AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Gareth Ford Williams

July 25, 2022 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Gareth Ford Williams
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Gareth Ford Williams
Show Notes Transcript

 Gareth Ford Williams founded the BBC digital accessibility team in 2005 and in 2010 became Head of UX Design and Accessibility. After nearly 18 years, he decided to leave the BBC to focus on accessibility and inclusive design data with the start-up ab11y.com.

During his time at the BBC the accessibility team delivered a number of ground breaking accessibility projects covering many types of products and services including video streaming, children's games, TV platforms and mobile applications, and because the BBC is publicly funded the resources that have enabled these are always made publicly available.

He also set-up the first Accessibility Champions Network as part of his strategy to embed accessibility into the culture of the organization. While he was at the BBC, he also established the BBC’s Design Research Team, was a Head of UX Design for 12 years, managed the Assistive Technology Team in the last couple of years. 

This is a draft transcript produced live at the event and corrected for spelling and basic errors. It is not a commercial transcript and will need to be checked if you wish to publish it. AXSCHAT Gareth Ford Williams

NEIL:

Hello and welcome to Axschat. We have got a guest on today that you have never, ever seen before. He is fresh, he is new, he's FFW2. He is Gareth Ford Williams. Welcome back, Gareth. It's good to see you. It's been what too long, I guess. But obviously you're in a brave new world. So, tell us what you're up to?

GARETH:

Well, I left the BBC finally after 18 plus years being there. And that was kind in the middle the Pandemic. So, it was kind of very, very sad to go, really genuinely and very attached to the place. But decided for, there was a number of reasons to move on, things that I wanted to do and things that I have never managed to do within my role, and I thought that there was some very interesting sort of challenges and questions around accessibility. So, now I teamed up with four other people. Three of them are also X BBC. All have come from the accessibility team as well who had joined me at ab11y.com. That's ab11y.com. And one ex director from Google has joined us. So, we formed a company to start looking at inclusive design data because we don't have enough, and we have lots of stuff that informs but very little that measures. And so, this is an area that I have been fascinated in for a while. Still bumbling along with the readability group as a group, it's just an interest group kind of thing at the moment, as an aside. So, that is there. And I also have a company FFW, so that's the word double, then the letters FW, and so, I'm working with my wife who is the other W. And so, we are working with clients but mostly to try and find organisations that haven't found the right approach yet to digital accessibility because every organisation has a different culture, has a different product base, has a different emotional resonance with its audience, it has all sorts of things that differentiate it. And often then the approach is the way that you integrate inclusion, can be very, very different and they need to be sort of mindful to the brand and the organisation and the culture to make them work properly. So, that is the sort of thing that we are doing. And so, I'm busy. I'm very busy.

DEBRA:

You don't seem to understand how retirement works Gareth.

GARETH:

No, this is not, there is never going to be retirement. I don't think I'll last. I can't see me sat in a potting shed with a hidden bottle of sherry somewhere. That is not me. Maybe the hidden bottle of sherry but not in a potting shed.

NEIL:

Yeah, I think obviously we are going to have the drinks thing going on here but for sure there's been an awful lot of change. People, we have seen a lot of people moving in the accessibility world over the last 12/18 months. There has been a sort of lot of new organisations coming and sort of sucking up the talent from organisations that have been there doing it for a very long time. And that is interesting to watch. Obviously, I'm there trying to build a sort of shield to stop the losing my teams talent but yeah, absolutely, it's interesting to watch, to see the different types of organisations that are now, obviously we did a lot of work with the BBC over the years, how we come to meet in the first place. But you know, there were really sort of three groups of organisations that were doing accessibility, sort of consistently and predominantly. There was media and broadcast, public sector and then banking because they realised that the old people had the money and old people tended to acquire disabilities. So, if they really wanted the money, they better do this thing. And now, it's all kinds of different really diverse companies that are really sort of start of get bitten or recruiting.

GARETH:

And it's growing exponentially. There is more need than there is supply as far as knowledge is concerned. So, it's growing at an extraordinary rate. And I think there is a lot of different reasons for this. And some of them are very direct and some of them quite indirect and some of them, some people will see as good and some of them some people will see as not so good. But I'm finding it fascinating that there is a bit of a brain drain, I think is a good way of describing it, around talent at the minute because everyone is spreading out. There are teams growing all over the place because one of the other things I should have mentioned that I'm involved in and didn't because it's a voluntary thing. There's a thing called the Champions of Accessibility network, which is a network I co-manage which Charlie Tyrell who is also from BBC and Heather Hepburn from Sky Scanner. It's the three of us, are the main ones. Plus there's a small gang of others like David Tisserand, etc; who are helping us organise and pull this whole thing together but we have a network of people running Champions Networks, and it's simply a group on LinkedIn and we have a group of people and everyone in there is either has a Champions Network or wants to set one up and we just support and that is all we do. It's like a peer group. And there is now nearly 400 members of the group which takes us to over 150 organisations who are either, have a champions network or are trying to set up an accessibility champions network, which role it back, three years and I had more fingers and toes than there was champions networks in the world. And I think that is a really interesting indication because all of them managing by accessibility people or people that it's becoming part of their role and just seeing that microcosm of it, makes you realise that this really is exploding in the industry. And I think the wheels are going to come in off in many wonderful ways. It's going to be, you know, we are grabbing hold of the bits that we can that are within our gift, but people are now looking for solutions left, right and centre and looking for ideas and it's sometimes there is good things and sometimes there is not so good things that kind of happen. I don't want to beat around the bush. But the overlay phenomenon happened in the middle of this and there are organisations left right and centre. But I think good will come from that because you know it's fascinating. All of the organisations that seem to be going into them and they are buying into the wrong thing, and we know there are. They are looking for quick fix to a complex problem and it's an initial response that they are organisations that now have accessibility at the table. There is a discussion somehow somewhere going on there.

NEIL:

Yeah.

GARETH:

Where there wasn't one before. And so only good will come of it.

NEIL:

And I do think that you know that whilst there are all sorts of things wrong with both the sales approach, the miss selling of the capabilities and the misunderstanding of where accessibility needs to be baked into any organisation. We have seen the same kind of resistance and backlash to many sorts of new technologies that end up bringing utility further down the line and I think that so, I think it's, there is you know, potential for stuff to be useful. So, I think the key caveat, I always add is, you know, it may help some people so long as it doesn’t interfere with assistive tech. The problem is just about all of them interfere with assistive tech at the moment. So that is what really breaks the deal for me. So, ideologically I don't have a huge problem with it. I think that there are some challenges because you know someone is having this service and it might only be one line of code and it's actually working really, really well and it fixes everything fantastic and then someone in the accounts department goes maybe we can make a saving we will cancel this subscription and suddenly their website is not accessible again because they haven't done anything to the underlying site. Then you haven't changed the culture and made the organisations acceptable. You have devolved your responsibility to a subscription. So, that is kind of...

GARETH:

If you remember, Neil, go back into the mists of time when I was just in my, I think the best way of describing it, my accessibility short trousers, you know, I was very new and young to it. And we are still trying things out. 2005/2006, it was a world where new propositions were coming up. You know, the iPlayer had been born as a concept within the organisation, if it wasn't, you know, two years off from being delivered. And you know, the BBC had three sorts of plug-in overlay type things. We had Betsy. We had the text only solution and we had the accessibility tool kit which were all on different parts of the estate because in those days, the estate was very, very, very broken and there was tonnes of legacy content that comes from the dark days when no one really kind of knew how to do accessibility its and some bits were quite good and other bits were all table layouts and it was broken. So, we had one on the news site that was trying to fix the news you know, to make it better for assistive technology and it was actually, it took a different twist. It was instead of replacing assistive technology. It was there to try and fiction some of the problems or do an improvement. It wasn't perfect but it was and then Betsy stripped everything out and just turned everything into a linear experience in better contrast colours and a bigger font and all the rest of it. But it was, you know it was a very sledgehammer approach to trying to make table space, tabular base stuff accessible. And then we built this rather bizarre, it was my idea, a customisation tool. An iPlayer one for the first like eight months, there was a button called display options, you could go in there and you could change the fonts and all the rest of it. We realised after a while this was pointless because all of the operation systems and browsers were starting to build the type of functionality that we were trying to build into the page. And this is when we kind of ended up realising that in page customisation is kind of pointless. We are on the Internet and people want to, when they want to make a change, they want to change everything, not just your site. So, we abandoned that as an idea and just went, we could see where sort of the platform providers were Apple and Google and Microsoft were going and we just go, we'll support, I can't remember the phrase now. It was a sort of system level accessibility functionality first. You know, that is the native accessibility of the platform and so, that is where we went with that. So, we shut the display options, but the others were there and so, in some ways, I think, you know these could be good things for doing temporary fixes for estates, for legacy content, you can't go back and change the three million pages over there. That is never going to happen. We have to wait for those to be shut down and we've got to build something else in the meantime. In the interim great but I think that's this whole thing, Neil where you're saying, it's the sales and it's the promise or the over promise or the information around the thing and their usage is the problem not the things themselves necessarily.

NEIL:

Yeah. Some of the built-in readers and stuff for people that don't have assistive tech that don't know that it's built into their operating system, having it sort of telegraphed across the screen and they can have this. Maybe theirs first introduction to assistive technology, maybe access something. So, it's, you know it's not a black and white. There are lots and lots of shades of grey on this but there are no shades of grey about the way that they sell them. Right? Because they sell them as a cure all and then certainly not that and the fact they interfere with assistive tech and then actually prevent assistive tech users from accessing the sites is pretty much unforgiveable. As is the behaviour of some of these organisations then going out and you know, setting the lawyers on the accessibility advocates that are pointing out the challenges they have, you know. Those are the things that really then sort of you know, think you know you're definitely in this for the wrong reason.

DEBRA:

Right and also it just confuses everybody, and it creates and us and them, as we said. I know that Antonio had a question, so I wanted to give the mic to you Antonio.

ANTONIO:

I would like to a little bit to the beginning of the conversation, Gareth when you are talking about more there's people talking about accessibility organisations are hiring more. We also see more CEOs making pledges. We see more people doing reporting. But sometimes down the line you have an employee that looks at the screen oh everything is happening out there, far from me. It's really nice that they sign all that it's really nice that, but I'm still not comfortable enough talking about what I need. Nobody has ever asked me what I need. So, how can we somehow bring together or narrow this bridge to make sure that people who have been up there asking for solutions, people nobody was ever, nobody ever care in the organisation to ask an opinion about what they need. How can we make sure that we are not failing to this group of people?

GARETH:

Need, the word need is the thing that has been fascinating me for a long time because we, for a lot of different reasons because it all comes down to needs and this is for anyone. You know, for all of us, we all have functional, technical and emotional needs when we are dealing with things. And so, this is something that we kind of, we sometimes get mixed up the way we measure things. The language, we haven't found the right language for all of this yet, and so there is still you know, a sort of I think there's a cultural problem and it's a historical one about the way that people have grown up. How comfortable they are around the language. The permissions that are given around this. You know, there is a lot of misinformation. You know the amounts of accessibility memes that go around, and you know and there are some people trying to jump on to things and find out is this a solution? Is this a thing. Do I just replace this font, you know, all our fonts with one font and it fixes the world for dyslexic people, no, it doesn’t? But so, people are grabbing things and I think, so this is that kind of chaos of change. You know, when anything is going through a revolution, is this revolution or evolution? I'm not quite sure, I think it's a bit of both. But when we're going through that then there's things sort of popping up and breaking and I think different organisations are struggling in their own ways and we are all struggling with it. You know, I left the BBC, the BBC are still struggling with this in lots of different places. Because it is, because everything is changing. It's all in flux. You know, we're learning more about people and their needs and needs are the really important thing that we need. And we need everyone's needs because I think we share needs and needs aren't conditioned, I am dyslexic, I have ADHD but I will share needs with someone who maybe speaks English as a second language or you know, particularly around the way the words are written in English or I may share them with someone with a lower reading ability or a learning disability or who is older and may have a cognitive you know condition around age etc. We all have a need around language. We like it to be human centred. We need it to be clear. We need a load of things. And it's not necessarily about our condition and I think we need to have a better discussion about needs and about everyone's needs and stop politicising conditions. And it becomes otherness in there and I think Antonio you are getting this thing where in organisations, because of that. I think there is this, it's still stuck as a conversation around worthiness, and it's not yet seen as worthwhile. And so, they do these kinds of things. They're doing their toe in the water. We're going to do a nice thing for a bunch of people. It's way more than that. This is so, so fundamentally important and necessary and they have not made that leap yet. They are still on that discovery. So, I think yes, it's a big problem. If people are still not being engaged yet. But it is changing, and you know, maybe we are right in the still, you know taking our baby steps still. I don't know. You know quite possibly. They're big baby steps but they may still be baby steps.

DEBRA:

But you bring up such a good point because I know that we say, and I understand this is a best practice and I certainly encourage it, we always say ask the person what they need.

GARETH:

Yeah.

DEBRA:

Ask the person what assistive technology they need. But the thing is, the reality is we don't always know what we need and maybe I'm going to tell you what I need because that is what somebody told me would fix my problem 20 years ago. But...

GARETH:

Yeah. DEBRA: Right. It's Henry Ford, isn't it?

DEBRA:

Yes.

GARETH:

It's that whole Henry Ford thing, if you ask people what they want, they'd say faster horses that eat less. They wouldn't have said cars.

DEBRA:

Right, no. They don't even know what to say. So, I think that is such a good point. And then also, we have others saying, well, you all don't need assistive technology if websites are fully accessible and it's like, wait a minute. So, it's like once again you have experts in the field that don't know what, they don't understand it and by the way, Gareth just said, which I would consider one of the top experts in our field and you're still figuring it out because we're still figuring it out so, anybody, can say, I have got all the answers. I'm so smart. But then also, I also hate how I see some organisations creating disability indexes and the CEOs then which we're sort of going back to what Antonio was saying. Okay, you're making these pledges and I notice that you can say you're in but in this pledge, I mean. But you have never hired people with disabilities your website is not accessible, your HR systems are not accessible. I don't know how you can be in an index and not do all of those things and so, I understand that corporations are trying to figure this out and trying to get us to stop soon I get all that but I think are on to something really important Gareth and I know that people would say to me, who is doing it right. I'm not saying anybody's got it nailed. But I also use the BBC as an example. I also use ATOS. ATOS had a weird reputation of disability inclusion in the UK but the work that Neil and his team have done. It has been so valuable to that brand whether or not that brand really gets what Neil and Antonio and their teams have done. I don't know but it's amazing what people can do internally to make a difference.

GARETH:

Absolutely. I completely agree, there's a couple things in there quite important. What you said about the CEOs is really, really important because in some ways, that is a really important first step because culture comes from the top. It's defined by the top. The exec board defines the culture of the entire organisation and the rest of the organisation look to them to how they behave. So, if you have a president who behaves appallingly some of the people will take that as a great, I can behave like the president because that is the way it works. And I can be appalling too because that is okay, the person at the top has told me to do, I can do that. They have given me permission through example but I think what they have done which is really important is at the top, they've said what they want to happen then the organisation needs to figure out how it's going to make that happen and they may not have got to that point of actually trying to tackle the how question properly because there are many how’s, within this. So, how do we deal with all of the facets within this and this is fundamental change management across an organisation.

DEBRA:

Right. And I totally agree with what you're saying but this is where I get angry, where I'm getting angry is where they think because they signed some pledge that they are done and that really, really, really is annoying our community. So, okay. I'm leaving now.

GARETH:

Okay. I think they are the ones we need to sit with and say okay you have now put your cards on the table. You have signed a thing. Let's have a discussion now about how we're going to implement this. How long is this going to take? What is in our gift to do now. What can we change today? Let's change one thing. Let's pick a thing that we can do. We change it across the organisation. We have a look and see how well that went and bring in another thing, you know and deal with this because they just started out. It's what we did to BBC and what it still has to do because you know technology is continuously changing. We are finding out more about people all the time because people are continuously teaching us about the barriers that they experience, about their lived experiences, we are becoming more, you know, we have more insight, but we still don't fully know this because people are rich and wonderful things. You know, rich in experience and rich in culture and rich in so many, you know different ways and we, as a, you know sort of an industry, are trying to bring these two things together and you know, one we are exploring, the other is continuously moving. So, it kind of fits in places and falls apart in others. But that is the nature of things. But I think you're absolutely right. I think you know, also we want change. We do want to see it happen quickly and I think there are some times, there are organisations that struggle with moving to those next steps because they just don't know how, and no one is helping them explore those words. And there are other organisations who desperately want to do it but the actual products that they have stop them from changing. It's not in their gift, you know. There's a, for many, many years I'm defending another broadcaster in the UK who also had a set top box who also had three letters in their name, who are not always seen to be, you know in the best relationship with the BBC but we spent a lot of time defending them sometimes with off com and other organisations because people were where are the closed captions on their set top box and I kept saying back, when they were asking well, how have you done it on iPlayer and why is it not working on their system and I was saying, because we built ours ten years after them. And this stuff been invented, and it had not been invented then. And so, you're dealing with a system that's so old we can't find a way of doing it.

NEIL:

They have huge technological debt, and you can't escape that sometimes without sort of completely breaking the cycle. So, that is really, really expensive.

GARETH:

That is throw away all the set top boxes, your five million customers, ask them all to put them in the recycling and we'll send you some new ones out. Oh, by the way we are now bankrupt. You can't do, you know, so an organisation has to try and workout within its evolution of its products as what is the point that we replace those and that is the point that we then which British Telecom have done by moving into You View and suddenly gone from you know set top boxes and their classic BT set top boxes which had very, very little around accessibility into it to a platform that has loads of accessibility features. And so, they were able to do that, but it took years. It took years for them to make those switches. So sometimes, you know, we see these pledges and we want to see results and I think we should, we should be holding people to account. Absolutely, too right. You have said it. Go back a year later and say, you've so you've said this thing last year. What did you do? What achieved? How did you move the dial, and we want to see progress? And maybe organisations need to be better at talking about what they are doing.

NEIL:

Yeah. Without spin. I think the challenge is to get it without the spin because I quite often find myself feeling after I have been to an event or I have contributed to an article that actually that I have not lifted my colleagues up more because I've said, well, I have named other organisations that are doing a good job and then I think, well I do care what my team have done but also I want to be more measured and truthful and not turn it into an exercise in marketing what we are doing but really about trying to say you know say where people are doing good things be part of a wider community because I think there is this tendency when we have these CEO pledges. Suddenly everybody is sort of showing things up, making it. It's like you know the queen thinks everything smells of fresh paint you know because when she comes to visit, everyone has just quickly painted all the fences, you know so, when the CEO comes, it's quick, you know, hide all of the dirt under the carpet and the big lumpy accessibility carpet with all of the accessibility errors underneath it.

GARETH:

Nothing to see here.

NEIL:

Wonderful and that has this problematic effect and I have actually heard that some of the people working in some of the teams that these organisations have scored in these indexes have suddenly had their budget cut because there's nothing left to do.

GARETH:

Yeah, because the data is wrong. And this is one of the problems is the data can sometimes be incredibly selective as to what it thinks is a good score and we had this. I mean, you know, you all know me and I do like a side project. And I did one about four or five years ago. So, at the time, probably about four years ago June Sarpong joined the BBC to create the creative diversity team and she has made a massive impact in the organisation around betrayal and bringing diversity to the top table. You know? It's the first time that there is a senior executive for diversity. They've always been on the lower level. There was a head of diversity. There was never a director in a level of that and she did that and it was brilliant, and she made huge changes. But I met her, shortly after an event, a diversity event at the BBC and where they were showing all of the disability portrayal within their programmes and children's is phenomenal. Children's is exemplary in the way that it does it. And news is pretty good and their factual is very good. But four or five years ago, drama, I was saying thinking I used to make TV trails, I used to work on TV output at the BBC, with a lot of programme makers etc. And I just thought, well, don't think it's changed in the 15 plus years I have been here. I think it's the same. And so, I literally went off and did a side project. And the methodology was really, really simple is that I looked on iPlayer and I looked at all of the dramas that had been commissioned in the last two years that were available on iPlayer and then I was able to then look at all of the main cast and find all of the disabled actors because they are again, Equity there is groups where people are listed, there is a list, there was less than 100 professional actors in the UK at the time. And so, I could find them all really easy, cross referenced it and then I went back in the Archive, and I had a look back 20 years and I had a look back, it was 30 years and I think it might have been a bit further than that. But it was quite a long, I went right back, and I went, I want to know what it was like then and I discovered that 30 years previous, the BBC proportionally had more disabled actors on it within its drama than it did now. I mean it made is a lot less because it only had like one TV channel and that was it. And it was back in the days where still shifting from black and white, I think. I think I went right back to the 1960s, so probably even further. About 40 or 50 years back. But the reason why is that there were actors who had come out of World War II and they'd gone back into acting again and they were blind or had an arm missing and there were things, they were injured. And so, they were just actors. There was a wonderful actor called Esmond Knight, who passed quite a few years ago. And he was, he lost his eyesight in the Battle with the Bismark, the real one. He was on one of the ships that was fighting. He was an officer and before the war he was being a classically trained actor and he was blinded in that battle and interestingly enough, in the file, The Battle of the Bismark, he plays one of the captains, he plays the captain of the ship that he lost his eyesight in. I mean, talk about dealing with your past traumas in an incredible way. But he was in Laurence Olivier's Shakespearean films, all of them, playing sighted roles. He was in I, Claudius. He was in some massive productions, always playing sighted roles. I actually had the pleasure once of seeing him in Moby Dick on stage in the 1980's. I remember my dad saying to me that actor there is blind. He can't see the other actors. And yet he was walking around. His eyeline was perfect. He was picking up drinks from tables because everything was set out. It was illusion. He is an actor. They are drawing us into a world and fooling us. He was cripping down. I think is the phrase.

DEBRA:

Wow.

GARETH:

Fantastic actor. He was all over the place. And I went around and found these actors, particularly Esmond and he appeared in so many BBC dramas, the numbers were right up. I was like, how are we doing this. What didn't we not learn? Why did we not learn at that point? Why did it not carry on? What was the problem, culturally that stopped us building on that? And I presented the data and numbers don't lie, you know. And I presented the data to June, and I presented the data to other people, and I said just go. This needs to change. This is wrong. I don't know whether I had any. I think June was on that path anyway. June built this amazing team and they have done wonderful things and you know; I think she just found that fascinating and sort of as an interesting insight. But it was one of those things where you kind of need to understand that you know, our needs to reflect life because life then reflects art. So, the behaviours, the things that we see on our screens. The behaviours that are taught to us we reflect back. So, if people are invisible in dramas, in you know, in newsrooms in sorts of stuff they become invisible in life as well because a, they don't think that they can do the things, you know, it's that unconscious bias thing. It becomes, it reinforces all of the stigma and the stereotypes, and the issues and it needs to change.

ANTONIO:

So that just...

GARETH:

I have gone off on a massive tangent, I'm sorry.

ANTONIO:

Gareth, that just brought me to we have been talking here now, myself and Neil we work at the enterprise Debra working consultancy also, how can we learn from that story and avoid mistake. Now, we are going to fix accessibility, maybe some of the things we are doing today they were fixed five years ago. What can we learn from that story that you just ended telling us?

GARETH:

We do, and we go and fix these things and then we don't go and hire someone. You've got to see it through. There are people out there with skills and capabilities and you know and this was one of those things that you know, I worked with yourselves previously at the BBC and still working with ATOS around this is that whole issue as an organisation that wants to employ more disabled people and I think, is it about 8% of the staff roughly of a disability, something roundabout there. I remember the numbers were about 8 or 9% and they had a target of about 100 or 11, or something about two years ago and they're constantly building that but if you've got around 400 internal systems and those systems disable people because remember, you know, disability comes from, it's not the person. The person can identify as disabled, but they're disabled by the world not being designed for them. That is where the disability happens. And so, if you do hire people in, and say you have got a system in there. Taxi booking system, straightforward one and it takes me five minutes to book a taxi and then it takes someone who, you know just happens to use assistive tech and it takes them 12 minutes to book a taxi and then that is a similar discrepancy for every other system. I mean I remember having these conversations with senior managers and saying there is three things that, you know I want to know from yourselves. Is it okay for them then, is the expectation that then they take shorter and fewer breaks? Do they work longer hours, or should they be less productive? Even though they're completely as competent as I am, and they have as much to give as anyone else. You disable them by the choices you make in that, we need to change this. You need to see the thing through. It's not just about shoving people in through the door. It's enabling them to then thrive and have a continuous thing of improvement and we don't have enough of a language around the data, around that. We don't even have the numbers around this, you know, we don't do task analysis. You know, it's not just about you know procuring things.

NEIL:

It's not even just around...

GARTEH:

And not tell you, whether you can be an inclusive employer.

NEIL:

Not even just around accessibility, I think that organisations forget about task analysis in general, they just go, oh, this is going to save us loads of money. This is the new thing. This is brilliant. You know, we'll be so, much more productive and then you know you actually look at it and you think you're bleeding those three seconds per transaction per day, 20 times a day across hundreds of thousands of people and it's a huge amount of money. It's a huge amount.

GARETH:

It has to go somewhere. Yeah, it's that whole problem Neil, the Douglas Adams in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy invented a thing called, the somebody else's problem field and it was a machine that you just switched on next to something and then no one really saw it because it was someone else. And I think these are employed a lot. These imaginary little machines.

NEIL:

Yeah, especially in really, really large organisations because you know, you can compartmentalise everything. You think, I know this department and I know that department and you know, I'm an expert in one particular area of you know, one thing and nothing else.

GARETH:

And they need to be honest. They need to be honest about the conversations and again I'm going to use the BBC example here and it was one that, I think sometimes, this is that, I think you touched on this earlier, I can't remember it was Antonio and Neil, even yourself Debra, I can't remember, it was the language that is used and the honesty around the communications and there was a system that was brought in at lockdown, it was one of those. It was a system to help people around mental health and wellness and wellbeing, and it was very, very quickly procured because we are in a Pandemic, we needed to get things fast and in through the door and the homework was not done really as well as it could have been done. But we knew it was in flight and I got involved and then there was a piece of communication that went out saying we've just procured this for all of our members of staff. And now we had already then started evaluating this saying, the assistive tech users can't use this. This is not for all our staff. So we ended up in a very senior management meeting. There was a meeting that you had with all of the senior managers which I used to go through across the organisation, and I raised a question because they were talking about this. And I said, I know there are these problems, and I am not expecting them to be fixed magically overnight but can we change the communication because the communications going out at the moment saying this is for everyone when it clearly isn't. So can we just be honest and say we know this is not accessible to everyone. We are trying to you know and tell the story as it is.

DEBRA:

Right.

GARETH:

And then someone came back to me and went, gave the usual fluff of well you know, blah, blah, blah. And they said are you happy with that answer and I said no. It's like, I'm not happy with that answer. And we changed this. We should change this, if we can't be honest no one will trust us. And we have to be honest about the things we know are broken and the challenges that we have and then we meet them together and this is that whole thing and I think that defensive point that people are doing, and I think the metrics are defensive why is why it looks like oh brilliant, we have ticked everything off. They are designed in a way not to look like they are too hard. It's like the A, double A, triple A thing, it's nonsense. It's absolute nonsense and they only are there because I remember talking to one of the people who decided that. It's what they thought they could get away it. But it doesn't actually, it's not about users. It was literally about chancing your arm.

NEIL:

Yeah, what's pragmatically implementable rather than possible.

GARETH:

Probably but they've not even tried it out and then got feedback to find out if it was pragmatic. It was done you know, and then we are stuck with this.

NEIL:

Yes. I know. Okay. So, we have massively overshot. Quelle surprise? So, great it's been a joy talking with you again. We look forward to you joining us on Tuesday night for Q&A and the sun will have passed over the yard, so it should be interesting, and you can sample your customers products.

GARETH:

We'll talk more about that on Tuesday. I have not mentioned them tonight yet on the recording.

NEIL:

I need to thank My Clear Text for keeping us captioned. Thank you, Gareth. It's been a pleasure as always.

GARETH:

All right. Absolutely brilliant.

DEBRA:

Yes, thank you Gareth. And thanks, My Clear Text. We do really appreciate you. Page | 2