Faces of Accessibility – Carrie Farber

In October of 2018, Carrie wrote a blog post, “How My Disability is Helping Make Walmart.com More Accessible“. She writes,

By 2015, I was in the thick of vision loss, but refused to let anyone see the battle I was fighting inside. I came to work every day without using a white cane or guide dog, because I was afraid of what people would think if they knew I had a disability. Would their perceptions of my abilities change? Would this impact my career growth?

I quickly realized that for the first time in 15 years, I could no longer shop our website. Walmart.com was not accessible for screen readers.

I suddenly realized that I had an opportunity to make a difference on inclusion for our associates and accessibility for our customers. It was time to take what I perceived as a liability and turn it into an asset.

Carrie is a dear friend who has taught me a lot about so many things. We have had many conversations about living with a disability but most of the time we meet we talk about food, shopping, travel, and work. She is always asking me about my kids and is interested in the details of my life. We have spent hours venting to each other our frustrations about work or people, laughing out loud over mindless jokes, and simply enjoying each other’s company.

We started the conversation about her blog post and how she decided to use her disability to her advantage and do something for the disability community at large. She was recently promoted to Director of Accessibility at Walmart. She speaks at many conferences and events. I am incredibly proud of Carrie and have great respect and admiration for her as a professional. But as a woman, my love for Carrie comes from a deeper place. We connected as women, imperfect in our own way yet strong-willed, fearless, and determined.

Here are a few things Carrie said during our conversation that I loved –

Expand the way you think about your customer, your user to include people with disabilities. Because when you change the way you think to be more inclusive you start to think differently about how you design and how you write requirements.

It’s ok to be overwhelmed. Break it into bite sized pieces. Make it digestable for yourself and for others. Celebrate the progrss along the way. Appreciate the small summits and the peaks that you hit along the way even if its not the top.

Even to be an ally or champion to drive awareness for Accessibility is so so valuable.

Spending time with your customers with disabilities.. there is phrase that Microsoft uses ‘design WITH people with disabilities’ rather than ‘design FOR people with disabilities’. When you really understand what they need and sit down with them, ideally as part of your team, when you get their input and partner with them it actually creates a better experience.

Oh yes, the next time you order Thai soup, try it with a dollop of rice. Delicious! Thanks to Carrie for that tip! Watch the video below for more on that and our fun conversation about Accessibility.

More about Carrie below:

Carrie’s LinkedIn profile