13 Letters

13 Letters

“Accessibility” is more than just a setting on your phone or something you do to help the disabled – it’s the reason we have talking devices, voice recognition and sidewalk ramps. We couldn’t have an inclusive, diverse society without accessibility specialists working behind the scenes to make sure products and services work for everyone. 13 Letters features some of the world’s leading accessibility minds, talking about what they do and how accessibility affects billions of people every day.

Episodes

June 17, 2021 72 mins

Access to television is in many ways still evolving, and as one of the leading TV, phone and internet providers in the United States, Spectrum is thinking beyond closed captions and large-button remotes to innovate across different channels. Their large accessibility team, headed by designers and incorporating people with disabilities to ensure that all products are optimized for all customers, is one of a kind in the industry. And...

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Shell Little actually studied accessibility in college – making her a rare example of someone who didn't "stumble" into accessibility but hit the job market knowing exactly what she wanted to do. Still, she didn't know that she, herself, was part of the demographic that benefitted from inclusive design. Now an inclusive design lead on Wells Fargo's Accessible User Experience team and accomplished speaker in her own right, Shell sha...

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May 20, 2021 84 mins

Martez Mott is a senior researcher at the Ability Group at Microsoft Research, where he works everyday to challenge assumptions and rethink paradigms for how people interact with technology. In one of our favorite interviews yet (on Global Accessibility Awareness Day no less), we chatted with Martez about AR, VR, touchscreens and everything in between.

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April 15, 2021 85 mins

The author of the beautiful accessibility book Mismatch, Kat Holmes, comes on to share her own personal journey and how inclusive design can take some of its greatest learnings through examining acts of exclusion.

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April 1, 2021 73 mins

Accessibility expert Adrian Roselli comes on the show to share his story, and talk about the questionable implications of the now-popular “accessibility overlay.”

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March 18, 2021 94 mins

Colleges and universities are proving grounds for digital and physical accessibility. With disabled students living on their own in many cases for the first time, these institutions need to be fully compliant, ADA literate, and not just accessible, but highly accommodating –– and if they're not, students are left out. With the cost of education on the rise and remote learning now a norm,, many are taking a hard look at college and ...

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March 11, 2021 78 mins

Here at 13 Letters, we talk a lot about inclusive design and accessibility – but these terms mean nothing if we don't keep in mind the stories of the listeners who are most affected by bad design and most assisted by good design. That's why we're starting a new feature called "Meet the Letterheads," where we introduce you to a 13 Letters listener whose life is highly impacted by accessibility and everything surrounding it. Paul Par...

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May 28, 2020 82 mins

This week on 13 Letters – we take you to the land down under. Sarah Pulis and Andrew Arch are big names in a vibrant and thriving accessibility scene in Australia. Hailing from Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, the two live and breath accessibility at Intopia, a digital accessibility consultancy that Sarah co-founded. You may have seen Andrew and Sarah giving presentations at CSUN, at A11yBytes mee...

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Accessibility is for everyone – not just people with disabilities. That’s why Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon put their heads together almost ten years ago to conceive of an accessibility awareness day that has quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Cordelia and Will sat down with the co-founders of #GAAD this week, on the occasion of the 9th annual day, to talk about how the event got started, the...

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May 14, 2020 62 mins

Going with your gut is easier said than done — but for Sumaira "Sam" Latif, Company Accessibility Leader at P&G, trusting her instincts has made some of the most impactful changes to the world of accessibility. For far too long, blind and low-vision people had to rely on the shape of a product to judge what was in the package. Sam challenged all of this with the simple yet empowering idea to put tact...

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May 7, 2020 38 mins

It ain’t always easy being first – that’s why we have brilliant folks like Victor Tsaran to do it for us. Victor was the first blind employee on the Yahoo campus, and has a whole bunch of other “firsts” under his belt from a 20 year accessibility career that starts with the first Ukrainian screen reader and involves, most recently, the first screen reader by Google. Victor chatted with us from Mountain View this week ...

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April 30, 2020 15 mins

What’s it like to hide your blindness from the world? Caroline Casey did it for years. Her parents never told her she was “blind,” and, when she got into the working world, she hid it from everyone else. Holding down a high-powered job as a consultant at Accenture for several years while still “in the closet,” Caroline finally came to the realization that it wasn’t worth it anymore – and that’s when ...

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April 23, 2020 70 mins

We don’t always decide what we hear or how we hear it – but that’s changing. KR Liu, the new head of brand accessibility at Google, has a mission to bring accessibility to the masses and she’s not going to stop until everyone’s listening. A pioneer in the hard of hearing community, a sales powerhouse, a policy wonk and a creative technologist in her own rite, KR’s interests and ambitions are as vast as her experience....

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April 16, 2020 88 mins

Larry Goldberg wants every piece of media to be “born accessible.” 40 years ago there was no captioning, no audio description, no secondary audio channels on TV sets for blind viewers or people who speak foreign languages. And for the last thirty years, Larry has presided over great changes in media accessibility that have blazed the trail for our entertainment and education to be more inclusive and ...

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April 7, 2020 56 mins

 

'Fearless' is a word many would use to describe Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School. A disability rights lawyer, memoir author, and public speaker, Haben has certainly pushed the boundaries of how society regards deafblind citizens. Even with her many achievements, Haben would not consider herself fearless, but rather acknowle...

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March 19, 2020 35 mins

 

There was once a time when traveling with a disability was a daunting prospect. Srin Madipalli co-founded Accomable to create a database for disabled individuals to find and book the most accessible accommodation for their trips. Airbnb acquired Accomable in 2017, and Srin went on to work as Airbnb's product manager for in-home accessibility while holdin...

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March 11, 2020 73 mins

You don’t mess with Lainey Feingold. That’s probably why, after a 25 year career in accessibility and 75 successful, precedent-setting agreements with behemoth companies, Lainey has only had to sue someone once. (Can you guess who??). Based out of a small spare bedroom law practice in Berkeley, CA, Lainey has brought the corporate world to the table, over and over, to commit to accessibility in a pro...

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March 5, 2020 56 mins

Sheri Byrne-Haber self-identifies as a “no excuses type of gal.” The head of accessibility at VMware, public speaker and accessibility expert with degrees in law, business and computer science, Sheri is most well known for her outspoken accessibility writing on her personal blog. Publishing at a steady clip and always raising the bar to outdo her own personal best, Sheri churns out accessibility cont...

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February 26, 2020 73 mins

When Whitney Quesenbery talks about elections, she uses phrases like “design tragedy” and “unintended consequences.” Though the number of disabled voters has gone up over the last few decades, the numbers are still scary – and the gap between disabled and non-disabled voters still means millions of uncast votes. A usability and UX leader known for her book “A Web For Everyone,” Quesenbery co-founded ...

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February 19, 2020 51 mins

PART TWO: Mike Shebanek made Apple products work for everyone. He wasn’t always an accessibility maven, though. Mike worked his way up to become the product manager for some of Apple’s most famous and influential products – from the original iMac to the first-ever iPad. And when he found himself pushing for the failing consumer electronics company to develop and deploy a free, built-in screen reader ...

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