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August 29th Transcript,

Why Access Matters: A podcast by Accessibrand (thoughts and talks about accessibility)


“Make your branding Accessible!” What do you think when you hear that? Do you think of an accessible website, more accessible ads and marketing materials, or something different? Maybe you’re a business owner, worried about the extra work and money you’d need to put into it. Or maybe you’re one of the people who directly benefits from accessibility. Have you ever had difficulty accessing something or some place because the design or layout made things inaccessible? It’s super frustrating! Take a moment to consider how you interpret brand accessibility.




Now that you’ve thought about what “accessible branding” means to you, let’s dig into some concepts and facts surrounding it:


Universal design is a concept that we talk about in this episode. It encompasses the design of buildings, products, or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability, or other factors.


According to Wikipedia, “The term “universal design” was coined by the architect Ronald Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.


Universal design emerged from slightly earlier barrier-free concepts, the broader accessibility movement, and adaptive and assistive technology. [It] also sought to blend aesthetics into these core considerations. As life expectancy rises and modern medicine increases the survival rate of those with significant injuries, illnesses, and congenital disabilities, there is a growing interest in universal design. There are many industries in which universal design has strong market penetration, but many others have not yet been adopted to any great extent. Universal design is also being applied to the design of technology, instruction, services, and other products and environments.”


If you are interested in more about this concept (especially if you are a designer), we encourage you to read about Selwyn Goldsmith, who’s the author of Designing for the Disabled, who pioneered the concept of free access for people with disabilities. His most significant achievement was the creation of the dropped curb – now a standard feature of the built environment. We have put resources about him and the concept of “universal design” for you in the description of this episode.




But let us come back to our main concept in this episode: Accessible branding. As we have said in our previous podcasts, we want to reiterate that, rather than limit it to “high-need persons” or “persons with disabilities,” we believe that accessibility is one of the greatest tools in our belts. Accessibility is really for anyone and everyone regardless of visible or invisible disability. This drives one of the themes in our podcast: Accessibility is necessary for some but beneficial for all of us.




You might ask yourself, “What’s so important about accessibility from a designing point of view?” Considering stats around the relation between “universal design” and accessibility, we can highlight some key points:


  1. “Universal design” has 8 general goals rooted in evidence-based design”.
  2. These goals are: Body Fit, Comfort, Awareness, Understanding, Wellness, Social Integration, Personalization, and Cultural Appropriateness.
  3. The first four goals are oriented to human performance: the measure of a body, the body in motion, understanding, and learning.
  4. Wellness bridges human performance and social participation. The last three goals address social participation outcomes. The definition and the goals are expanded in the textbook “Universal Design: Creating Inclusive Environments.”


But beyond the thoughts & theories and aiming for a better understanding of how important it is to break down barriers, I talked to Jessica Oddi, who is one of our team members here at Accessibrand! Jessica introduces herself as “A disabled designer with an ethical approach” and we definitely agree!


Jessica has a deep love for design. Her espresso-fueled craft is combined with an underlying passion for disabled spaces. Now specializing in accessibility and representation for everyone! Based in Canada, she collaborates to empower communities, and has had the privilege of working alongside incredible groups across the globe.


When not obsessing over typefaces, Jess gets involved in disability-focused campaigns, from “The Disabled Life” with her sister to “Intimately Disabled” with dear friends. She also volunteers in design spaces.


In this conversation, she spoke about her lived experience and addressed many key points about how to move toward a more accessible world.




Why Access Matters: A podcast by Accessibrand (thoughts and talks about accessibility)


Jolene MacDonald: Hi everyone. My name is Jolene MacDonald, and I am the host of Why Access Matters, which is Accessibrand's new podcast. And today we're talking with Jessica Oddi for our third episode, and to hear her thoughts and experiences about accessibility. So, thank you, Jess, for coming.


Jessica Oddi: Thank you so much for having me, Jolene. I'm excited to talk today.


Jolene MacDonald: Awesome. So maybe we start with a little introduction about yourself.


Jessica Oddi: Absolutely. So, I'm Jess. I am a self-proclaimed disabled designer because I focus on digital accessibility in web and social media, as well as disability representation through illustration. So those are my passions. I use she/her pronouns as well as disability-first language. That's my personal preference; and I am a white wheelchair user. And right now, I'm sitting in my office.


Jolene MacDonald: Thank you for that. That's amazing. I know that you've sort of been becoming a little bit more famous online. We're pretty grateful, Jess. You're a part of our extended collective team and you help a lot with many of our projects to make sure they're on par with the- digital accessibility, but you're also becoming a bit of an influencer, I think! I know maybe you don't self-tether yourself that, but I do in the arena of accessibility and inclusive design. So can you tell us a little bit about your effort sort of - in the experiences with that, so to speak,


Jessica Oddi: Honestly, I've been ridiculously grateful for all of those experiences because I definitely wouldn't call myself an influencer in that sense of like, “Oh, I work with brands and I get, you know, to like persuade things.” But, you know, as far as actually influencing people to start to care about accessibility and getting to be one of the many advocates out there and be recognized for that is - been so surreal. You know, because it really just started with me sharing the things that I've learned through the community and through spaces to make things accessible for like, my friends and my online spaces, because as we know digital accessibility, isn't up to par. So, I mean, physical accessibility isn't even up to par. So, you know, to then be able to just share that and have people interested in knowing my perspective, but as well as putting the importance of other people's perspective has been really cool. And I'd like to say that, “Oh, you know, I pushed and tried to make these connections”, but I was grateful that they came to be, and we bonded over other things and mutually you know, beneficial things in many other marginalized communities and it's really come a long way.


Jolene MacDonald: Well, I think you've been instrumental in teaching us more. I think one of the things we talk about is that I don't think there's anyone that's an expert in all things, disability and inclusion, because not all of us have that same lived experience, but we're certainly happy to have you as part of our team. And I know you've had some really cool experiences like you, were - you spoke- was it in the Google video you were in? I think I was watching that. And you were doing some other talks, like there's been a, quite a few of them in the last year, right?


Jessica Oddi: Yeah. so, so the agency reached out to me last year to be a part of the Google event for accessibility awareness. And there was like a whole panel talk about it. And I got to be one of the video features you know, me and I believe Paul, Rosaro got to be one of them as well. And it was just like, they flew to Canada, they had a Toronto film crew come in and like Geneva, the director was such a blast to work with. She was so accommodating too, of like my accessibility the whole time. And then that really like reached out to so many other, you know, then platforms where people would be like, “Oh, I heard your talk” or “I saw your feature and I'd really love for you to like, come on and talk about, you know, this perspective.” Even some opportunities that come through because I volunteer with – where- the black designers on slack and, you know, a lot of us would chat like Zaria and I would- are gonna be having a chat with Ally next week where we're going to talk about global accessibility awareness day and then how to also talk about the intersections of the black community and other disabled communities and things like that. So it's just, it's just really cool that we've been able to then, you know, like one journey leads to the other and then I get to do more talks and open up to more different experiences. And I'm learning along the way [Yeah] on new things and new accessibility things as well.


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. I mean, there's so many facets to all of digital accessibility as a whole, right. And we can only all work together, I think, to learn more about that. And I think one of the things we wanna talk about too is, what is your message to people who don't know about accessibility? Like how do you approach it? Many are afraid of it, especially business owners. So how do you bring up that topic? Or what's your suggestion or your advice to help them through that?


Jessica Oddi: Yeah, I know, right. A lot of times people are so afraid. And I think, especially in, you know, the way that we're worried about backlash, we're worried about doing it wrong. We're worried about, you know- I have imposter syndrome calling myself an accessibility expert because I'm worried that it's a big responsibility and I don't want that to feel like such a big responsibility that people don't do it because it's very important. And I personally like the approach that accessibility is a journey, not a destination, we're always forever learning new techniques, new ways to adapt to new technologies. And so, my approach that I like to kind of remind people, is that: a) We're human, everyone's gonna mess up. If we were doing this field to worry about being perfect, we wouldn't be in this field and we wouldn't do anything. [Yeah]. And to, you know, to just stress that this is a basic human right.


You know, while we get the privilege to talk about whether we're gonna add accessibility or not, there are disabled people out there fighting for accessibility just to live and just to experience life. So, I like to kind of put that perspective back into play that, you know, it's not about how it's gonna benefit the business, even though it's going to benefit the business. Like there are so many positives for it, but my approach is always, you know, we're doing this because people have the right to be able to access this space. And that's, that's the reason why we're doing it. So it doesn't matter if we mess up. In fact, I welcome criticism and I want that because if someone comes to me and says, Jess, that actually didn't work. For me, like I just learned on a presentation that I did the other week that I used to write out the pronunciation of my name in alt text and someone who uses a braille translator said, well, actually, that's not good for people who use braille readers because it then spells out the word wrong. Oh yeah. And I was like, thank you for that. You were totally right. And I pivoted my entire presentation. I was like, forget what I just said. That was wrong. Sure, it worked for a couple screen readers, but it doesn't work for every platform. So, to me, that's the beauty in then being able to change and grow and then be better in the future.


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. I know we've had a couple incidences over the last year that people point out, you know, errors or whatever, even on our own website, like these things happen, but there's also the point of people, you know, talking about how do you wanna put it? Nobody's perfect. And in our company, we like to make it a learning experience as well, with people who are learning about accessibility. But it's, I think it's when people say, no, you're wrong and I'm right - but it's like Photoshop. There's so many different ways to do the same thing. You know, as graphic designers, I think there's so much for us to learn and we have to continue to learn forever, not just to keep up with software, but now with accessibility. And I think that was, you know, talking about, you know, especially business owners, also other creatives, this has been landing on our plates and we need to integrate it into our workflow. And it's very daunting for, for some of them sometimes. So any advice for other designers?


Jessica Oddi: Absolutely. You know, plug into the communities. I've learned so many different accessibility techniques from following people that aren't graphic designers, by following people who aren't necessarily in the design field. And it's just about starting somewhere, starting small, even. I mean, there's introductory courses that are all listed on, I think, the Ally website and the resources; there's courses you can take there's, you know, full out groups of disability, testers that you can search for that can help test products and get people's opinions in. It's all just like, you know, it's all user research and it's all - you gotta absorb these things. I try to follow as many people in the advocacy field as I can. And sometimes it has nothing to do with digital design at all. I'm following writers, I'm following lawmakers, I'm following people who I love and adore, and that's how I was able to grow. So expand your circles. [Yeah] You know, if we're talking about accessibility, but you don't even, you haven't really even connected with like disabled people or, you know, people with disabilities then how are we supposed to build things for them if we're not involving them? So, you know, you don't have to do it all. You can start one thing at a time and just go from there.


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. I think that's really great advice. I know as designers, there's always parameters to work and I think we need to look at accessibility. It's just another parameter that we have to integrate into how we do our projects. Based on that sort of discussion, obviously there's an increase with, you know, the knowledge and discussion about diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in our society, especially through COVID, but - and like the awareness of it all. But what would you like to see in general? Like, I guess for the public's approach to accessibility and then especially inclusive design, it has such a vital role. It's not just for people with disabilities. Like how would you encompass, sort of, that discussion? What, what do you, what are your thoughts on that?


Jessica Oddi: Oh my gosh. Like -


Jolene MacDonald: I mean, that's a big pan of worms, but -


Jessica Oddi: So many different categories, right? Because on a societal level, we need to break it down to even - I wanna go beyond acceptance - but even just understanding, I mean, as far as we've come in DEI work and in all these things, I still find disability is like the last thing to be considered. Like there are so many people who are even just afraid to use the word disability because they think it's offensive or they think it's something that's like, oh, just the medical model where it's just something about our impairment or something like that. When it's a whole community, it's a whole social construct, so to speak, because we're a group that's come together that have similarities. And we're one of the largest groups. Like I think everyone in every marginalized community can also become or are disabled at some point in their lives. So for such like a vast group and such a large spectrum of opinions in it, what I wanna see is more of a human approach to things again. As much as I love is how much awareness and how many people are talking about it, what concerns me is the labels of expert or just compliance focus above putting people first and involving disabled people in those conversations. It's a lot of, “Well, here's the test. You have to do this check mark.” But as we know with accessibility, what works for one might not work for another. [Yeah] So I wanna see more disabled people in the job. I wanna see more disabled people being accommodated in the process of getting to accessibility and being compensated for their work because you know, like me being physically disabled, but really many of the only things I can speak of is just dexterity and things like that. And I've learned from blind users or people with other disabilities, I would never speak for someone who has autism, because I don't have autism. I cannot speak for them. I cannot be that expert. [Yeah] But what I can do is bring those people to the table with me. [Yeah] And try and get as many perspective[s] as we can together. So, as we like increasingly learn so much more and as these apps get so sophisticated with how much they're trying to adapt and change, I think we need to remember to like bring people back to it and make sure that it's working for us and with us, you know,


Jolene MacDonald: Like that's, that's a whole thing unto itself. We talked with another guest about making sure that it's not just a policy. It's not just the check marks. It's, you know, paying people with disabilities to do the work; it's vital to it. You see, you know, all these projects, they have millions of dollars of funding and the consultants are making six figures and they have to consult with people with disabilities. But you're gonna say, “oh, can you volunteer?” Or “I'm gonna give you a gift card.” No, that's the problem. I mean, that's a whole government issue unto itself about, you know, being on disability and the lack of funding and housing, like that's all over the news, but like, it's not that difficult to meet with experts. You do it for the dentist, you do it for the doctor, they're the experts. And then every disability has such a spectrum of its own. Like, you know, visually impaired is, you know, there's colorblind is all the way to completely blind and all- everywhere in the middle. And the ASD spectrum- not one person is ever the same. Like it's, there's, there's just such a magnitude of it, but that's why we, we promote a lot, obviously user testing and getting people that live it to know, and the experience of, you know, marginalized community versus regular. It's totally different altogether too. So that’s -


Jessica Oddi: Oh yeah, there's so many intersecting identities within our community that make lived experiences so different. I mean, as much as I deal with accessibility issues, I know I'm very privileged in the fact that I'm from a middle-class family that can afford things when things go wrong or have to rely on you know, maybe applying for a grant or for, you know, a donation or things like that. But I can do that because it's my sister and I, so we often get like, oh, it's both of you. Okay. And like, so just the way everybody approaches things is so different. And for me, the very core of what accessibility is, is me watching all the other disabled people be so darn clever just to exist. Like we create so many solutions on a daily basis. I am a self-manager for my own care to have PSW’s come in and take care of me. I schedule people. I am good at management skills because of that. I am good at self-advocacy because I have to call and ream out a company every time they tell us it's gonna take a month for a part for our chair to come in [Yeah]. So like, we have so many skills and we have so many things that we've had to do. So why the heck not pay us [Yeah] to then make sure your stuff's gonna be good. We're here. And we are valuable, you know? [Yeah].


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. I think it's- like, we talked about the movement about everyone talking about it, but who's doing it and how are they doing it? Like policies are one thing. And I'm grateful for, you know, obviously all of Canada [to] have some fantastic laws. We obviously talk about leading with education and empathy, I know you do, because when you just go forward with threatening lawsuits, nobody ever learns to fix that mistake in the first place and they need to see that, they need to understand why it's so important. But you know, as the laws change, a lot of people are still just ticking off the check boxes and there's companies being hired to consult for the Accessible Canada act. And those companies actually don't know anything about accessibility. They don't have necessarily lived disability experience. So I really would love to see myself more of that change as well.


I know that, you know, it's well-meaning and everyone needs projects, but you know, those laws coming down should make the organizations and the higher levels think a little bit differently as well. That's my hope, but the DE and I, so Diversity Equity Inclusion, it often doesn't have disability. So I know that they're starting to use the acronym idea. So inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. I hope that people can start to sort of, I don't wanna say micromanage it, but look at it with that, that lens to see further into it. And you know, there is a lot of people that say, well, you can't do that ‘cause you're not an expert. I'm like, but who is really an expert? And even people call me an expert. I'm like, no, no, I am far from the expert. But our team collectively become the experts ‘cause we have so much different, you know, backgrounds with work, experience and disability and whether it's ourselves or family or children, there's just, just so much more. But I know that was such a loaded question that we sort of went off the rails there, but it's going back to the, it's not just for people with disabilities. I think that's where people forget. [Yes]. It's, it's really not just for someone who's blind or not someone who can't use a keyboard like or mouse. Like it's way more than that. It's seniors. It's English is a second language, you know, there's so much more, I mean it's [Yeah]. Do you have anything more to add to that one?


Jessica Oddi: Yes. No, because it's true. And you know what I like to consider first of all, accessibility benefits everyone. And I don't mean that in the generic, like I'll always put disabled people first, but yeah, it, it benefits everyone and what people don't realize - my friend Carly Drew and I always discuss this kind of stuff - that everyone has access needs. You just don't realize it because they're accommodated by society. The fact that we need public washrooms, that's an accessibility need because you need to go to the washroom while you're not in the comfort of your home. Yet it's so easily accessed to you that you don't think twice about it. You know, people requesting meetings at a certain time in the day, respecting their work boundaries, that's an access need. You know, you being able to turn off your audio on your phone because you don't wanna interrupt other people or maybe you don't have access to your headphones at the moment, so you want captions because you can't use your volume or maybe your volume button broke, guess what? Oh, that's an access need. So, all of these things we talk about, we think accessibility for disabled people is different. But the only difference is, is that we're not getting the resources we require and you are, and like on a basic level. So, these needs might look different to people who don't need it, but accessibility at its core is just the usability of an environment of a product of a service.


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. We talk in one of our seminars about the personas or like the spectrum of access needs, so to speak. And it's like, you could be in a restaurant and it's sunny outside and you're wearing glasses and the menu is on shiny paper; as a designer, we would think about those things and that's also an access need. So that is accessibility. People think it's just like, so, you know, cut and dry, but it's not. That's why we choose different things for different applications or for trade show displays. Like it's - design is not the end. It's at the beginning and it's in products, it's in food packaging. I mean, we've seen braille starting to be integrated into many packages. However that still doesn't help all blind people because many don't use braille. We were just speaking with that with another, you know, person as well. So there's, there's just so much more to that. So we need to all collectively tell people accessibility doesn't just mean disability. You just thinking differently. Right. But, oh my gosh, we could have a whole podcast episode just on this part I think,


Jessica Oddi: Oh, oh we could. I could be up for days .


Jolene MacDonald: I know for sure. I think one of the last things we wanna talk about is what is your advice for other advocis - or advocates or activists or just people who are really excited about it, and they've now had their eyes open to the, you know, all of these issues, that wanna support accessibility.


Jessica Oddi: Yes. And you know what, for me, I have two different sets of advice ‘cause I do have a set of advice for the people advocating. And I have a set of advice for these wonderful allies who are super excited about accessibility as well. So, for one, for the advocates, for the people who are disabled, do whatever you need to do to have happiness and joy in your own life and process. If you need certain accommodations in order to do what you need to do, do it, we shouldn't feel guilty or worried that we're not being productive enough or we're not doing enough. Or we don't have our fingers in all of the buttons and all over everything. It's okay to then [Totally guilty. ] Right? Yes, I know! That's why I’m saying it to you! And me, because I don't listen to my own advice, but you know, I think we all have this pressure, but when- disability and accessibility advocacy, it, it is personal. It is, you are fighting for people to see your worth and your existence in this world that wasn't built for us. So you take whatever rest you need, you charge whatever the heck you need to charge. And you work at a pace because if we're not making our own space is accessible for ourself, come on, we gotta practice what we preach. Right?


Jolene MacDonald: Oh, absolutely.


Jessica Oddi: And so all like the allies out there, like I've met some amazing people, Tiffany Stewart is one of them who is just like, we chat about, you know, compliance all the time and they're just super passionate about it. And it warms my heart every day to see more people interested in learning. And just remember that it's okay to not know it all. It's okay to- that little feeling of like, you know, worry for me is actually a good sign of your humanity because you want to make sure you are doing it correctly and including people. So, use that feeling, you know, don't shy away from it, don't use it as an excuse not to do it. Let's like lean into that and use it as an opportunity to be like, okay, who else can I involve then to help make this better and to help do this. So like thank you for putting in that work and for making it a human approach and caring about disabled people because that's what we need to do. And that's the type of approach we need to take in order to make this work, you know, especially in a capitalist society where it's all about the bottom dollar or it's all about this, you know, we really need more care and more community care. So, for the people doing the work and starting that journey. Congratulations. And thank you.


Jolene MacDonald: Yeah. I think it's definitely so personal. I mean, I didn't know anything about it as - and I was a designer at the time when my daughter was born, oh my gosh. Like I've been over 20 years now as a graphic designer, but when she's born, you know, 11 years ago and when the light bulb went off and I, I had been running this business, not this one, but my other one. And I went, oh my God, people with disabilities can't totally use this product or they can't do this. It can't -I'm like, there's no way I- I- I couldn't do my job anymore. Like, and then I ended up having health issues and you know, with my diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos and you needed the flexibility. And even though I was self-employed, I didn't have it in that, you know, that variation, but just once you experience it, you, can't not ex- not experience. I don't even know. Like I just-


Jessica Oddi: Once you become exposed to it, you can't like, [Yeah], unsee it, you can't undo it. It's like it's same thing. You know, I started doing accessibility for the very reason of, I just like coding and I would just Google things and then find out, oh, that wouldn't work for a screen reader. That would, oh, right. And then you like go down this huge rabbit hole of deep dive searching and all this, and then you realize like, yeah, I can't go back now. Now I have to like, make sure it works for people because I have a friend who couldn't access this thing I built and that's horrible. So I'm going to, you know, learn something new and figure it out. And then it just grew into like, “Okay, how can we do this for other disabilities?” ‘Cause yeah. I mean, I'm very much dysticsterial and like I don't even have a diagnosis yet fully because I'm still being rediagnosed. So, you know, like it's just other than the physical world of being a wheelchair user, there are so many more other disabilities to consider. And I just want that same access and like, support that I want for others as well.


Jolene MacDonald: It's, it's so important that, you know, we all have unconscious bias. We talk about this all the time. Things we didn't even know we had that we have to unlearn everything that we've known or grown up with and have been taught that this is the way it's supposed to be based on our ancestors' way back and what they knew. But you know, once you get there, it's such this liberating feeling and I just hope more people will take the time, a) to listen to our chats here, to understand firsthand what we're doing and why we're doing it. And to then look at the world, maybe through a bit of a different lens so we can have more allies and they will push on the behalf of other organizations and keep telling them, “Yeah, it's not just about the dollar.” You know, we are in that sort of piece of bandaid fixes, I think in a lot of organizations ‘cause you can't all of a sudden overhaul everything from scratch, but at least we can advocate for starting with one small step and then going to the next one and the next one, you know, to break that down. But I really appreciate all of your insight today. Is there any other things you would like to share with us before we wrap up our episode today?


Jessica Oddi: Oh my gosh. I’m never good at coming up with things like that. I could talk about anything and everything. No, you know, it just that it's this is the long game, you know, in realistically I would hope and I love seeing short term goals, but I think as a good reminder that like change takes time and change is also constant in that sense that we have to keep pushing, and we might not benefit from it right away. We might not see it, but you do see it. You do notice the changes. I mean, sometimes it's forced upon society like a global pandemic that I won't get into and other times it's, it's slow, but you see it like even just me seeing people who follow me, who end up adding their own image descriptions to their Instagram posts because they saw that I did that online. Or I had other people who started doing audio onto their Instagram stories because they realized, oh wow, like blind people are not gonna be able to use screen readers on Instagram stories. And so it's those little wins that also make it super like validating again. It's like, yes, you know, fill, take the time to fill your cup. Cause it's gonna be a long game, but we're gonna get there.


Jolene MacDonald: I remember the first time I learned about Camel Case and I was like, oh, so from a marketing perspective, we won't have those awkward hashtags anymore. Like it totally was, that was a benefit right there. But then you look at it and it's so much easier to understand and people sort of twig on it. And I think, you know, there's many wonderful advocates and accessibility specialists out there and we can all learn from each other. So, I hope that everyone takes that opportunity to connect. And I know even for me, when I reached out to you, I was so nervous. I thought, oh, she's gonna think I'm an imposter. What do I know? ‘Cause you're so talented Jess, I'm really fortunate that you are part of our team. And I appreciate the time that you took today to, you know, have this interview on our new podcast and grateful for all the experience. So, thanks again. And we'll all continue to fight for the rights, together.


Jessica Oddi: Thank you so much for having me. I'm honored because I love seeing spaces like this and you've built this whole accommodating beautiful thing in- locally, which is great because I usually only hear about things in the states or this and that. And it's so great to have this space here and to know that I could comfortably come in and out to help without having to overly stress myself physically. So, like you're accommodating everyone on your team already and you do great work. So, thank you for having me. And I'm glad we both feel like imposer sometimes .


Jolene MacDonald: I’m gonna cry at the end of my podcast! No, I think its all comes from a labor of love. You know what I mean? When, and I, I don't wanna keep talking about this, but when my daughter was born and I do have two other wonderful children older, but when you know, she entered the school system, I saw the difference between accessibility and inclusion. And I saw the difference of being equal to peers. N- never in my right mind that I think I would end up having my own issues. But you can't- it's just not optional anymore. Like you have to keep doing it. So you just find other people that are passionate and you wanna work together and do that. And yeah, it's been great and I love every part of it. And my whole team is awesome. Including Farshid who's been so quiet. So thank you! And Farshid, do you want to add anything?


Farshid Sadatsharifi: No no, just wanted to appreciate what I have heard and learned from you guys, and it was [a] wonderful talk, thank you.




Why Access Matters: A podcast by Accessibrand (thoughts and talks about accessibility) This podcast is published thanks to funding from CCRW (Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work) CCRW’s Mission is to promote and support meaningful and equitable employment of people with disabilities. Check out their services at: CCRW [dot] org.


Hello again everyone!


I am Jolene from Accessibrand, and welcome to our podcast “Why Access Matters”. You just heard a conversation that I had with Jessica Oddi, a disabled designer working toward “accessible design”.


Please take a moment to reflect and focus on some parts of what she said and ask yourself some questions:


- Jessica spoke to us about her belief that accessibility benefits everyone because everyone has access needs, and that most people just don’t realize it because they’re accommodated by society. Can you recall a moment when you or someone you know faced a barrier or change, or encountered a difficulty because of lack of access? Did you or they realize that there were things that they took for granted before?


-Jessica said, “The very core of what accessibility is watching all the other disabled people be so darn clever just to exist.” Have you considered these experiences as a level of strength and skill when interacting with persons with disability? If not, think about a time where you observed a person with a disability overcome an obstacle and consider how you would have done the same. Would you do what they did, or would you go about it differently?


Have you ever had to overcome something similarly? If yes, please share your experiences and impressions with us! Also, Jessica has mentioned that: as a graphic designer, she thinks there's so much for designers to learn especially with accessibility, and we agree! On this note, we are more than happy to announce that the 1st module of our online course for accessible and inclusive design is about to be launched shortly. If you are interested in knowing about it, we’d love to hear from you. Please reach us at:


And finally, please find the link to Jessica’s social media and follow her! We put all the links we mentioned in the description of our podcast for you!




Please send us your thoughts, ideas, and any feedback you have to our email, to: Jolene [at], or in the comments at our Apple Podcast page and Castbox, or under our posts on social media; we love when people connect there, and you can find those in the description box of our episodes.




Well, we’ve reached the end! I am Jolene MacDonald from Accessibrand. Thanks for your patience and time in listening to me, my colleagues and our special guest, Jessica Oddi, in our 3rd episode of “Why Access Matters”. Please: - Send us your thoughts and ideas! - Follow our podcast in pod catchers like Apple Podcast, Google, and Spotify and any other platform you listen to podcasts on, - Follow our fabulous guest Jessica Oddi and our admirable sponsor C.C.R.W. via the links in the description of our podcast, and please - Don’t forget to introduce us to your friends, family and network! Please consider checking out our website if you need any accessibility services and would like to utilize the valuable lived experience and expertise of persons with disabilities. You can visit our website at:


Why Access Matters: A podcast by Accessibrand (thoughts and talks about accessibility)


This podcast is published thanks to funding from CCRW (Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work) CCRW’s Mission is to promote and support meaningful and equitable employment of people with disabilities. Check out their services at: CCRW [dot] org.