Ecommerce MarketingCyber-Duck’s Yahye Siyad on his function

Cyber-Duck’s Yahye Siyad on his function


Yahye Siyad is the Range and Accessibility Lead at Cyber-Duck, a digital transformation company specialising in UX and digital optimisation.

Siyad joined the company in October 2021, and can also be the founding father of Inclusive Horizons, a Dubai-based accessibility, inclusion and life teaching consultancy, in addition to being a UNCRPD (United Nations’ Conference on the Rights of Individuals with Disabilities) licensed coach. In his function as Range and Accessibility Lead, Siyad helps to supervise variety and inclusivity throughout the Cyber-Duck enterprise in addition to in its digital transformation work for purchasers. He additionally carries out person testing on shopper tasks.

Outdoors of labor, he’s additionally a former Staff GB Paralympian and holds the wonderful title of the primary visually impaired Licensed Scuba Diver within the UAE.

I lately spoke with Siyad to study extra about his work in accessibility and inclusion with Cyber-Duck, his ideas on the state of digital accessibility in 2022, and whether or not he thinks companies do sufficient to place accessibility on the coronary heart of their digital transformation tasks.

yahye siyad

The place are we on digital accessibility in 2022?

Relating to accessibility and inclusivity, Siyad’s remit at Cyber-Duck is a wide-ranging one, protecting the organisation’s inside strategy to variety and inclusion in addition to the accessibility of its merchandise and shopper tasks.

“My function with Cyber-Duck is because the Range and Accessibility Lead, so I have a look at various things to do with variety and inclusivity basically,” says Siyad. “Whether or not that’s making recruitment extra inclusive; wanting on the insurance policies that we’ve; or wanting on the merchandise we design with our purchasers, and testing how accessible they’re, selling greatest practices, and creating considerate management programmes on accessibility.”

Among the purchasers and digital transformation tasks that Siyad has been concerned with embody Quick Stream, an evaluation programme by the Civil Service that Cyber-Duck helped to rework right into a distant expertise through the pandemic; Sport England, with whom Cyber-Duck has labored on quite a few tasks together with its Unifying The Motion technique and the This Woman Can motion; and Sanctuary, a not-for-profit housing and care supplier whose digital presence Cyber-Duck revamped and made accessible.

I requested Siyad how he perceives the state of digital accessibility in 2022. Broadly talking, how accessible is the net for the time being, and has this improved lately?

“It actually is determined by whether or not your glass is half full or half empty – and whereabouts on the earth you’re,” Siyad mentioned. “Total, I might say it’s undoubtedly improved quite a bit; the G3ict [Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs] State of Digital Accessibility Report for 2021 interviewed greater than 1,000 organisations world wide in virtually any business that you can imagine, they usually mentioned that they’ve seen lots of progress.

“What’s placing for me about this report – and I feel it highlights the place accessibility is for the time being – is that 78% of members mentioned the explanation why they’re accessible is as a result of they need to help folks with disabilities. And whereas that’s good on the floor, it’s not sufficient to essentially push the accessibility agenda to a degree that’s parallel with different matters of variety, like race and gender.”

Siyad identified that the significance of accessibility goes past the expertise of people who find themselves formally disabled and ought to be about creating an expertise that’s inclusive to all. “It wants to come back from an understanding that it’s one thing that impacts everyone at completely different factors – whether or not it’s a brief state of affairs or everlasting,” he mentioned.

“It could possibly be {that a} video with captions helps somebody who is difficult of listening to, but in addition someone who’s on a prepare and doesn’t have a headset with them. It’s bringing that to gentle extra that helps [promote awareness of accessibility’s importance].”

A extra encouraging discovering on this entrance was that 62% of organisations reported that they had been addressing digital accessibility to offer “the very best UX for all customers” – making it the second most frequently-cited motive after the inclusion of customers with disabilities, and exhibiting {that a} majority of organisations do recognise the broader significance of making an inclusive expertise.

Siyad additionally famous that accessibility legal guidelines have an actual impression on the creation of accessibility applications: G3ict discovered that public sector organisations had essentially the most mature accessibility applications with 52% having applications that had been at the very least seven years outdated, and 17% having been working in the direction of inclusion for greater than 20 years. Within the UK, public sector organisations are required by the Equality Act 2010 and likewise the Public Sector Our bodies (Web sites and Cell Functions) Accessibility Laws 2018 to make “affordable changes” for customers with disabilities and to make their net and cellular presences accessible.

In america, authorized fits (in addition to the People with Disabilities Act, or ADA) have additionally resulted in additional organisations taking motion on accessibility, whereas in Europe, the European Accessibility Act (EAA) got here into impact in 2019 to enhance the EU’s Internet Accessibility Directive. In different phrases, each the need to create an inclusive expertise and the need to keep away from authorized reprisal are efficient in serving to to widen digital entry. “That basically offers me hope … Accessibility requires a distinct strategy and completely different reasoning for it to be taken severely,” mentioned Siyad. “It wants each the ‘carrot’ and the ‘stick’ strategy, so to talk.”

What are some frequent misconceptions about digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility efforts inside organisations can typically fall sufferer to myths and misunderstandings brought on by a lack of expertise about what measures are really useful, why they must be taken, and how one can put them into apply. I requested Siyad if there are any frequent misconceptions he has encountered about digital accessibility.

“One is that it’s costly,” Siyad replied. “Folks suppose it’s going to price an arm and a leg, and that we don’t have the price range.

“I feel this false impression must be clarified as a result of it’s actually not costly till you scratch your head on the final minute making an attempt to make issues accessible – as a result of then you definately’re retrofitting accessibility. Think about you construct a pleasant home, and realise on the final minute, ‘Oh, this home has points – how do I get into it?’ It’s going to price much more cash than in the event you accounted for that within the first place. That’s primary.”

Common person testing all through the method of constructing new digital techniques, instruments, or platforms might help to avert this case, notably if the expertise is being examined by customers with a various number of entry wants. “More often than not, to be sincere, these web sites and purposes are developed by non-disabled folks,” mentioned Siyad. “Or are developed by people who find themselves not impacted by that exact expertise. It must be examined all through, so that you don’t construct one thing primarily based on an assumption.”

The opposite main false impression that tends to crop up in relation to accessibility is, as talked about beforehand, that accessible experiences are solely wanted by folks with disabilities – when in actuality they’re wanted by everybody. “Accessibility remains to be correlated with incapacity – which is partially appropriate, however our notion of incapacity must be broadened. It’s not simply somebody who’s registered completely disabled; it’s anybody who’s experiencing a limitation of some type in a specific second,” Siyad mentioned.

One of many points that Siyad mentioned he hardly ever sees mentioned is the “ripple impact” of constructing issues accessible – basically, the optimistic knock-on impact that accessible providers and web sites have on folks’s lives. “In case you make your web sites, merchandise, providers, extra accessible – how many individuals can actually unleash their potential and contribute extra to society and the economic system general when issues are accessible to them?” he requested. “Folks will be capable of acquire employment, they’ll be capable of excel in schooling, they’ll spend extra into the economic system – and so forth, and so forth.

“The ripple impact is one thing that I feel actually must be checked out to compel the enterprise case for accessibility.”

Accessibility in digital transformation

Whereas digital accessibility could have grow to be a better precedence for organisations lately, does Siyad suppose companies are doing sufficient to construct accessibility into their digital transformation tasks from the bottom up?

“The pandemic undoubtedly accelerated digital transformation basically, for lots of organisations – and we’ve seen that throughout the whole lot from retail to healthcare,” mentioned Siyad. “However once more, the problem of correlating accessibility with incapacity particularly makes it not essentially a prime precedence.” Digital accessibility remains to be a “good to have” for companies, he mentioned, somewhat than being seen as indispensable. “For lots of organisations, it’s nonetheless a CSR initiative – and that should change.”

That is even if, even in the event you do solely take into account customers with disabilities as those that are being shut out by an absence of digital accessibility, within the UK alone, this quantities to 22% of the inhabitants in response to statistics from the Division for Work and Pensions Household Sources Survey. Within the US, the proportion is even larger, at 26% in response to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention – greater than 1 / 4 of the inhabitants.

These are enormous swathes of the populace to be excluding – however Siyad’s level is that it’s additionally essential for companies not to think about digital accessibility as a set of measures solely geared in the direction of one group of customers (these with disabilities), however as a manner of widening entry for everybody.

For instance, Cyber-Duck’s accessibility work with the civil service Quick Stream evaluation programme – a scheme to draw graduates and career-changers in addition to these within the civil service who desire a quick observe into management – was designed to create an accessible and inclusive expertise for all customers, no matter background, and concerned usability testing by candidates with a variety of various disabilities in addition to neurodiverse candidates. This finally led to a rise within the success charges for all under-represented candidates.

An organisational house for accessibility

One sticking level that organisations typically encounter in relation to accessibility, Siyad mentioned, is that accessibility doesn’t have a pure “house” inside an organisation’s inside construction. This was one other key discovering from the G3ict State of Digital Accessibility Report – as Siyad recalled, “different compliance points are led by a selected division, whereas accessibility had been floating round CX, UX, HR, IT, et cetera.” This additionally ends in accessibility missing a devoted organisational price range.

Siyad added that the problem wasn’t essentially that accessibility wanted to be centralised inside a single division. “There’s no hurt, and in reality it’s very useful, for the accountability to be unfold throughout all completely different capabilities, as a result of everyone must be concerned in accessibility at a sure stage of the challenge.” Nonetheless, he emphasised that there must be a bunch or particular person devoted to overseeing progress on accessibility and advancing its agenda. “For lots of organisations, there isn’t an recognized individual or a division that displays the progress of accessibility and is ready to push its agenda in several conferences.”

Ideally, Siyad thinks that accessibility ought to fall below the remit of a Range and Inclusion division – as a result of accessibility and variety and inclusion every have such an impression on the opposite that it’s not possible to really separate them out, and measures to advance one must also advance the opposite. “We have to make it possible for accessibility doesn’t stay the ‘poor cousin’ of variety,” he mentioned.

Accessible digital experiences: which manufacturers are main the way in which?

Though many organisations have a option to go in prioritising digital accessibility, there are others which have made clear efforts to create an inclusive digital expertise. Reflecting on the manufacturers and companies that he has encountered with standout accessible experiences, Siyad mentioned,

“The general public sector is main in that house: the NHS actually has probably the most accessible web sites I can consider for the time being, from a person perspective – I’ve examined it myself – which is nice to see.

“There’s additionally a sports activities charitable social enterprise known as Higher UK, which I simply found lately – it’s extremely accessible, from the inclusive memberships that they provide to how straightforward the app and web site are to make use of.”

Within the non-public sector, Siyad named Simply Eat as having a really accessible and simple digital expertise. One other model that stands out in prioritising digital accessibility is Tesco: “It’s gone via an enormous revamp within the final couple of years and their web site and app are very, very accessible.”

Certainly, a case research writeup from March 2019 about Tesco’s accessibility-focused grocery app included a number of glowing opinions from visually impaired customers who discovered it remodeled their expertise of buying groceries. One wrote, “It has allowed me to browse and do my very own searching for the primary time since going blind.” One other wrote, “A lot simpler to navigate and use than earlier than … As a very blind person it’s refreshing to see simply how a lot effort and time has been put into the entry capacity [sic] and I want to supply my thanks for this.” One other person who was “recovering from main surgical procedure” wrote in to reward the app – underscoring how accessible experiences can profit folks in all kinds of circumstances.

One factor that many manufacturers – even those that are in any other case very dedicated to accessibility – overlook, nonetheless, is that creating an accessible expertise isn’t a one-off job: sustaining additionally it is extraordinarily essential. “[Organisations] attain a sure level the place they suppose that the accessibility is now not required to be maintained, and in consequence, any replace to the applying will typically have one or two options that aren’t accessible,” mentioned Siyad.

“Identical to you preserve any product regularly, accessibility must be a part of the upkeep – that’s one thing actually value highlighting. It’s a steady course of.”

For its half, Cyber-Duck has taken steps to make sure that accessibility is embedded within the end-to-end course of for its digital transformation tasks – somewhat than being an add-on or, as Siyad put it, a “good to have”. All employees have undertaken broad accessibility coaching with the Royal Nationwide Institute of Blind Folks (RNIB), and the organisation can also be a member of the Worldwide Affiliation of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), which is a division of G3ict that helps organisations in integrating accessibility into their providers, merchandise and infrastructure. “The rationale we joined [the IAAP] is to contribute into that house – to reinforce the usual of how accessibility is embedded,” mentioned Siyad.

The company additionally makes some extent of publishing assets like guides and webinars that educate concerning the worth and advantages of accessibility with a purpose to elevate consciousness of its significance. “Once more, I am going to the ripple impact,” mentioned Siyad. “I really feel blissful being in a job like this with a digital transformation company as a result of the impression is absolutely enormous – we’re not simply making their web site accessible, we’re creating a greater finish person expertise for everyone.”

Person Expertise and Interplay Design

The accessibility of web3 and the metaverse

Quite a lot of commentary over the previous 12 months has targeted on the emergence of the following iteration of the World Vast Internet, web3, together with the metaverse, which is extensively hailed as being the “subsequent web”. The 2 usually are not one in the identical, however each ideas revolve round a significant shift to the way in which that we work together on-line, with web3 promising a extra decentralised net, whereas the metaverse guarantees a brand new degree of integration between the bodily and digital worlds.

However are these new digital frontiers being developed with accessibility on the fore? In any case, a web3 or metaverse that isn’t designed to be inclusive from the phrase ‘go’ will likely be ineffective to a big section of the world’s inhabitants, and do nothing to enhance on their experiences with Internet 2.0. I put this query to Siyad, who was ambivalent.

“I feel it’s early days, however what’s essential is that as we transfer into this house in any form or kind – whether or not it’s net 3.0, the metaverse, or no matter you need to conceptualise – what’s essential is that we don’t make the identical mistake that we’ve been making for the final 30-40 years, which is designing for the quote unquote ‘regular’,” he mentioned.

“The notion of ‘regular’, the notion of a ‘typical person’, must be as large as potential to essentially take note of what the accessibility capabilities of [web3 or the metaverse] must appear like.”

Whereas many may not be thrilled by main know-how giants like Meta or Microsoft placing their stamp on the following net, that is one thing that makes Siyad extra hopeful that accessibility will likely be integral to web3 and the metaverse, as a result of the tech giants are more likely to contemplate accessibility a aggressive benefit and never an non-obligatory further. The likes of Meta, Microsoft and Alphabet are additionally extra prone to view accessibility as essential to their picture, and need to present that they’re main the way in which with accessible know-how – as evidenced by, for instance, Microsoft’s April 2021 weblog submit asserting that it was “doubling down on accessibility”, or Meta’s perception into the way it constructed accessibility right into a redesigned Fb, and its annual Accessibility Summit to coincide with International Accessibility Consciousness Day.

Nonetheless, there’s a drawback with the underlying precept of web3, which is envisaged as being largely decentralised, in distinction to the centralisation of Internet 2.0. With this decentralisation comes an absence of accountability: who’s liable for making certain that the general expertise is accessible?

“The thought is that individuals create their very own content material, and personal that – however due to that shift within the paradigm, how can we guarantee it’s accessible?” requested Siyad. “Fb can say, ‘It’s nothing to do with us; it’s not owned by us, it’s owned by the customers.’”

“There’s no hurt in blue-sky considering,” he concluded. “However as somebody with first-hand expertise of those points, I feel we actually have much more issues to restore for the time being than worrying concerning the metaverse.”

Accessibility specialist Elisabeth Ward on incapacity in digital and the impression of the pandemic


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