41.638) Yeah, that’s true. That’s true. That’s true. And also, you know, another benefit, it’s about low. Yeah, because many countries have laws governing physical and digital accessibility. So businesses that are not compliant, accessible compliance, may face serious repercussions. So yeah, it’s about low, but not just low.

Letizia (14:09.786) and not just legal requirements, I think it’s also a moral and an ethical responsibility to ensure equal access to all people. So organizations who create more inclusive and equitable products, services, society, make lives of disabled people better. Because like this, they no longer have to…

Letizia (14:38.238) do workarounds or say, oh no, I can’t be able to use this or this tool or this website. So yeah, so I think it’s important to have this in mind. Also, it’s not just low, it’s low. Yeah, but it’s also moral and responsibility. So yeah. And at the same time, if you do that, if you make the effort to produce and create and build more accessible, inclusive products, services, etc.

Letizia (15:06.802) you increase your image as a brand, you increase your reputation and also you have more customers and as you mentioned you have a loyal customer that stays with you.

Piotr (15:20.207) Yeah, and I would say today in the digital era, it’s quite important because you can lose your reputation quite quickly. And even, you know, one lawsuit to saying, Oh, our service is not available for the blind people. It might be a very viral, you know, it might be somebody posted on the Facebook and this will be, oh, I like it. I like it. Of course, this will be a negative like and it might have put the company in some trouble.

Letizia (15:45.468) Exactly.

Piotr (15:50.255) Yeah, it’s almost the end of our podcast and what will be your conclusion to the last word for our audience and people who listen?

Letizia (16:04.478) Yes, what I can summarize because there’s a lot to say about this topic, let’s say it’s so important, but what I can say is as we age, because we age and we age more and more and more and more, so you see, we will become disabled at some point, not just temporarily.

Piotr (16:22.14) Unfortunately, unfortunately.

Letizia (16:32.062) but maybe permanently, let’s say. We are not equal on that, let’s say. So, yeah, we have to care about other people now for the future. And if we look at the organization in more business side, as designers, developers, consultants or other jobs, we are all responsible, it’s our responsibility to advocate for this.

Piotr (16:38.918) Yeah.

Letizia (17:01.082) and to make sure and to ensure that in the organization that it’s the priority. So yeah and think about the prioritization. It’s also lead some innovating solutions because creating accessible products and services you make innovation and it benefits a wider range of people. So yeah so that’s…

Piotr (17:27.623) Yeah, I really love that. I really love that. And yes , we need to remember a functionality that we are agent, we will be older and older. Or maybe you know, somebody invited some magic pill and to build stop that. Let’s wish that but that does true. So let me show. Thank you for your time. That was a lovely conversation. Have a nice day evening and talk to you later. Thank you. Bye bye.

Letizia (17:33.674) Yeah.

Letizia (17:37.379) Ha ha ha.

Letizia (17:53.111) Thank you.


  • RGAAOtwórz odnośnik w nowym oknie - It is a French standard that provides guidelines and requirements for digital accessibility in France. The RGAA is derived from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and provides specific recommendations and criteria for making digital content accessible to people with disabilities.