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Spotlight: Anna E. Cook

What is your day job?

My day job is as a Senior Product Designer at Recurly. I lead product design efforts within one of our Scrum teams. My day-to-day usually involves:

How has learning about accessibility impacted what you do?

I think learning about accessibility has made me a significantly better designer. Every Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) can be mapped to best practices in content, design, and development, increasing overall usability. My design ideas generally perform better because I am informed by these guidelines.

Learning about accessibility has also helped me become a better asset to my team. I can work better with our Product Owners to write user stories and include accessibility in our requirements. I can work better with developers to understand how these requirements should be implemented. I can better work with my fellow designers to help inform them of accessibility considerations to further improve their designs.

There are so many things I've caught and improved on because I understand accessibility that I probably would not have otherwise. It helps that I work with a team that is eager to improve our accessibility!

What's one thing you'd want someone to know about doing accessibility work?

I think the biggest thing I would emphasize is that accessibility advocacy isn't easy, but it's absolutely worth doing. There are days where this work can be frustrating, just like any work. You need to be willing to challenge your internalized ableism, educate yourself and others, and push accessibility as much as possible. But access means everything to people who are disabled by exclusionary design, so every effort has an impact. There are so many opportunities for us to do better and many people who need us to.

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