One Year of Accessibility Consulting: My Experience and Learnings

Hello, everyone! A year ago, I announced I had left Microsoft and was joining Converge Accessibility as a consultant. In that announcement, I shared what I loved about my Microsoft experience and my goals for moving forward. It’s been a rewarding and fulfilling year, and I want to tell you a bit about what I’ve been doing, who I’ve been working with, and what I’ve learned along the way.

What I Do

As a consulting shop, Converge Accessibility helps organizations of all sizes and sectors improve their digital accessibility and comply with accessibility standards and regulations. We provide accessibility audits and support policy development. We also help organizations learn about accessibility standards, and how to implement compliance programs.

I joined Converge last year to share my knowledge and expertise on regulatory affairs, procurement policy, standards development, and digital transformation with clients and to help them develop accessibility best practices, tools, and resources.

Whom I Work With

Along with my colleagues, I’ve had the privilege of working with diverse clients, from large IT companies to small city governments, non-US federal governments, and law practices. Here are some examples of the projects I’ve been involved in:

  • I helped the City of Centennial, Colorado, develop a digital accessibility plan to meet their new state obligations under the new Colorado HB 21-1110. This opens local governments to lawsuits by incentivizing plaintiffs with damages of $3,500 per claim plus attorney’s fees. I conducted an accessibility assessment of their website and online services, provided recommendations and guidance, and trained their staff to create and maintain accessible digital content.
  • I worked with Accessibility Standards Canada, a new federal agency, to support them in developing standards to implement the Accessible Canada Act. It’s a privilege to contribute to Canada’s efforts to craft policies and standards to make its government more accessible to its eight million people with disabilities.
  • I collaborated with Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, a legal firm, in advising their private sector clients in implementing accessibility regulations in the US and elsewhere.

What I Learned

One of my key learnings is that while I worked for a large company with high resources and accessibility experts, and we accomplished a lot, many organizations in the US and elsewhere are just starting their accessibility work. They may not have the awareness, the skills, or the budget to make accessibility a priority. They may face barriers such as a lack of leadership support, technical challenges, or legal uncertainties. They may need more education, guidance, and encouragement to make accessibility happen.

That’s why I love being a consultant. I bring all the goodness I learned from my years at Microsoft, working with industry and governments worldwide to help public and private organizations that are newer to accessibility shape their policy and standards work, overcome longstanding accessibility challenges, and achieve their accessibility goals. I get to see the impact of my work on their users, employees, and communities. I get to learn from their experiences, their perspectives, and their feedback. And I get to grow as a professional and as a person.

What's Next

I’m looking forward to continuing my journey as a consultant and working with more clients.

If you’re interested in working with me or learning more about what Converge Accessibility does, please feel free to contact me at my email address (laura.ruby@convergeaccessibility.com). I’d love to hear from you and see how we can collaborate.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more updates!

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