Key Topics:Digital Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion
Eduardo Meza-Etienne is a digital accessibility expert, diversity and inclusion, and business strategist. With a background in economics and international trade, his career expands to other areas that include business development, project management and accessibility. Eduardo has worked with many enterprise multi-brand and multinational clients in different industries helping them on their journey to embrace accessibility. He is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies and holds two Master's degrees in Accounting and Finance and International Finance. Eduardo is passionate about helping his clients integrate accessibility throughout their processes and development of products.
Eduardo recently featured in Onalytica's Diversity & Inclusion report.
How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?
I first got involved in this space after suffering a brain aneurysm and experiencing first hand what it means to learn how to walk again and deal with short term memory issues.
All of this prepared me to begin working in the area of reasonable accommodations (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) by evaluating the needs of people with different disabilities and making assistive technology recommendations. After that I began traveling the United States training both IRS and SSA disabled employees on how to use the different technologies to help them on their daily work. After a few years in this field I transitioned to the digital accessibility space which was a perfect segway. During that time a new set of accessibility standards was published, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, and my responsibility was to advise our enterprise clients such as HP and VMware on how to embed these requirements into the development lifecycle of new products. Throughout my journey I have had the opportunity to work with iconic brands in various sectors such as financial services, Federal, state and local governments, hospitality, luxury brands, transportation, apparel, to mention a few.
What sub-topics are you most passionate about?
Some sub topics that I am very passionate about have to do with individual with disabilities and the ability to provide them with equal employment opportunities regardless of their disability.
Who influences you within these topics?
There are many people that influence on these topics that include Debra Ruh, she was my former boss and a Mentor while working at TecAccess. Also Frances West, IBM’s first Chief Accessibility Officer. Jenny Lay-Flurie, Microsoft Chief Accessibility Officer. Last but not least is Sheri Byrn-Haber, Accessibility Architect at VMware; I had the opportunity to work with Sheri when she worked at McDonald’s.
What challenges are brands facing in this space?
The Unite States has a very litigious environment when it comes to this space and therefore the majority of the brands are acting on it based on risk mitigation which is one of the main drivers for getting on the accessibility bandwagon. Other drivers include the fact that they can increase their marketplace when they realize that one in five individuals in the United States has some type of a disability and that excludes their friends and family.
Other challenges include competing priorities trying to meet financial commitments and resource allocation.
What do you think the future holds in this space?
The future can only get better in this space. Accessibility statements is now becoming a must have on websites just like Privacy statements. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are now being updated more frequently. Between version 1.0 and 2.0 nine years went by and then 10 years went by until 2.1 came out in 2018. By the end of the summer we are expecting to see version 2.2 and there is a draft being finalized for version 3.0 to be finalized in 2023, which is expected to bring additional clarity around conformance levels.
In addition to that, automated testing tools are continuing to evolve to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect patterns and help in the development process. Coupled with that accessibility consulting companies like eSSENTIAL Accessibility are development very robust platforms and system of records that integrate with existing process that will allow accessibility to be integrated from the very beginning of a new project.
What brands are leading the way in this space?
Microsoft has done a fantastics job at incorporating accessibility on the majority of their products, HP and Dell from a hardware perspective, when it comes to software also VMWare is leading the way. From a financial services perspective Capital One has done a fantastic job. in the social media space we have seen how LinkedIN and Twitter have been adding new accessibility features. Other brands include Adobe, Amazon Apple and Google.
If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?
Webinars, speaking opportunities and whitepapers.
What are your passions outside of work?
Spending quality time with my family, traveling, wine tasting and mixed martial arts.
What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?
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