This past August, I started my position as UX designer at IBM Accessibility. I was new to the team, and relatively new to the world of inclusive design—but only from a designer’s perspective. Born profoundly deaf, I brought with me a lifetime of experiences with accessibility (or lack thereof, in many cases).

My second week on the job, our team met face to face (many of us work remotely in different cities). I was thrilled to meet my new colleagues, among whom was Brent Shiver, a talented software engineer who also happens to be deaf.

Alexandra’s CART services in action – In a video call between Brent and Alexandra,  Alexandra has a view of Brent’s interpreter who speaks on behalf of Brent. Alexandra follows along by reading the live caption done by a CART writer which is placed beneath the video.

Brent uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate, whereas I am an oral communicator, relying on digital hearing through Cochlear Implants. These differences worried me: there is a huge rift in the D/deaf world between the Deaf (people who sign) and the deaf/Hard of Hearing (people who do not). Fortunately, my fears were assuaged immediately.

Brent and I are equally passionate about fighting for the same thing: access. As Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) who are striving to be leaders in our respective and joint communities.  We understand that no matter where you come from, or how you move through the world, everyone deserves to be included.

Our first-hand knowledge of what it is like to be PwDs is an asset to our team for many reasons. Brent and I are able to collaborate on making sure IBM Design serves and includes both Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) communities. Because disability occurs on a spectrum, we offer unique perspectives as people who operate differently not only from hearing people, but also from each other. For instance, Brent uses an ASL interpreter for both online and in-person meetings, while I speak but rely heavily on lipreading. My need to see people’s faces clearly necessitates a CART transcriber on video conference calls, due to the poor video quality. Though we communicate using entirely different methods, we both share the experience of living in a sometimes inaccessible world.

As both creators and beneficiaries of this technology, it is only natural that Brent and I help lead the team, offering our insights and advocating for diverse solutions. IBM’s commitment to accessibility for its employees (providing ASL interpreters and CART services, for example) has given us the ability to participate as leaders in the design process. I am proud to be on this team, and am excited for the future of IBM Accessibility, as well as the company at large, as we move towards a more inclusive, accessible world.

Was this article helpful?

More from Business transformation

Putting AI to work in finance: Using generative AI for transformational change

2 min read - Finance leaders are no strangers to the complexities and challenges that come with driving business growth. From navigating the intricacies of enterprise-wide digitization to adapting to shifting customer spending habits, the responsibilities of a CFO have never been more multifaceted. Amidst this complexity lies an opportunity. CFOs can harness the transformative power of generative AI (gen AI) to revolutionize finance operations and unlock new levels of efficiency, accuracy and insights. Generative AI is a game-changing technology that promises to reshape…

IBM and AWS: Driving the next-gen SAP transformation  

5 min read - SAP is the epicenter of business operations for companies around the world. In fact, 77% of the world’s transactional revenue touches an SAP system, and 92% of the Forbes Global 2000 companies use SAP, according to Frost & Sullivan.   Global challenges related to profitability, supply chains and sustainability are creating economic uncertainty for many companies. Modernizing SAP systems and embracing cloud environments like AWS can provide these companies with a real-time view of their business operations, fueling growth and increasing…

Re-evaluating data management in the generative AI age

4 min read - Generative AI has altered the tech industry by introducing new data risks, such as sensitive data leakage through large language models (LLMs), and driving an increase in requirements from regulatory bodies and governments. To navigate this environment successfully, it is important for organizations to look at the core principles of data management. And ensure that they are using a sound approach to augment large language models with enterprise/non-public data. A good place to start is refreshing the way organizations govern…

IBM Newsletters

Get our newsletters and topic updates that deliver the latest thought leadership and insights on emerging trends.
Subscribe now More newsletters