Co-Founder of Diamond and Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Key Topics:Accessibility, Software Development, Inclusive Design, Digital Media, Search Engines, Performance Management
Joe Devon is the Co-Founder of Diamond – a digital agency that builds accessible experiences, co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Chair of the GAAD Foundation. His goal is to influence every developer and corporation to build their digital products with inclusive design in mind.
Joe recently featured in Onalytica's Diversity & Inclusion report.
How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?
I started programming at 13 years old when my parents bought me an Apple IIe, and started programming soon after. My first program a month later was a translation program that would convert the English Alphabet to Hebrew.
By the 1990s, I headed up tech support for a Search Engine Company (Compassware) that was around before Alta Vista, let alone Google. From there I was hired as an early employee at Predictive Systems (PRDS), and we took it public 4 years later.
In 2008, I got a gig with the team that architected AmericanIdol.com, which led to a lot of interesting media work, including building reality show voting apps.
In 2011, I started Diamond, a Digital Agency that builds accessible experiences that grew out of the same team that I worked with on American Idol. Around the same time, I co-founded Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) by writing a blog post proposing a day of awareness. To my utter shock it went viral and continues to grow every year.
What sub-topics are you most passionate about?
Accessibility in the Enterprise, Data Science, Healthcare.
Who influences you within these topics?
Ted Drake, Mike Shebane, Larry Goldberg, Lainey Feingold, Jared Smith.
What challenges are brands facing in this space?
- Not having enough People with Disabilities on staff in the right roles, so they are missing the “Why”.
- Lack of enough accessibility subject matter experts available to hire.
- Companies are now just realizing the advantages of creating accessible products and properties that go beyond doing the right thing.
- Companies are having to fix products to make them accessible, versus building them accessibly by design.
- Inclusive design needs to be a priority when building out digital products, as it can greatly enhance the customer experience for an oftentimes neglected part of the customer base. If everything is designed, developed, and built with “accessibility in mind” from the start, businesses can adapt quicker and more efficiently to evolving technology to make things easier for people with disabilities.
What do you think the future holds in this space?
The culture of software development is slowly going to change and incorporate accessibility as a core requirement. We are working very hard on this.
What brands are leading the way in this space?
Diamond is leading the way for agencies in the space, building accessibility into all of our products. A few brands include McDonald’s, Intuit, Apple, Comcast, VMWare, and OLG.
If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?
Product innovation, accessibility consulting, blog posts, accessibility training, website and mobile app development.
What are your passions outside of work?
Chess. Tennis. Hockey. Reading. Podcasts.
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