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Accessibility – Must Contain Season 2 Ep. 5 with Beth Massura

July 26, 2022

Guest, Beth Massura (she/her), joins Kristin and Kristin to talk accessibility and inclusivity.

In this episode, learn more about how you and your fellow MOPs team members can work internally to create a more accessible and inclusive environment for employees, prospects, and customers.

If you’re looking for quick wins now, you can jump to 20:45.

Diversity, equality, and inclusion is a broad-reach topic and we can only cover so much in a 20-minute podcast. We hope you’ll act on what you’ve learned but we also encourage you to learn more on your own using the resources below. Remember, progress over perfection. Guest, Beth Massura (she/her), joins Kristin and Kristin to talk about accessibility and inclusivity. In the episode, learn more about how you and your fellow MOPs team members can work internally to create a more accessible and inclusive environment for employees, prospects, and customers.

A reminder that we have an open call for guests. Submit your buzzword using this form or type the link into your browser – https://bit.ly/must-contain-pitch.  We can’t wait to hear what topics you want to break down with us in Season 3. 

Transcript

Hosted by Kristin Anne Carideo(KAC) and Kristin Crowe (OGK)

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:00)
Hey, Containers, it’s Kristin Crowe. Today’s topic is a big one, and we know that this episode barely scratches the surface. If you’re interested in learning more about accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, please see the resources in the show notes. And now here’s the show.

Intro: (00:18)

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:54)
Hi, I’m Kristin Crowe.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (00:56)
And I’m Kristin Carideo.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:58)
And this is Must Contain the podcast from Etumos where we help explain the how of marketing, although we can’t always explain the why.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:05)
Join us every two weeks as we break down marketing and corporate topics and discuss what they really mean.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:11)
And if you enjoyed this podcast, please remember to like follow or subscribe in all your favorite podcast platforms.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:20)
Welcome back to Must Contain. Today we’re talking about something that every marketing operations person should probably know about and understand, but often hasn’t had to think about.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:30)
Yeah, we’re talking about accessibility today and specifically about how creating a more accessible digital experience should overlap with other things that marketing operations is doing.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:42)
And our guest today is Beth Massura, Marketing Operations Consultant here at Etumos. Beth, we are so delighted to have you. Do you want to give us a quick introduction and tell us why this is a topic that you’re passionate about?

Beth Massura: (01:54)
Hi everybody. Happy Disability Pride Month and BIPOC Mental Health Month. I’m Beth pronouns she/her and I’m disabled. I’ve been learning about accessibility for several years, mostly in the context of web development and digital marketing. But there’s always more to learn, and I continue to pick up more along the way.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (02:15)
Awesome. So what does the word accessibility mean in the context of marketing and marketing operations?

Beth Massura: (02:25)
So I think the first thing that usually comes to mind for people when they hear the word accessibility is laws and regulations that dictate you must be able to do this on your website, etc. But it’s really about more than that. It’s about trying to allow everybody to fully participate and have experiences with your organization and your marketing and communications and with your product or services. Accessibility is kind of the formal side of it, but inclusivity is more of the term where you really want to be thinking about.

So inclusivity, of course, is part of diversity, equity and inclusion, which is something that a lot of organizations are interested in. And oftentimes disability is left out of that. So having accessibility in mind is going to be really important for your organization and not just in your marketing and communications, but in all aspects of your organization, your products and services, human resources and your staff and culture. So accessibility touches on a lot of things.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (03:35)
So I imagine even though it touches a lot of things, many companies are focusing their DEI efforts in H.R. and in that culture development within the organization, concentrating on the people they hire, external messaging, what that looks like on their site. More about how things look and not really how they operate. How does that impact an organization’s ability to allow everyone to fully participate in the experience and what can and should companies be doing differently?

Beth Massura: (04:06)
So of course, if you have DEI within human resources, it’s around kind of a way of thinking or a way of approaching the work that you’re doing. So that’s helpful. But in the context of marketing operations, there’s a lot of technical elements which are going to be at the top of mind for somebody who’s working in HR. So in the past, a lot of times a web development team had to try to sort out, well, what are the what are the guidelines for accessible web design and try to weave that in, maybe you had an internal advocate or somebody who was interested or knowledgeable on the topic. But if you think about it, Web developers have had to account for rendering across different devices in the past.

When smartphones came out, you had somehow figure out how to code your websites that are actually appear correctly. And people can see your website or different browsers that have come and gone over the years. So the Web team has historically had to adapt and try to figure out how can we allow the most people in our potential audience to access our information online on our digital marketing properties. So I think that sometimes it’s it’s it’s a combination of having the the idea of accessible accessibility, being part of your organization’s culture and then having some of the technical know how of well, what exactly do you do to implement that in your marketing?

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (05:33)
So what issues with accessibility do you often see in kind of our realm, which is B2B marketing and B2B digital experiences? What are people not doing right?

Beth Massura: (05:44)
So I think kind of an easy stepping stone is how can this website be accessed from a variety of different assistive technologies? So it’s one thing if you are working on a computer and you have mouse control, you can see a screen, you have a keyboard, you can hear what’s coming out of the speakers. But that’s not the case for everyone.

Beth Massura: (06:06)
People are able to access information using different devices, screen readers. They might have they just might be reading text on a page and not hearing sounds. So that’s kind of an area where I think a lot of people are more familiar with in terms of accessibility. Some examples of specific items that people might do would be having alt text for anything that’s in an image. So if you have a picture or a graphic or a chart, you want to provide a text description to provide the full context of what is being communicated in that image. For somebody who cannot see that image for some reason, another example would be providing captions or transcripts for events audio, video.

That’s another area where I think people have been exposed to just from a scrolling through social media. When we’re in an office somewhere, we don’t want people to to hear it. Maybe you’re reading the captions along with it. So those are a couple examples where I think people are making some progress, but there’s still a lot out there that has not yet met those kind of entry level points of accessibility.

An area around accessibility that I think is not on people’s radar as much is going to be in the words themselves and the content on your websites or emails. In terms of is this the clearest way to communicate this idea and to convey what we’re asking of our audience? And so that can come into play for any number of reasons. It could be reading level. It could be someone who is not a native English speaker.

If the content is in English, it might be for people with cognitive disabilities or memory challenges or neurodivergent folks who maybe are going to be distracted by too much information. So future guidelines might start to account for some of those elements that are going to be not something you can easily just quickly scan, check to see if the code has the thing, but more in how your communication is crafted. And so that I think that’s another area where folks have an opportunity to expand their practice.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (08:28)
And I just wanted to put a finer point on when you’re talking about the way that people are referring to things like we really are talking about our favorite topic here on this podcast, the buzzwords and jargon, right? That’s kind of what you are – if your website is using a lot of buzzwords and jargon that are very specific to your language and your industry, that that, you know, might make some of that text inaccessible to to some of the folks you called out.

Beth Massura: (08:53)
Absolutely.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (08:55)
Some of those examples you gave, a lot of them had touched on the content, what the words say and what it looks like. And, you know, our audience is mostly ops folks, more technical oriented. So they might be thinking, I don’t do that, but I know there are things they can do. Where do you think marketing operations professionals can lead the way here? How can they get involved? What can they do?

Beth Massura: (09:21)
Absolutely. So everybody can be an advocate. Sometimes organizations are just overwhelmed by the idea of trying to make things more accessible. They don’t know where to start or they just think there’s just way too much. We’ll never be able to do it. And so having people within the team who say, no, this is important, we need to do something can be really helpful. And so some of the items that I mentioned earlier about having alt text or captions, that might be something that the marketing operation folks can immediately bring to someone’s attention and resolve fairly easily.

There’s not a lot of barrier to getting that done that might help start some of the internal conversations about why this is important overall. And in an organization, maybe in the past, you just kind of say, well, you know, this is the way we’ve always done it. We don’t really have customers who need this kind of way of accessing our site or information, and it’s just not our audience. But you’re never going to have them as an audience if they can’t get to you. If they can’t access your website or read your emails, you kind of got to get started. And then over time, it becomes easier and easier. And so if you have this internal advocate in your MOPS team, then it starts to become interwoven into the whole process. So accessibility is definitely very hard to accomplish if you add it as an afterthought. Hey, we’ve, you know, redesigned our website.

We’ve completed all our email templates, oh, as you know, connect everyone to access them. And it’s already too late, right? You’ve already done the work. If you have folks who are raising these kinds of questions earlier in the process, then you can weave it into your your design process when you’re developing your your marketing materials and your website and help find any potential barriers and address them before everything’s already live. A lot of disability activists try to convey that progress is better than perfect. There’s a lot of barriers out there and there will continue to be. But failing to take action because there’s just a lot to do is not making the situation better for people who are being excluded. So it’s better to focus on some areas, even if they’re small, where you can get started, where you can get people starting to think about accessibility.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (11:55)
So what does this mean like in practicality that you talked about adding alt text- You talked a little bit more about actual things, especially like website side that MOPs professionals should be thinking about. But if I’m say, somebody who owns some of those channels or owns the design and the production of emails and landing pages, can I just pull up the WCAG? What is that? The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and use those to kind of work through my website or what do I do with the information that I want to make this better? I want to make these things more accessible. What resources are out there to help me with that?

Beth Massura: (12:36)
Yeah, there’s absolutely a lot of resources out there. I would say that the guidelines themselves can be quite overwhelming and very detailed, very wordy. And so if you’re just trying to get started with a couple low hanging fruit items, then in addition to alt text, like I mentioned on your images, making sure that there’s the text description, some other examples might be setting up your forms in a way where there’s clear labels on each of the fields and telling people what they need to input. And then if they input something that’s not accessible, making sure there’s a clear error description of here’s the problem, here’s how to fix it, right?

So that helps people finish that task to actually get through and not get frustrated. So those are just a couple examples, but there’s a lot of sites out there that can really help describe a lot of these guidelines and more layperson’s terms so that you can apply them to your own work. Overall, I would say try to think about like, how could a person access this information in a different way and what can I do to make their access easier?

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (13:45)
So Kristin mentioned the WCAG and it has some guidelines that are available for folks, and you talked about some sites that might provide that in a more layman’s friendly terminology. Where can our audience go to get more practical tips about how to make these changes? Has anyone taken those guidelines and, you know, provided some of the barriers that you might be unintentionally implementing and may have examples or advice on how you can eliminate those barriers or prevent them from being created in the first place?

Beth Massura: (14:22)
Absolutely. So one that comes to mind is webaim.org. It basically breaks down the WCAG guidelines into very clear examples of here’s the problem, here’s what you need to do, and with some examples of how you might approach it. The guidelines themselves are not very prescriptive, though. They don’t tell you exactly what you need to do. They tell you what the goal is. But there might be multiple ways of getting there. And so this site like Web aim is going to break it down a little bit more for you so that you can actually understand. Well, here is what you’re trying to accomplish. And here’s an example, one way to do it. And it also has an easier to understand language. I would say.

So it’s easier for someone who might be just starting to learn some of these concepts or maybe is not quite a super technical web developer type person. They’ll be able to follow along and apply some of these these concepts to their work. And it also has a tool that you can use to do a first crawl of your website. So there are some things that are going to be technically right, technically wrong. And so those are some, again, easy, low hanging fruit that you want to attack first. So using their Web crawler will help identify some obvious things that you can make some changes to as kind of a head start.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (15:42)
I want to change gears just a little bit, because you brought something up in our pre-meeting that honestly, you know, I had never because of, you know, my privilege, have never really thought about before, which is the profession of marketing operations in terms of the accessibility of the tools that we’re required to be in day and day out, the MAPs, the CRMs. Do you find those tools have done a good job of designing for inclusivity and that, you know, our profession itself has accessibility within those tools?

Beth Massura: (16:14)
So I’d say it’s a work in progress. I think more and more the tools that we use are identifying that there are access issues with the way that their interfaces are developed. And so some of them will have a road map showing, hey, here’s an element that we’re trying to change. We’re working on it. But I do think that that can come into play in terms of when you are trying to get into the marketing operations profession, can you even use the tools? And so some folks might be excluded from even getting into this kind of career because the tools aren’t made in a way that they can easily use them.

Now, every every tool has pros and cons in terms of how it’s built for accessibility today. Let’s hope that over time that more of the accessibility issues are highlighted as priorities and that are resolved. I do think that the remote work aspect for a lot of marketing operations practitioners is definitely a big perk because a lot of specialty mobility related disabilities be preventing people from being able to participate in an office setting. And so that’s another element that I think comes into play within the marketing operations field is that a lot of the work can be done on a computer, doesn’t matter where you are.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (17:35)
I think you make a really great point that there’s pros and cons and some companies are doing it better than others and some products have more accessibility options than others and are more inclusive than others. Where do you see some companies or brands leading with accessibility in mind? What do you see people doing right now? That might be a good example of leading with accessibility.

Beth Massura: (17:59)
So some large enterprise companies, so Microsoft is one example or some of the large consulting firms have initiatives around disability inclusion. A lot of times they’re going to be in the area of hiring and work culture. So identifying groups of people who have been historically excluded from the hiring process and developing programs to make sure that they’re set up to succeed.

So that’s one area I think that there is more visibility into the fact that disabled people are very talented and finding them the right roles where they can really thrive and help make a difference and for an organization, that’s that’s going to be really important, especially as there’s still some work force challenges I’ll say I think that people will have to get out of their their old habits and identify, oh, who are groups of people that we we just haven’t even considered in the past.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (19:03)
So switching gears back into kind of thinking about the design of websites, emails, landing pages, etc., I, I think in my past life I’ve had some discussions and arguments where like inclusive design can sometimes tend to have a simpler look and feel than maybe what’s strictly considered to be, you know, modern design. You know, thinking about those endlessly scrolling web pages. Do you have any insight into how to negotiate with teams that may be resistant to that simpler design option? Or is that just a problem of creativity?

Beth Massura: (19:41)
Well, I have a design background, too, so I’m going to go out there and just say it. If you’re a good designer, then you’re going to figure out the best way to communicate your message to most people. If you’re communicating in a way where people can’t understand it, that’s not communication. So I think there’s kind of a bit of a mindset of like, what’s more important, making something fancy or making something useful and understandable.

And so I think that there are definitely design trends that are that are taking that into consideration. And I think that the somewhat new, at least in the, you know, general culture, the concepts of design, thinking and inclusive design are both in that sense, focusing on what are you trying to accomplish, what are you trying to solve, as opposed to just fine art type things.

Beth Massura: (20:31)
The design field is shifting in that sense.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (20:35)
Okay. There is so much more we could say about this topic, but we are going to try and distill it down into three takeaways as a place to start.

So takeaway number one, making changes that support accessibility can initially feel overwhelming. But there are things that we control as MOPs professionals that can help drive our organizations to think more about inclusive design in the products and services that we’re supporting. And progress is better than perfection. We’re going to provide some of the resources that we called out in the show notes to help get you thinking about how you can make an impact for your organization.

Number two, if your information isn’t accessible, you’re leaving customers and revenue behind. It’s also required by the government and some larger companies. So if you work with those entities, you need to be thinking about this. But accessibility matters because allowing everybody to fully participate in digital information is really important. And a failure to include people is making a choice to actively exclude them.

Number three, creating truly accessible experiences requires a shift of mindset and sometimes your organization’s priorities. You need to plan to make the information accessible to everyone from the start designing and developing websites, emails, products, events, etc. with an inclusive mindset rather than trying to go back and make it accessible later.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (21:56)
And that’s it for this episode of Must Contain will be back in two weeks with another great MOPs topic. Until then, remember, just ask for the sport engineer right off the bat. This episode was produced by Kristin Crowe, Kristin Carideo, Lindsay Walter, Ali Stoltzfus, and Claudia Lopez. Theme Music by Rusty Hall. Special thanks to Beth Massura. And that’s it for Must Contain. I’m Kristin Crowe and we’ll see you in two weeks.

 

Resources:

webaim.org – https://webaim.org/ –  Web Accessibility in Mind
WCAG 2.1 – https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/ – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The A11Y Project – https://www.a11yproject.com/ – focuses on digital experience accessibility
Salesforce.com Trailhead – https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/content/learn/trails/get-started-with-web-accessibility – learn what accessibility is and how to make websites and apps accessible to people with disabilities.

 

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