October 8, 2021

Paving the way for accessible and inclusive technology

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Paving the way for Accessible and Inclusive Technology

This week we hear from James Brennan, a Senior Consultant at Trustmarque. James is passionate and experienced Office 365 and SharePoint consultant with an in-depth knowledge of the broader Microsoft 365 technology stack. 

James is one of the unsung heroes at Trustmarque, working tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver accessible and inclusive solutions to our customers. He also provides guidance to our in-house teams to make sure we’re producing content with accessibility in mind. 

We caught up with James to hear about how he is championing accessibility at Trustmarque and for our customers.

“We continue to put accessibility and inclusion at the heart of what we do at Trustmarque – we owe it to our customers and their end-users.”

Image of James Brennan, Senior Consultant at Trustmarque

Championing Accessibility at Trustmarque

Hello James, as our Accessibility Champion, how are you helping Trustmarque do better from within? 

James: Accessibility in the tech sector and the work environment is critical because we know how technology can be used as an enabler, not a barrier. At Trustmarque, we want to attract a rich and diverse workforce made up of people who can be as productive as they can be. You might need to adjust the way your team works to accommodate someone with a disability, but these are small changes that make a huge impact on someone’s career.  

  • Prereleasing your slides for presentation to clients or to your teams is a good place to startNot all disabilities are visible, and this allows people to read the content at their own pace. 

  • Using alternative text and tooltips – James encourages internal teams, such as Marketing and Sales to think of the way that they’re writing their documents. Embedding screenshots and images without the alternative text excludes people who are visually impaired and rely on screen-reading software.

  • Running the accessibility checker in MS 365 and Outlook to ensure you’re using inclusive language and that your document remains accessible to all.

Championing Accessibility for our Customers

What do our accessible customer solutions look like?

James: Our Power Platform team is making waves with their PowerApp development. Our PowerApps include built-in controls to change the font, text size, background and contrast themes for people with visual impairments.

Each PowerApp can remember individual users’ accessibility preferences, each time they access the application. It’s not one size fits all, but they’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in Power Platform.

“Everybody’s got a right to work and to do so at the best of their ability. There shouldn’t be any barriers, regardless of your ability or life circumstances. My role focuses on how we can help organisations and empower them to maintain their high accessibility standards through their IT solution choices.”

Future-proofed customer solutions

What are the current customer trends in this space?

James: We are seeing many organisations from the public and private sector who have accessible technology solutions on their shopping lists, even if they don’t have the actual requirement in their workforce at present. They don’t know who they’re going to hire six months down the line but they’re future-proofing their organisation to gather accessible solutions when they can.

This can only be a good thing, as whatever solution that these organisations opt for their workforce is going to change and they’re attracting a more diverse workforce.

Leading the way at Microsoft

So what innovations are our partners developing?

James: Microsoft is at the cutting edge for accessibility solutions. For instance, Microsoft Teams includes excellent support for subtitle/captioning for meetings and video calls to help those with hearing impairments, as well as those who may require additional assistance to focus on what is being said, such as those working in a loud and busy environment. This is a great example of a technology being used for both accessibility and inclusion. 

The consumer side of their business is also eliminating barriers with their Xbox controller design, which connects to external switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks to help make gaming more accessible.

Keep up the good work, James!

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