AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Matt Gibson & Ramon Lapenta from Cyber-Duck, a user-centred digital transformation agency

August 16, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Matt Gibson & Ramon Lapenta from Cyber-Duck
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Matt Gibson & Ramon Lapenta from Cyber-Duck, a user-centred digital transformation agency
Show Notes Transcript
 

Matt Gibson & Ramon Lapenta –  17th of July 2021, 8 pm GMT

 Matt Gibson is a Director at Cyber-Duck, a user-centric digital transformation agency based out of the UK.

He helps oversee all aspects of the production lifecycle, including research, design, and delivery of products and services, for organisations like Sport England, Compare the Market, and the Bank of England. 

As a BIMA Hot 100 top creative in the UK, he is a champion for inclusive design, and accessibility best practices, levelling up Cyber-Duck’s team and clients’ awareness and knowledge. He truly believes in the universality of the web, and the power that inclusive design has in creating better experiences for everyone.


Ramon Lapenta, also  works at Cyber-Duck, and he is a technical lead and senior front-end engineer. He spent the best part of the last 20 years building things for the web, and most of his life involved in the design industry. Working at Cyber-Duck allows him to interact with people from very different backgrounds, and  to learn to adapt is work to cater for many different needs, which eventually turned me to working with Accessibility.

As a champion for Accessibility in his company, with Matt, they get to help their team to understand those needs and to work with an open mind for inclusive design, and building a web that’s helpful for everyone.

 

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Neil Milliken: hello, and welcome to axscat i'm delighted that we're joined by two guests today matt gibson who's the chief production officer and reminder painter, who is the front end tech lead for cyber and cyber dark on a digital agency.

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Neil Milliken: Based out of the UK, but obviously we have people around the world and we we work remotely these days so matt and Ramon welcome, can you tell us a little bit about.

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Neil Milliken: The agency and more you're doing I saved from your website in your got ISO 9241 I would get the numbers wrong way around So the focus on humans ended design, but colors no.

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Matt Gibson: Well, thanks for having us first of all yeah so i'm at cyber duck he said, are you centered design agency we've got that also in his human centered design 9241 dash 210 dash 9241 I think is the full full title that capture and we're based.

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Matt Gibson: it's interesting isn't it because of the whole remote first thing so we're based in the UK in London for a month is in Colorado springs, and we have people around the world working for cyber duck so.

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Matt Gibson: We are we're remote First Company we focus on user centered digital transformation so basically creating accessible and inclusive services.

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Matt Gibson: For clients right right across the spectrum, from public sector likes of school England and Bank of England, the people like that right through to private sector so.

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Matt Gibson: organizations like compare the market, for example.

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Ramon Lapenta: And yeah i'm Robin I specialize and the implementation of from him.

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Ramon Lapenta: websites and applications and all of that, and for the past few years, focusing a lot more accessibility and.

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Ramon Lapenta: happy to be here in this conversation, thank you for inviting us great.

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and

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Neil Milliken: Obviously, public sector we we we know public sectors and duty to do this stuff and therefore you would hope that the public sector plans asking you begging me to help them get it right.

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Neil Milliken: But how how did you come to be working in the space and how have you seen the market change over over time, because, as you said you were the public sector, but there's also.

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Neil Milliken: Private sector, I think that that i've experienced a significant shift in enthusiasm or interest in accessibility over the last few years, but i'd be interested to see what from an agency point of view, whether you're seeing the same things.

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Matt Gibson: yeah I mean it's interesting so say that public sector should want to do I think everybody should want to do it.

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Matt Gibson: But yeah I definitely think there's been a shift what you said in the last five six years, maybe more sense gds and now see video.

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Matt Gibson: come about, I think that's really push things along in the public sector, the creating of the service standards.

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Matt Gibson: And then having assessments around that service and the thing that keeps people in check and makes the people in compels people to actually do things in the right way.

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Matt Gibson: You know that saves time is really about processes and it makes people follow those processes quite rigorously so that's I think really positive.

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Matt Gibson: I think in the private sector is lagging behind a little bit it's quite interesting because I think obviously our background as an agency.

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Matt Gibson: You know.

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Matt Gibson: 20 years ago was making flush sites, so you know they weren't very accessible those site, but we will always make an accessible version of it.

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Matt Gibson: was probably interesting is actually that accessible version of html version back then CSS to whatever it was at the time was actually probably better and.

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Matt Gibson: Probably more usable than the platform, and so I think that's kind of the direction that that we took as an agency, I think one of the things that really did push it along for us as an agency was.

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Matt Gibson: The advent of responsive design and really getting into accessibility from that and thinking about creating services that can be used by anyone anywhere on any device.

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Matt Gibson: regardless of who you are what your needs are really creating services that are inclusive, so I think that was probably one of the I don't know light bulb moments for side, but you know the whole responsive design movement yeah.

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Neil Milliken: I agree with you, I mean we we have seen some people deliver accessible flash websites and in fact we amongst our Community, we have a couple of fans that, even though it is a fully deprecating technology now.

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Neil Milliken: I am taking the Mickey a little bit, but, but essentially.

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Neil Milliken: The simpler, the underpinning the closer we can get to using the html as the basis for.

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Neil Milliken: The stuff that we build the usually the more robust, it can be an easier to be standards compliant but that doesn't mean that.

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Neil Milliken: html is the be all and end all because there is still the element of design So how do you.

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Neil Milliken: How do you marry up the design concepts, with the need to be technically compliant because obviously it's not all about the technical side of things you've got the the the visual design the sort of interaction design and.

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Neil Milliken: The usability in the flow processes to take into account to.

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Ramon Lapenta: pick this one.

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Ramon Lapenta: yeah, I think, for the past two to three years, probably, I think we have been focusing a lot more and being.

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Ramon Lapenta: involved a lot more, I mean the production part of the implementation team and cyber were getting more involved in the design process as well.

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Ramon Lapenta: So, from the very start, when we see the requirements of any project we tried to get together and have calls with the design team to see how are we going to approach that the sign of any project from the start, in that way, we ensure that the the sides are not only.

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Ramon Lapenta: Meaning that the client requirement but they're also been created with accessibility in mind, from the very start, and that has helped us massively to.

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Ramon Lapenta: Not only achieve accessibility, at the end of the project, but also to get the signers to think with accessibility in mind and decide with with that mindset, from the start.

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Matt Gibson: yeah I agree, is, I think one of the things that we really pushed I think in the last few years is making sure we're doing user research and involving people right across the spectrum of disabilities and in that research for our so from.

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Matt Gibson: Making sure that access needs so part of personas that the increase in part of those user journeys.

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Matt Gibson: right through to as you're you know, creating prototypes or designing things that actually you're doing testing with people again with the range of disabilities.

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Matt Gibson: and working with partners so we work with our an IB quite a while making sure that.

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Matt Gibson: You know we're doing the research with the right people and that we're actually involving the people that are going to be using the service and in that research right through that process and doing things as Ramon said during our orders on the designs that we create.

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Matt Gibson: Because it's easier and cheaper to fix those things that the design station is to fix them when when you're building it.

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Debra Ruh: matt I know before we came on air you talked about the you know, the founder of cyber duck head really sort of stepped away and created cyber duck because you really wanted to be more human centered focus and i'm curious about a few things.

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Debra Ruh: You know when did cyber duck start thinking about accessibility, especially when you were sort of creative with human design, you know in mind.

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Debra Ruh: Was it because compliance caught your attention, which is generally how people move into the market so i'm curious about that, but at the same time.

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Debra Ruh: What caught my attention about cyber duck is that not only are you doing it, which I certainly appreciate as part of the Community, but you're actually.

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Debra Ruh: Leading conversations and encouraging others to join these conversations and I know you just recently had an event that was a global event.

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Debra Ruh: That I was really proud to speak at Mike gifford was there from Canada, which we've had on the show before.

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Debra Ruh: But why, why did y'all start and why do you think it's so important in to show leadership obviously you want to be compliant but I thought it was an interesting point also that Neil made.

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Debra Ruh: One thing about compliance, but how do you do build it in a way that is still innovative creative and beautiful but you know really built for human beings to use it.

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Matt Gibson: yeah so Danny and he's quite open about this Danielle co founder he worked in as land before time without or Rotary that the.com boom and bust and.

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Matt Gibson: I think you know at that, at that time Danny wasn't very happy with how things were often done in that sector i'm sure things have moved on quite a bit since then, but.

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Matt Gibson: At the time, Danny wanted to create an agency that was more human centered user centers and and have all of these principles principles that have sort of been enshrined within.

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Matt Gibson: You know user experience design enshrined all of those in how we work and create an agency that works in the right way works for us as rather than against them so.

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Matt Gibson: So that's kind of been part of our ethos and part of our value since since we were founded in terms of accessibility it's an interesting one, because I would say it's been a journey we you know right back then.

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Matt Gibson: Before mobile was really a thing you know this i'm talking, you know, over a decade ago now, so you know we were we.

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Matt Gibson: Were we were creating web versions of websites and things like that you know it's been I think part of who we are creating compliance standards.

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Matt Gibson: Based code and things like that from day one, I think, where we probably started getting more into accessibility was probably around 2011 2012 when responsive design came about, and then I think we then started actually taking it a bit more seriously and really understanding the web.

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Matt Gibson: Standards and and I know there's a lot of them it's a bit sometimes feels a bit like Monty python's people's ideas from you know with the amount of standards, there are out there, right now, but.

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Matt Gibson: It I think that's probably around the time where we started taking a little more serious getting more involved in the Community and then over the it's just been a journey journey and more you do it, the more you want to learn, and the more you want to.

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Matt Gibson: get better at it and the more you test with users, the more you empathize and you want to do things that are good for them.

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Matt Gibson: So.

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Matt Gibson: So yeah.

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Ramon Lapenta: I love that.

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Ramon Lapenta: I love mad, you mentioned that date because that's when I started a sour look.

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Matt Gibson: On June.

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Ramon Lapenta: I think for me there's.

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Ramon Lapenta: always been interested in like web standards and all of that, for before working a cyber but also is mad at us very personal to me my husband is always been.

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Ramon Lapenta: involved with.

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Ramon Lapenta: Working with people with disabilities in the you know the education system and in other other places, so i've been really close to to that and i'd seen the effects of not doing accessible work firsthand and that's I think that's one of the reasons, has been so important to me.

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Matt Gibson: yeah I think that's similar for me as well room on I you know, I was growing up when I was when I was a kid my when, then it will show you was he will show you that starts the way now but.

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Matt Gibson: Seeing you know the prejudice and just general or disable ISM that she faced a lot in her life, I think it's probably shaped my outlook on personally but also brought into the business that it it's it's about forgiveness and making sure that everybody has equal access to things.

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Debra Ruh: Right and also I love that Ramon you know mentioned, you know as husband, because we have to look at all these issues from the intersections as well, because I mean there's so much to do and I just think it's really important in that it be built, you know in.

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Debra Ruh: You know, in the DNA of your projects Ramon you mentioned standards, I mean we all talked about standards, a little bit, but.

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Debra Ruh: There are some people that just think that there's only a couple but that standards are stupid and we don't need them, and that you know.

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Debra Ruh: A but the reality is it see why do y'all think or do you think that we do meet standards, you know I mean, as you mentioned matt it's.

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Debra Ruh: very complicated and I know people get really intimidated when they're going to be accessibility experts for a company, and then they go out to Wick egg you know and it's like.

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Debra Ruh: Oh, oh it's really easy all you have to do you know.

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Debra Ruh: And it is easy, is the sheer volume that makes it starts to make it difficult and i'll just make one more comment, I remember i've been in this field, a long time, but whenever I first started in 2001 and we had updated our our five a weight loss.

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Debra Ruh: We were saying Some experts are saying just don't ever use PDF again don't ever use flash or.

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Debra Ruh: At I remember macromedia actually got little aggravated with me once saying, did you say, are you telling people they can't use flash and I said no i'm saying, if you use squash.

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Debra Ruh: It has to be accessible and in the beginning, we weren't sure if we could make flash accessible, but then we figured it out, we adapted as we do as humans, but.

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Debra Ruh: I was just you know curious what y'all think about the standards only because sometimes there are some voices that say the standards just slow us down and take away our innovation and creativity, and so I was just wondering, you know what your thought about that perspective of the conversation.

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Matt Gibson: Is kind of really helpful.

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Ramon Lapenta: yeah yeah exactly that's that's the way I feel the standards give you a platform and in which you can not only validate what you're building, but have it.

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Ramon Lapenta: testable in like in ensure the quality is a lot easier by following standards, I think I understand the reasoning behind not doing that.

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Ramon Lapenta: But I think for for us at cyber in general, if I can speak for for everybody.

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Ramon Lapenta: We, we see that as a challenge and we like to to be creative and do different things with the standards in place and it is possible if.

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Ramon Lapenta: Once you get used to to think in that way it just becomes second nature, so I think that the standards are always help us to you know, keep in line with the quality of what we're doing.

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Debra Ruh: Well, said.

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Neil Milliken: Well, said so, I agree, I, but I can also see the tension and the friction with that so having spent some time working on w three see working groups it's.

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Neil Milliken: The language that is used is sometimes impenetrable right so so I I often said that it was ironic that as a member of the cognitive accessibility task force that the accessibility guidelines are cognitively in accessible.

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Neil Milliken: happen is it's the way that they're presented that's not the fact that they exist so so standards, a tremendously important because essentially.

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Neil Milliken: The aside from the sort of the look and feel accessibility, the technical accessibility elements is about interoperability, so we don't do it right, the technology is just work together.

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Neil Milliken: And so you're you're cutting people off by by not allowing the tech to work together and that's where standards are super important.

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Neil Milliken: But there is a real problem in the way that they're presented and the way that.

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Neil Milliken: It can be difficult for people to understand the requirements of the standards and interpret them and put them into.

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Neil Milliken: into make them real in their products, and I think that.

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Neil Milliken: there's obviously a recognition of this in terms of.

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Neil Milliken: people trying to put forward examples, there are code snippets you go w three schools you've got lots of people teaching staff and at the same time, you know.

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Neil Milliken: they're there are people going out there sort of creating the mystique and the problem with the mystique around standards is that it opens up.

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Neil Milliken: The market for products that are damaging that enable companies that sell overlays that that don't actually fix the code that don't actually solve the issue that don't result in standards, compliance being sold as that this will fix everything for you solution and that then creates.

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Neil Milliken: A dangerous situation, particularly in the US, where.

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Neil Milliken: There is a culture of litigation.

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Neil Milliken: The organizations that for the best will in the world, want to do the right thing and make their products and services accessible thing we can just pay and this thing will do it all for us right.

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Neil Milliken: And then they're opening themselves up.

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Neil Milliken: To being sued so, so I think that they're whilst the companies that are making those products need to be.

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Neil Milliken: held to account and and to be able to be really clear about what our products can and can't do because there is still a place.

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Neil Milliken: For short term fixes because, as you said, retrofitting accessibility it's time consuming and expensive, so you might want to use an overlay until you fix the code, but go and fix the code.

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Neil Milliken: But there's also an onus on the people that are delivering standards to make them comprehensible.

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Neil Milliken: And digestible and allow people to understand what it is they need to do in order to do this stuff so that it doesn't become so scary that you just go pay for an overlay and not going to name the.

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Neil Milliken: Particular, one that has the.

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Neil Milliken: era.

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Neil Milliken: of everyone in the accessible, as you will but let's let's say they were appearing as promoted and to my Twitter timeline.

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Neil Milliken: Because money.

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Neil Milliken: Is.

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Neil Milliken: Ramon I know you want to comment on this.

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Ramon Lapenta: yeah I think the The way I see it, the most damaging part of the whole general topic is having the the idea of you don't have to do the work.

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Ramon Lapenta: normalized.

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Ramon Lapenta: The I think that is very damaging for everybody involved in the industry.

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Debra Ruh: I agree, and also, I if the investors that invested in this company that we're not naming it they they talked to me and I said what are y'all doing.

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Debra Ruh: Why are you investing money in something that is hurting the community of people with disabilities and now.

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Debra Ruh: they're going to create their own web, you know their own you know it's and and I don't care i'm an entrepreneur and i'm happy to be.

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Debra Ruh: You know I have, I appreciate everybody coming in and supporting our Community, but that's one reason why we're building billion strong because the Community needs to come out and say when you do like an index.

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Debra Ruh: But you but company can get 100% on that index, and they don't even have to be accessible or hire people with disabilities.

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Debra Ruh: That hurts the Community, people with disabilities we've got a problem with that, if you are an overlay that just charges $50.

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Debra Ruh: You know, a month and all these brands think that they're done by just checking these boxes, but it actually is not accessible to people using screen readers and other assistive technology, you are hurting our Community, so the reality is.

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Debra Ruh: The Community is going to find a very big global voice and talk about this and that's one reason at access chat why we have been very deliberate about who we have on the show, I mean.

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Debra Ruh: For example, we had a group on the show text help a few months, weeks ago and.

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Debra Ruh: They do not claim that they are overlay tools or that they're going to make you fully accessible but they're saying like Neil said, you can put.

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Debra Ruh: You know our product on your website, as you work to make it fully accessible and do all the different things you got to do, which cyber duck does you follow the standards, you have to code there you have to test with users that have.

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Debra Ruh: The things that work and sorry that they're there a process, and they can be a pain in the butt but that's how you assure humans can use it.

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Debra Ruh: And so i'm really upset as are so many people about what is happening in the United States with that one company that comes from another country, but you know.

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Debra Ruh: Only because, how could you not care about our Community I don't even understand why are you anyway, I understand the love of the money so.

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Debra Ruh: Anyway, it's it's really sickening to me what's happening, and that our National Federation of the blind will come out and say, if you are using this tool.

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Debra Ruh: We are coming after you so now they're going to come after the customers of this tool.

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Debra Ruh: And this tool is hurting other groups that are really trying to do the right thing anyway okay i'm going to obviously you can see i'm upset about this i'm going to shut up but.

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Debra Ruh: it's just I don't understand why we all can't work together and celebrate each other, I mean once again let's celebrate.

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Debra Ruh: Cyber duck wanting to make sure that what you create and build is accessible to everyone, all of the Communities, why would you want to build anything that wasn't accessible to all customers why I mean you know that's not good design so anyway.

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Matt Gibson: I share your feelings about overlay I think it's really dangerous.

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Matt Gibson: yeah what they're doing, partly because of RON said that it it teaches laziness it teaches people not to bother to do the hard work to learn.

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Matt Gibson: And to understand actually how to make accessible products, but it also teaches things like they there we've looked into that specific one that you're talking about.

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Matt Gibson: And things that it does aren't accessible and so like you said it's a massive missed opportunity on that, but not involving the Community in the development of their product.

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Matt Gibson: And I think knows right what you were saying before about the fact that the there is a a learning curve and it can in certain parts of the w can get can be quite a steep learning curve as well.

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Matt Gibson: And I think.

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Matt Gibson: that's definitely something that I think probably needs to be addressed in the future, making it more manageable and more successful in itself.

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Matt Gibson: and more comprehensible what I think thing we do internally is, we have our own version of the checklist which is again make putting it in language that designers developers with inside that up can understand.

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Matt Gibson: Rather than going, you know so they can still go to w can go through the full results but it's, making it a little bit more accessible and understandable for people who are perhaps more you know in some.

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Matt Gibson: roles in the company who aren't actually go to products but it's really important that they understand accessibility, so people will be working with marketing and things like that that.

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Matt Gibson: They still understand that they still understand the principles, but like you said that the the sort of incomprehensibility of some of that language leads to, then I mean we may remain a part of a number of communities and you should see the.

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Matt Gibson: The discussions that go on in those communities, because somebody could share, you know.

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Matt Gibson: they're not curious challenge sometimes and the discussion of how to deal with that challenge, you will have people, arguing that you know the grass is blue sky is red.

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Debra Ruh: join the standards boards conversations I was recorded the cognitive one early on, and I was like Oh well, i'm not sure what i'm doing here I am yeah this is going to drive my adh crazy so Neil stayed with it, but I was like yeah I don't think you'll need me so it's like wow.

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Debra Ruh: You know, thank goodness, for all these leaders that do these standards, you know that, because this it's a big deal, but at the same time.

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Debra Ruh: We all have to agree to what we're doing here I mean at some point, if you don't have standards, how do you.

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Debra Ruh: How do we know if we're done and I understand we still are struggling with that, but I just really wanted to have y'all on access chat because.

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Debra Ruh: I appreciate the leadership that you're showing I want other you know design agencies to show this kind of leadership and we are seeing it, but I still don't think we're seeing it enough it's still feels like often it's an afterthought I don't know if y'all agree with that, but.

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Debra Ruh: yeah and that's why I was impressed that cyber duck was really stepping up and not only making it in it, you know, making sure that this happened with all the work you're doing.

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Debra Ruh: But you're encouraging others to do it, including your partners, the vendors you're using and and supporting your clients, so that to me is leadership that we want to applaud, we want to applaud because.

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Debra Ruh: Some groups aren't doing that and we already went there, so I won't go there again but.

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Debra Ruh: So I just that was one reason why I wanted to invite you, because I really appreciate the leadership that you're smaller agency, but still global agency is doing so, I think you mentioned what you have 85 about 85 people all over the world.

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Debra Ruh: So I just think it's a very important and part of the conversation, and until we do that.

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Debra Ruh: Just like until we got the universities involved we're not going to solve all the problems, just like once again billion strong.

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Debra Ruh: If we don't get the Community to get together and to find our voices collectively globally, then there will be.

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Debra Ruh: Companies and investors that do what's happening in the United States.

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Debra Ruh: We will, for example, not make you know getting covert 19 vaccinations for people that are more vulnerable, you know there's a lot of work to do, but it's going to take all of us.

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Debra Ruh: And I just wanted to say, I appreciate that, but I know we're almost at the end and Neil, we want to thank our sponsors, but.

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Debra Ruh: Also matt and Ramon let's listen before we do that i'd love to just give you the final words of why.

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Debra Ruh: Why did y'all think this was good for business, why why I mean, once again, you talked about it a little bit, but, and also to make sure on if you would say on camera, you know how people can find it find get to cyber Doc and your social media accounts and stuff sure.

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Matt Gibson: I think it's good for business, because it is good for business, the one should have police so in the you know, one in five people in the UK and, as you know, sorry have disabilities but also.

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Matt Gibson: As you know, with the billion strong thing that a billion people worldwide have disabilities.

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Matt Gibson: So there's a business case to be made for making things accessible but it's also not just the business case is the right thing to do, I mean, obviously we public sector things.

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Matt Gibson: Some of the services that we design it's like it's literally a matter of life and death, if you don't make those things, accessible and inclusive, so you know not anything any designer wants to have that on their conscience when they're creating products so.

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Matt Gibson: Yes, there is a business case for it, but I think it's also it's just the right thing to do so, knowing anything about it.

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Ramon Lapenta: yeah though it's just the right thing to do here in the United States are the 60 over 60 million people that live with disabilities so.

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Ramon Lapenta: Apart from the business side, excluding all of those people just because it just doesn't make any sense so.

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Neil Milliken: Great yeah.

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Ramon Lapenta: we're happy to be part of it.

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Neil Milliken: And I love it when companies go, you know what we didn't get a better business case we're doing it because the right thing to do, because that's that's even better because you'll make the money anyway it's going to come to you.

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Neil Milliken: So that's fantastic and I need to thank the other companies that have recognized it's the right thing to do, and continue to support us over the years, BarcLars Access, Microlink and My Clear Text for keeping the lights on keeping us caption.

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Neil Milliken: So thank you guys.

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know.

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Debra Ruh: What is the cyber duck.

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Matt Gibson: Apologies yeah it's www dot survey well I don't know why we say that still these days.

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Matt Gibson: Cyber CIV or hyphen Doc Doc coda UK D si K and then on social on Twitter with sobered up UK excellent.

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Neil Milliken: Thank you look forward to you joining us.

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Debra Ruh: Yes, thank you both.

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Matt Gibson: An absolute pleasure.

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Ramon Lapenta: Thank you for inviting us.