Accessibility is like learning a new language, leaving many developers wondering where to start. The answer is pretty simple, start anywhere. But the onus isn’t all on devs.
Crystal Preston-Watson has partial sight and uses a screen reader in her day-to-day as a Senior Digital Accessibility Analyst at Salesforce, one of the largest tech companies in the world. As strange as it may seem, she never used a screen reader until she was asked to test one out in her previous role as a quality engineer. Once she got her hands on one, she saw just how much businesses excluded people with disabilities from their target audience.
Crystal knows first-hand how quickly the expenses rack up when the burden of accessibility is placed on people with disabilities. In her talks, she addresses this and other lessons on accessibility with a bit of humor to make the conversation more approachable and beginner-friendly.
In this episode, Chuck and Robbie talk with Crystal about pitching accessibility to higher-ups, the actual cost of accessibility, and her love for comedy and improv.
[17:07] - “Accessibility is everyone's concern. There are some really specific things that only a developer or tester or content creator can do, but at the end of the day, it's a very holistic thing, and everyone needs to be concerned about it.” ~ Crystal Preston-Watson
[21:33] - “If you have users that can't use your application, that is money wasted. And that's the thing, disabled people have money, and if they can't use your product then they're going to take that money somewhere else unless it is something that is very vital.” ~ Crystal Preston-Watson
[24:11] - “Everyone will use a mouse if they're not blind and visually impaired and that's just not true.” ~ Crystal Preston-Watson
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Robbie Wagner: [00:09] Hey, everybody. Welcome to another Whiskey Web and Whatnot. This is the a11y hour edition. And before we even get into it, can we clarify that people say al-ee or al-eye or a11y? Or, like, is there a correct one?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [00:26] I used a11y.
Robbie Wagner: [00:28] Okay.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [00:29] Honestly, if there is, I don't really know, because I will do
Robbie Wagner: [00:34] Okay
Crystal Preston-Watson: [00:34] All the various things, and I think a lot of people have some very set opinions on using a11y. Some people don't like that, because they're like, well, it's confusing. It is jargon. And when it comes to accessibility jargon, I actually just talked about it's, like, hey, try not to use jargon, try to use plain language. And then you have, like, a11y that's used all over. But when it comes to social media, it's kind of like character space limits are it's very precious. So you have accessibility, which is very long, takes a lot of space. A11y, it takes up very little. So I think it's whatever you feel comfortable with. I think it's, yeah al-eye a11y. I think those are the two that I hear refer to most often.
Robbie Wagner: [01:27] Okay, fair enough.
Chuck Carpenter: [01:28] Choose your own adventure.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [01:29] Yeah, exactly.
Robbie Wagner: [01:31] Well, back up a second. We have Crystal Preston-Watson with us today. Thanks for joining us.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [01:36] Thank you.
Robbie Wagner: [01:37] Before we get to the whiskey, do you want to give everybody a little intro into who you are and what you do?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [01:43] Yeah, I'll repeat my name once again. I have to use every day but Crystal Preston-Watson. Currently, I am the senior digital accessibility analyst at Salesforce office of accessibility. A lot of people are like, what does that mean? I am concerned all things digital accessibility internally. So internal pools documents. So I am that person who is like, if something is inaccessible digital-wise with an employee, I am there to suss it out and fix it. Not personally. I'm not getting into the tool, but find the people that can fix it. So that's what I do. Currently, I do a lot of speaking on accessibility, and I've been doing that for a couple of years. I've been in tech for quite a while, probably a little over ten, eleven years. And before that, I was in journalism, but still kind of like tech adjacent, working in like interactive and web departments.
Robbie Wagner: [02:51] Nice. All right, so before Chuck gets upset, we will do whiskey.
Chuck Carpenter: [02:58] It's whiskey o'clock everywhere. That's what I hear. Okay, so today we have selected I don't know, it just showed up on my doorstep one day, so I didn't select it. It was selected for me.
Robbie Wagner: [03:09] I selected.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:10] Yes. The Johnny Drum Private Stock. It is a 101-proof alcohol by the Willett Distillery, which is a place I've been to in Bardstown, actually. It's pretty cool. It's really pretty. They do a few different things, some under their own labels, some under other old-school Kentucky labels. So this be one of them. They are keeping the secret on the mash bill for us, so we have no idea. But aside from that, it is definitely bourbon, which means it's at least 51% corn. All I could say.
Robbie Wagner: [03:45] Yup.
Chuck Carpenter: [03:45] Yeah, because I can't say Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey unless it's like those things. Says rich and mellow sour mash. So I don't know, take it at that.
Robbie Wagner: [03:53] Does that mean they have to disclose it to the people that do the classification? Because otherwise, they could just lie.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:01] Right. Yeah, I'm sure there's some sort of test there. Disclosure thing, measure thing. I don't know what it is. A master distiller would have to prove it to someone who was coming for like a surprise inspection or whatever.
Robbie Wagner: [04:14] Okay.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:14] I don't know how serious those things are, to be honest. Is there somebody whose job is to go in and find the people who have lied about their grains?
Robbie Wagner: [04:22] That's 48% corn.
Chuck Carpenter: [04:25] That's 48% corn. It's not bourbon. It's just whiskey. That can be my job. That's where I think I could pivot. Anyway, enough of that. So but it is actual Kentucky whiskey. Made in Kentucky, made in Bardstown, which is like the mother ship. It was at one time US news' number one small town in America or something like that. Kind of funny. It looks like that town. And back to the future, the first one. Kind of like the long main street.
Crystal Preston Watson: [04:56] Oh, yes, I will cheers my phantom whiskey.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:06] Okay, let's see.
Robbie Wagner: [05:07] Just to clarify, we did send Crystal whiskey, but she is choosing not to have it due to needing to work afterwards. It's not that we did not give her some.
Crystal Preston Watson: [05:15] Yes, they were very good. It looks very- my spouse is like, what? This is great, and I'm very excited about this. And they know their whiskey, so you know.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:29] I would say maybe after this publishes you could tweet your review after.
Crystal Preston Watson: [05:35] Yes, I will. I will do a shot, and then I'll do my usual whiskey ginger and give my review.
Robbie Wagner: [05:45] Fair. However, you like it.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:46] Yeah, exactly. Whoa. It's got a lot of cinnamon on the palate.
Robbie Wagner: [05:50] The smell I don't get a lot from.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:52] I got like a light maple, maybe.
Robbie Wagner: [05:55] A little bit of lemon, maybe.
Chuck Carpenter: [05:57] And I would say.
Robbie Wagner: [05:58] Was supposed to have apple. That's why I got this one. But I'm not really smelling a lot of apple.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:03] No, but I think on the finish you might get a little apple, more like apple skins. I get a ton of cinnamon right up front and then it starts to mellow out. So maybe it's like fried apples or something. Just like something I had growing up in the south. I mean, I don't know what you think you know about the dirty south.
Robbie Wagner: [06:26] We're just going to ignore you.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:29] That's a good idea. I haven't had any of this beforehand, but we will accelerate the review portion since you're not imbibing at this time, Crystal.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [06:37] No, I'm learning a lot because at least when it comes to whiskey, I am not. Maybe like, cognac, I'm a little bit more familiar with and things. So when it comes to whiskey, I'm just like, yeah, I'm taking the shot.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:52] And so be it, are you suggesting we should have sent you Fireball?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [06:56] Oh, no no no.
Chuck Carpenter: [06:59] Not to that degree. That's good.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [07:00] Try not to not relive my youth.
Chuck Carpenter: [07:03] No, get a little mustiness on it.
Robbie Wagner: [07:07] Yeah. I agree that this tastes a lot like cinnamon apples. Kind of like some fried apples. Yeah, it's pretty good.
Chuck Carpenter: [07:15] Yeah, not bad. I remember I had this a long time ago as the disclaimer, but it's been quite some time. Used to be very readily available. It was like $25. And then whiskey got popular or something, and then everything decent got more expensive and harder to get. But yeah, I still like it. I feel like it has some sweetness and ease, and I actually might lend itself to a mixer even, like, it's good to sip, but it might be make some interesting cocktails too, on the side, like with the sour. Might be a good mix.
Robbie Wagner: [07:45] Yes. Or it's kind of spicy. So like, with ginger, it would be good too.
Chuck Carpenter: [07:49] Yeah. I'm going to give this a six tentacles on our very specific in-depth scale because I like it. I would have more of it. I'd probably even pick it up again because I still don't think it's like, that expensive, comparatively. But I wouldn't take it over some of our sevens. I don't think I'd pick it over those. So given that.
Robbie Wagner: [08:08] Yeah, I think I would go I'm going to do a half. I would say six and a half. I think it's better than some sixes I've had, but I agree, not quite at the seven. So pretty good.
Chuck Carpenter: [08:19] Three and a quarter stars. No, the division of things. I'm just going to stick to six. Yeah, I think it's good.
Robbie Wagner: [08:25] Fair.
Chuck Carpenter: [08:25] All right. And Crystal's review will be pending, coming in two weeks, give or take. Yeah, it's pending two weeks, give or take.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [08:34] Yes.
Chuck Carpenter: [08:34] We'll tag you on the tweet, and you can be like, oh, yeah, hold on, let me have another now and then. Tell us what you think.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [08:41] Right now it's like Schrodinger's review. It's like anywhere from a zero to ten. Who knows?
Chuck Carpenter: [08:48] Yeah, nice. So let's talk serious things, right?
Robbie Wagner: [08:53] Yes. Accessibility. So, yeah, I went through some of your talks. I did not listen to the talks, to be fair. I just got the titles of the talk. I listened to a little bit of one, the WAP one for fun, because I was like, this is interesting title.
Chuck Carpenter: [09:09] Wait, what? Like the Cardi B WAP?
Robbie Wagner: [09:13] Yes. Different, though.
Chuck Carpenter: [09:14] Okay.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [09:15] Yes, a little bit different.
Chuck Carpenter: [09:19] Right, right. I'm going to assume the acronym for one might be different.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [09:23] Yes. Yeah.
Chuck Carpenter: [09:25] Okay.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [09:26] I tend to, when it comes to my titles of, like, talks and presentations, usually the title comes first, and then the content comes after because that's how I have to do it. And I was just sitting, and it was right in the middle where you had a lot of people talking about the song. And I was like, oh, web accessibility, please. That is great. I have to make this a talk.
Chuck Carpenter: [09:54] Yeah. No, I love it. I'm definitely going to listen to that one, perhaps even today. And I think it's great. I think it's like you have a small amount to get people interested or engaged in what you're going to talk about, and why not be like, you don't know what this means, come find out.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [10:09] Exactly. Honestly, half the work is just with your titles, with your descriptions. Because when it comes to accessibility, I think a lot of people are like, oh, it's dealing with disability. They don't know. They're like. This is serious. This is serious times, and you can lighten the mood, especially when you're learning about things. And disability doesn't mean sad and isolated, which a lot of people have that preconceived notion. And when it comes to accessibility, I am not a serious person. And so when I'm teaching things, when I'm talking about things, I'm going to bring humor into it. And so that is why it's like, you have WAP. You have a lot of other things. I did a whole presentation based on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia because that's one of my favorite shows. So when it comes to accessibility, disability, there are serious things within it, but it doesn't always have to be serious, for sure.
Robbie Wagner: [11:08] So, yeah, some of the ones that I thought would be super interesting to dive more into, I guess I don't know the content of them, but how to pitch accessibility, I feel like would be I'm assuming that talk was about how to get buy-in from people and get the time to work on it. So tell us a little bit about that and some tips around that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [11:27] Yeah, so that all came about because when it comes to accessibility, a lot of times, especially within a tech company, a lot of times accessibility begins just with the quality assurance, the testing department, and my background is quality engineering. And that's how I got really introduced to accessibility on a professional level. I was a quality engineer. A ticket came across to me of, like, use a screen reader and test this out. And even though I have visual impairments, I had never used a screen reader before. And it was like, I'm like, okay, well, I don't know how to use this, and two, I have a very janky VM I can barely operate, and so you're asking me to use Jaws, which is a screen reader on that VM I've never used before. What is going on? And a lot of times that story might sound like really wild, but it's really not that different from a lot of people who are kind of the first person tasked with accessibility at a company. And so you start to learn more about it. And it becomes a thing of, like, you realize how necessary it is and how important it is, and you want to you're like, our products are not accessible. Our platform is not accessible. We need to deal with this. And given that, especially when it comes to quality engineering, QA testing, sometimes those roles are not really well listened to, depending on the company and because of preconceived notions and stereotypes of what QA and testers are. And so you're kind of fighting this battle of, like, we need to be concerned about accessibility, and it's not something that can wait until testing. But I'm a tester, and now I'm trying to talk to you about accessibility. And so having done this a couple of times, so I wanted to give advice on kind of lessons I've learned in how to pitch in and talk about accessibility to stakeholders, company leadership, and how to make that case. A lot of times, covertly, like, in where you're gathering information about accessibility to make these pitches, I frame that particular talk. The latest one, I've done the talk twice. One geared towards more QA and testing, the other geared towards just anyone that's at, like, a startup company. I talked about the pitch as, like, a pitch deck. So a lot of VCs, a lot of CEOs, the startup companies, they're used to that type of, like, pitch deck and things like that. So I'm, like, speak their language, communicate on their level, and so create a pitch deck for accessibility. So you'll have, like, maybe 30 minutes at tops, maybe not even that. So answer questions, slide this deck into whoever who has that decision-making power, because accessibility really does need to be company-wide. It can't come from one particular department. And honestly, it's really best if it is a top-down initiative because then other people will take it seriously. Because I would love for everyone to be like, hey, I'm concerned about accessibility, but that's not true. I am not naive. We don't live in that type of world. But if you have the CEO saying, hey, we got to be concerned about accessibility, then you have people who can care less. They're just like, can I care less? I always get this. But now they're concerned about it, and they make it a priority, and it's like, do they actually care about accessibility? Probably not, but it doesn't matter because that's now in the road map, because the head of the company now says it is.
Chuck Carpenter: [15:25] Bingo. Yeah, you brought up a number of points there that actually spurned some questions, and some of them along the way you actually have answered. I think that, yeah, at the end of the day, who owns accessibility? Well, it's the entire company, right? So the onus isn't necessarily on one of these layers. You're talking about testers. You talk about the engineering team implementing. You talk about a product team who's coming up with, like, okay, through business objectives, what we're going to provide. And then I feel like a lot of times the problem is the pool, that not all three of them feel like they're on the hook for that. So, like, the tester great, can suss it out, but they're not necessarily supposed to identify what the engineering team is supposed to be doing. And maybe the engineering team should know more about accessibility or the company should have an accessibility-specific team to sort of help implement that. And the product owners don't add that into their whole definition of done through the roadmap. So then it's always like, where are we going to stick this in? Because we've planned out our year in this way and we didn't actually add that in, we didn't think about that, and maybe we'll throw it in bug sessions and stuff like that. When it's not a bug, it's a limitation of the software that they plan to begin with and so you have to iterate on that somewhere. So, yeah, I think that you answered those questions to me is just. Like, originally I was thinking kind of, who owns that? And you have to bond that whole product delivery team together and then get them to advocate. But really, at the end of the day, the advocation should be clear to the business' leadership team, and then they should be coming down saying, we support you in deciding how you're going to remedy this situation. Right?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [17:02] Exactly. And that's something I really do try to impart. Accessibility, is everyone's concern. There are some real specific things that only, say, a developer or tester or content creator can do, but at the end of the day, it's a very holistic thing, and everyone needs to be concerned about it that works on that product. Since it is a company and that's their product or one of their products, it is everyone's responsibility and should be their priority.
Robbie Wagner: [17:35] Yeah, I really like the idea of having a pitch deck too, because I think it's really hard. Say you have a team of 50 developers getting all of them on board with any idea, not just accessibility. So going above them, not that you're going to force them to shove it down their throats, but getting the buy-in from up high is very helpful because then the team doesn't have to try to really convince everyone and all that.
Chuck Carpenter: [18:00] And they just know that's part of the definition of done, of completing their work. Right. And if that's just part of it, then it becomes a lot easier.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [18:07] Yeah. And honestly, from my kind of experience, I've never really had to be too much convincing to get the engineering team on. Like, we should be doing accessibility. They're usually like, hell yeah, I agree, we need to be doing this, but usually, it's like, well, I would love to switch gears or do this to really start focusing on it, but we have our roadmap, so when it comes to like, yeah, maybe we do need to do some refactoring of code, but guess what, you can't do that because that's not going to get approved. And so making sure that you're doing that kind of top-down takes that pressure off of the developers in the engineering team and everyone because then they're like, okay, now I have that approval. I don't have to try to do stuff off the side of my desk right after I'm done with everything I have in the sprint or whatever. And also that allows you to. When it's done top down, you can get funding for education for every one of like. Okay. Let's make sure we're doing accessibility the way it needs to be done. And that is getting training and resources and other types of things. Doing an audit of what is the state of accessibility right now. And trying to fix issues that are causing blockers and barriers for our users. Like. Right now. But also being able to plan to fix and maybe do new features or functions and making sure anything that's coming down the line and that's going to be new is made accessible from the very beginning.
Robbie Wagner: [19:50] Yeah, for sure.
Chuck Carpenter: [19:51] Yes, exactly that 100%. I think most engineering teams want to do the right thing and they care about their users, even if they are doing terrible accessibility work at the time. I think if you highlight that to any engineering team and show them that it's a priority too, and they're like, oh, wow, I've been doing this thing to lead, you know. I think, on a simple way of sort of reminds me of years ago when the web was highly constrained to the desktop, and then people just not even being able to use a site on their phone, right? That right there is like one massive jump and engineers became aware of it and really advocated and attacked that problem in ways. But again, it sort of had to become important from the top down as well to get that traction. And I think that's exactly the same kind of thing. I'm curious and maybe we can, like I'll let Robbie ask a little more about some of your talk names, but I would be curious is, like, when you come into an organization, and they're like, okay, great. Is there a way to prioritize accessibility improvements within an application that you would say, like, if you just did this, this quarter, it would be amazing? I mean, it's not doing enough for everyone, but this is like an amazing jump and then kind of like that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [21:10] Yeah, I definitely do. It does depend on the type of product you have or platform, but there are things you can do, like, right away. I mean, one, if you do realize that you have like, major show-stopping blockers and barriers, definitely focus on getting those because even just thinking about business, kind of being business minded, well, if you have users that can't use your application, that is money wasted. And that's the thing of disabled people have money, and if they can't use your product then they're going to take that money somewhere else unless it is something that is very vital. And then that's where it comes in of like if it's something that's a vital application then it speaks volumes if you know you have users that cannot use your application and you don't fix that barrier. Because that says if I'm someone who may not. That barrier is not something that I can be to be concerned with. But I know of someone else that is that speaks a lot to me as a customer of like. Well. It's like what happens when I do come across something like that and being concerned about fixing those kind of showstopping blockers. I think some other things that you're really concerned about, like say you are like a social media app and being concerned about making sure you're providing alt text for images, color contrast for those who are like, who are visually impaired and low vision and also have color blindness captioning and transcripts for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. These things, making sure that you're providing things and building these things into your applications, it may not solve every single accessibility need, but these are pretty big ones when it comes to with a lot of applications. You know video, images, audio, those are usually pretty big things that people are concerned about. And providing those things for those functions are going to get, you know, they'll get you some pretty big wins.
Robbie Wagner: [23:23] Yeah. And I think sometimes people. Myself included. Get a little they get the blinders on, and they think. I want to fix everything for screen readers, or I want to fix everything for a particular disability and kind of forget about one of the other possible things because there's so many varied types that it's like. I think that would be my recommendation is try to think about as many of them as you can and do like a little bit for each. Right. So that you're not forgetting. I don't know. You know what I'm trying to say.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [23:56] Yeah. Making sure things, especially for desktop web browser, that's like the nonmobile computer in your hand, that it is keyboard accessible. Everyone can use a mouse if they're not blind and visually impaired and that's just not true. I know so many, especially old school programmers, that have been in like 40 years and they're like power keyboard users. They do not like using mice. And I always bring that up because people are like, well, obviously, people will use a mouse if they're not using assistive technology. And I was like, that's not true. But also when it does come to assistive technology, many devices, not just screen readers, but things like switches and other sort of would use keyboard inputs. So maybe you're on a team where it's like none of us can use a screen reader we don't really know what we're doing. But if you know that your program and your application works just as keyboard only, that's a huge, huge, huge win. You can't say for 100% certain that it will work with all screen readers or assistive technology that use keyboard inputs, but for the most part, you will know if you have any sort of major blockers that would have barriers for those things.
Robbie Wagner: [25:21] Yeah, I think that's great advice because that's something that people don't think about as often as they should. It's just like just keep hitting tab, right? And make sure everything on your site is going in the order you expect. Because I know personally half the time it's not. And it's like not that I did it in the wrong order or thought about it wrong, but it just does a weird thing. So you've got to change some of that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [25:44] And that's the thing where I talk about the accessibility tree because I realized that as I worked with a lot of developers that a lot of people didn't realize how that and the Dom really kind of work together. And so though I have some background in front-end development stuff like that so I'm definitely not 10X lead engineer. I just realized a couple of days ago, I was like, I need to kind of reteach myself some React because I'm like I've just completely forgotten about how to do certain things. But I realized that understanding assistive technology kind of interacts with a website and how the code that you write and then gets pushed up onto a site and how that all that process works after doing that particular presentation. And there's other people who have done who do that presentation way better than me, as mine is a little bit more just kind of like, hey, did you know about this? It really gets people really thinking about, okay, using semantic code, HTML when you can and making sure that things really are keyboard accessible that puts a light bulb up of like, okay, I get this.
Chuck Carpenter: [27:09] Plus don't knock your own presentation style necessarily because there's a voice for everyone, right? And sometimes you have to hear things five or ten times before they start to resonate. And it's just because, oh, now I heard it with humor and that's the way that it kind of sticks with me and inspires me. And someone else wants a more scientific approach or more like whatever semantic approach going through docs and stuff. Some people want live coding they want visual, but.
Chuck Carpenter: [28:01] That's funny.
Robbie Wagner: [28:02] So it's totally valid to just tell people, like, did you know this is a thing? And it may seem like common knowledge, but half the people may be like, I did not thank you for telling me that's a thing.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [28:12] I really do try to gear my content in my talks, for the most part, to people who are just getting started on accessibility, like, their journey, because not everyone knows. I think there's a lot of like, if you get siloed, it depends on a department or a segment of the Internet where you're like, well, everyone knows how to do this. And it's like, that's just not true. And I'm just one of those people of, like, we all got to start somewhere. What I'm concerned about is that you do understand and you take that and once you kind of get a good basic understanding. Go off and find more and really, not just go above and beyond. Because really my overall goal when I do create is like. Take what I have given you and just blow me out of the water of improving and innovating on it. Because that's what I hope. Because one day I won't be hearing. And that's the thing of, like, if you're still using my content, I don't know, like 50, 60 years from now, that's really I really hope not come back and talk.
Chuck Carpenter: [29:25] There's the old saying, but it's not necessarily probably overly politically correct. Watch Robbie get nervous.
Robbie Wagner: [29:31] Oh, God.
Chuck Carpenter: [29:32] Is the whole teach a man to fish, right? And teach a person to fish. We can adapt it to anyone. Teach someone to fish rather than give them the fish. And so you kind of like, start the thing, let me just show you something and show you how to get more answers. And there you go.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [29:49] Yeah, that's kind of my thing. I'm not someone who micromanage, so I'm all about, like, okay, let me teach you how to do something. Let me give you some information. That way you can go off and learn on your own. I'm here as a backup when you need clarification because I don't have time. I don't like to be micromanaged. I don't like to micromanage anybody else. So that is how I approach everything. I don't want to look over your shoulder 24/7 because I have other things to do.
Robbie Wagner: [30:22] For sure.
Chuck Carpenter: [30:23] Nice.
Robbie Wagner: [30:24] So another one of your talks that I think could be interesting for people to hear about is the Broke with Accessible Taste understanding the economics of digital access in the US. But just in general, thinking about the economics of it, I think people forget about how important it is and how much money they could be losing or not just that, but, like, you know, regulations and fines and things for not doing it right. And how big is the economics on this? And give us some thoughts on that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [30:53] So that Talk is actually not talking about the company. It's actually talking about disabled people and kind of how their access, like how access begins before the computer or the smartphone. It really talks about just disability in the United States. I also did one that was kind of a little bit focused on New York because of the group I was presenting to you. So the expense of a lot of people think screen when it comes to getting disability benefits, a lot of people think that's like, oh, that's 100% guaranteed for someone with disability. That is definitely not especially depending on the disability. And so when it comes to Social Security insurance or Social Security disability insurance from the Social Security Administration, the application to start those benefits can take years. And honestly, that's for a lot of people, that is the normal thing of going through. A lot of times it is expected that you get denied and then you have to redo it. And it takes a lot. And a lot of times they tell you like, well, it's best to get a lawyer. And like, well, lawyers cost money. Depending on your disability. It's like what you're not worth. And then I start talking about just the expense of assistive technology. Just like if we just focus on screen readers. Screen readers are not free. There are some programs depending where you could potentially get free computer where you provide a computer and then screen reader, but that's not guaranteed for me. I do have visual impairment. I do use a screen reader. When it comes to, say, Jaws, I don't qualify for any sort of programs. I make enough money to buy a screen reader, but it's expensive. And in that talk, I go through that my PC costs like one $1500. And Jaws, when it comes to if you want to buy it outright, out license, it's about $1,000.
Chuck Carpenter: [32:58] Wow.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [32:59] And if you're doing subscription, it's like, I believe it's like $90 a year when it comes to a MacBook, well, you got to buy the MacBook. And my MacBook cost like $2,100. And so I got Voiceover, and then you have NVDA, and now that is free, but it's open source, and they subsist on donations, and that's just screen readers. You also have switches and depending if you have a switch I bought one for it was like $45, but the adapter was $90, and that goes on from there. You also have to consider people having not everyone has the latest and greatest software or hardware. That's something I run into where everyone's like, you have a product, they're like, oh, well, we're only testing on the devices that we have. And usually, if you're at a company, the devices that you have are usually pretty the versions are pretty current. There are so many people I know who are still rocking 2014 MacBooks and that's all they have access to. Which means the version of their assistive technology or screen reader is also can't be updated to the latest version. And so that's what that talk is about. It's just that disability is expensive and that's something that you need to consider as a company. And when you're thinking about your product and accessibility, is that there is so much that happens to people before they even get to your products.
Robbie Wagner: [34:31] Yeah, definitely. I think I would put that back on some of the device manufacturers. Like, they should spend more of their billions or trillions of dollars on making those things update more frequently and have nice screen readers and stuff for free. You don't need to buy I mean, it's not for free because you bought the hardware, right, but not an additional cost. That should be what they care about out of the box.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [34:58] It's one of those things. I think the more companies do you think about accessibility that you will get, the cost of like, even assistive technology will come down. Hopefully. Maybe I'm being optimistic. Money talks. And so I don't want to get too deep into this, but I do hope by companies really focusing on accessibility and making it a priority and building it in that this becomes less of concern of, like, accessibility, providing accessibility, or wanting things that are accessible is expensive.
Robbie Wagner: [35:36] Right.
Chuck Carpenter: [35:37] And I think that's probably a matter of perception necessarily, too, because they're not prioritizing it for users that need assistive technology. So it's not integrated, or it costs more, or it's not considered when building software to begin with and all that kind of thing. And so it's an economic pool, and they're not necessarily realizing that the user pool grows. There's benefits there. There's, like, whatever. This computer that already costs $1,500 if it just did a good chunk of these things built in because it runs its own software. It knows right down to the metal what's going on. Wow, maybe more people would just buy that computer over one that didn't invest in that in the same way. So there's economics across the board. And that could be evangelized becomes marketing. It becomes like, oh, the Apple MacBook Air accessible for everyone. And then you're like, oh, I feel good about buying that and buying that one and putting it back into the pool and whatever else. So it's like economics on many sides.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [36:44] Yeah, exactly.
Robbie Wagner: [36:46] Yeah. I mean, I think down to software, too. Part of the problems this is kind of related, I guess, of thinking about who might use it is like, okay, we're building this. Let's say something that's very visual, like Sketch, or like you're making designs, right? Think, oh, someone that can't see won't use this, but what if for some reason, one day they do? Right. You should never limit your user pool based on who you think might use it. You should just try to include as many people as you can in that pool and then you might be surprised. Maybe there is a use case that you didn't think about that all of a sudden people start using it for.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [37:21] That's something where the preconceived notion that especially disabled people don't do things like the stereotype of well. This is something I've heard. I still kind of hear in some form. But I've definitely heard in the past disabled people don't go on the internet and its kind of like. Okay. I don't know what reality you are living in. Well, disabled people don't go on the internet, so we don't need to worry about that. And that's just not true. And also, when it comes to, like, well, a blind person won't use a code editor, and it's like because blind people can't obviously program, and that is definitely not true. I know several really great blind developers that use like VS Code or, like oh, obviously, someone won't use Sketch or Figma, things like that. And it's like again, even with my vision, I have one really functional eye. I'm constantly on design things. I love Photoshop and stuff like that. That's the thing I've used for years. I still do even when my vision I've definitely been using Photoshop with very low vision day where I'm just up against the monitor trying to edit something maybe I shouldn't do. Maybe that day I should just not do it. But I usually have a deadline or something I'm doing. And that's the thing of the preconceived notions of well. This group won't use it because for reasons because they don't. And that's just. It's not true. Unless you have absolutely sure which you can't be, then you can't assume that at all.
Robbie Wagner: [39:08] Yeah, and just to touch on the blind developers real quick, can we talk about how badass it is just being there? Like they don't have to have a screen. I read a story about a guy that he just has a keyboard, and it's like just, turning out code and it's like whoa, mad respect. I am not as good as you.
Chuck Carpenter: [39:27] Right, right.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [39:31] I was sitting right next to someone that does that, and it's just like I wish I could just turn out some code and for me, it's just like I definitely when I'm using a code editor, I still will have to like if I'm having a low like my vision is not that great. I can't do it because I've tried to do it with the screen. I'm slowly teaching my stuff because eventually, that's something I will just need to do. But right now I'm like I can't do this. This is not me right now. I'm getting better at it. Just the other day me using the screen with VS code and I'm just like I can't but it just also might have been the code I was writing. Maybe it was more of me, like I'm going to blame the screen reader. Not that my code is trash.
Chuck Carpenter: [40:31] Got to be a learning curve, for sure because I know I'm, like, blurting out crap and I'm like, oh, that's all bad. Okay, hold on.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [40:38] Yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [40:41] So, yeah, let's pivot into a little bit of nontech stuff here. So you said you're into some video games. What kind of stuff do you like to play?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [40:50] I really like stealth games. Hitman 3 is something I've definitely its kind of like my well, it's number one right now, actually, because I haven't really played the newest DLC yet. Stealth games. I really do like Lost Judgment, which came out last year, I believe. I love. Again, not really stealth, but it's like the Yakuza games that's based. So if you're familiar with that, I've never played any of the games played Lost Judgment because people are like, it's really good, and it was really good. If it's a stealth game, for the most part, I'll play it again, Skyrim. That's kind of how I got back into console games because before then, I just really played PC, but then I got Skyrim for the PS3, and I was like, I'm going back to console.
Robbie Wagner: [41:40] Do you really like the Thieves Guild and Skyrim if you like stealth stuff?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [41:44] Yeah.
Robbie Wagner: [41:44] Or Dark Brotherhood.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [41:46] You know what's funny? I was really more hack and slash. I was just going around, and my spouse was also because I would just hoard gold, not really spending anything, and just spend my time just, like, beating up stuff. And my spouse is like, oh, well, you could do these spells. And I'm like, no, I'm not collecting any butterflies. I don't care.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:18] That's funny.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [42:19] Just raw brute strength.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:21] Yeah. Skyrim was kind of my leveler back into playing games more regularly, just in general. Like, I got a switch, played Breath of the Wild, and I was like, okay, I think I might be kind of done. I don't know. Nothing else is really doing this for me. And someone was like. You have to play this. You have to play this, played that, and then, yeah, that was that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [42:39] I mean, yeah, I have it, like, literally every version. And I hate every time. It's like, it's on Switch. Okay, I'll get it. I don't know why, but just in case, I want to play Skyrim on Switch.
Robbie Wagner: [42:51] Sounds nice.
Chuck Carpenter: [42:52] Yeah, sure. It's not bad when you're traveling. You have a lot of hours. There you go.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [43:00] I can't really use VR because of, but I'm like, will I get so I can at least try it?
Chuck Carpenter: [43:08] That's fair, that's fair.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [43:09] That's kind of one of my things that I can decompress. Like, kind of get away with my knob. Like, let me not think about work the dumpster fire that is the earth right now. Let me just escape into some games.
Robbie Wagner: [43:26] For sure. I like Skyrim a lot. I like to play. I've talked about this a few times. People may be tired of hearing about it, but I am like games that feel like a job. I want it to be really grindy, like, do this now, do this now, do that. Because it's like, then I feel better about not doing work. And it's still work because I'm playing this game and checking off this list.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [43:46] It's so weird. Like, when it comes to getting grindy, I haven't played Offspring, but that's because I don't really like Soulsborne games. I like watching other people play Soulsborne games. But I cannot sit there and try to I'm just like, no, I'm not that good. I will watch other people do it. And I'm like, yeah, I wish this could be me, but it's not me.
Robbie Wagner: [44:07] Yeah, I am not good at it either. I played Dark Souls for like 2 hours, and it's like, no, this is not for me. So I didn't even try Elden Ring because I knew it would be the same thing.
Chuck Carpenter: [44:19] I've got nothing on those games.
Robbie Wagner: [44:22] Oh, you haven't checked those out? Have you heard of Elden Ring?
Chuck Carpenter: [44:25] Yes, I think I've seen it in Stadia or something.
Robbie Wagner: [44:29] Yeah, it was hyped because it was like George R.R. Martin wrote the story for it or whatever, I guess.
Chuck Carpenter: [44:35] Got you. Okay.
Robbie Wagner: [44:36] Yeah, I was excited because of that. And then I found out the gameplay was like Dark Souls and I was like, yeah.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [44:43] They were like, it's a little bit different, it's open world. And I'm like, yeah, it's Dark Souls for open world so. Yeah. They were like if you like Skyrim. And I'm like.
Robbie Wagner: [44:54] Yeah, that's just terrifying. Like, I'm going to have now random encounters with all these things I can't beat because it's open world.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [45:02] Exactly.
Robbie Wagner: [45:05] So you said you're into some improv stuff.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [45:08] Yes, I haven't done anything lately, but I've been doing improv since 2010. I used to live in Toronto, and one day I passed by Second City, and I was like, you know what I really love? I moved Toronto because I really had funny enough, it was one of those like one Degrassi of like growing up, I'm watching Degrassi, also Kids in the Hall. That's where they're from, Toronto. And I love kids in the hall and also SCTV and stuff. So someone who's really was into comedy, and so I was passing by, and I'm like, yeah, I'll take classes and do improv. And so I started taking classes there. When I moved back to Colorado, I started taking classes here, and I just started performing for a little bit. I did a limited-run show called Stemprov, which was like improv mixed with Stem. So we would have someone talk about either science tech and things like that, and then we would do sketches like improv around it. Also like one show, which was the engineering show, we built a balsa wood structure. If you are familiar with Odyssey of the Mind, there's like this competition.
Robbie Wagner: [46:30] I did that.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [46:31] Yeah. And so I was like, I did that once, and I was like, how about we do an Odyssey of the Mind thing where we built up a balsa wood structure and every kind of improv scene we have to add to the structure and then at the end of the show, we have to put weights on it. It actually worked. This show was like the 6 or 7 people that came to that show. Every time it was put on, I really thanked them. They were very good crowd. It was a small but dedicated crowd. But yeah, I love comedy I love improv. The funny thing is I have social anxiety disorder. And in a way, me getting up on the stage is a battle every time. It's a lot I have to do, a lot to prepare, but the thing of my love of comedy wins out, and then so I'll do it, and then I'm a complete mess days after a show.
Robbie Wagner: [47:32] Yeah, I totally get that. I'm similar with going to a conference or something. Like if I'm with that many people for a couple of hours, I'm like, okay, I'm going to go hide for the rest of the day. I'll see you later.
Chuck Carpenter: [47:45] Yeah, it's reasonable. Introverted extroverts or something like that is what they call it. Sort of like getting some of that mass attention, but then for a period of time, and then you need to regress back in.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [47:57] Yeah, for me, it's one of those things I've learned how to kind of deal with it. And it's taken years to the point where in the past when I was younger, it really did cause a lot of issues in my life. To the point where I even had a doctor of, like, say, have you thought about going on disability? Because my lack of really being able to interact with people was at a point where I couldn't do anything. And it's taken medication and therapy and things like that to really get me into the point where people are like, how can you do these things? And it's like, it didn't happen overnight. I had a lot of help. And the thing is, there's so much I've wanted to do, and now I'm at the point where I'm like, I can do those things, but it's still very hard. Even something like this is hard for me. Like when I start to lose, like even now I don't really study, but I do lose words I want to say. And that's because I'm so overwhelmed and anxious and things like that. But I have to power through because it's otherwise. And sometimes, I can power through. And that's when I'm like, you know what, guess what? I'm not going to be on camera for a meeting. Or I'm like, I'm going to have to reschedule because it's like it ain't happening today.
Chuck Carpenter: [49:18] Yeah, well, luckily in this instance, it's very low risk.
Robbie Wagner: [49:23] Yes. So we're about at time here. Was there anything we missed or anything you would like to plug or projects are working on or anything?
Crystal Preston-Watson: [49:34] I don't think there's anything missin. Like plug, I mean. I just like to tell people in all my talks, really, it's like, accessibility is a human and civil, right? Just do things with purpose. And when it comes to accessibility, just make sure it's a priority, and it's not an afterthought and learn about it. It's okay to not know about it. Like, if anyone's like, oh, you should be ashamed of that. We all have to start anywhere, and it's really about just starting and learning about it. And I'm on Twitter. I'm always free for someone to ask me questions about accessibility, so I guess I can always, when you put this out, you can put my Twitter handle Scopic Engineer. I'm more than happy to answer questions. Yeah, that's really it. Other than, thank you for having me come on.
Chuck Carpenter: [50:27] Yeah, thank you.
Robbie Wagner: [50:27] Thanks for coming on.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [50:28] This is fun. And give me whiskey. I will taste test. I'm so sorry when you were tasting, and I'm like, maybe I could have just smelt the bottle.
Robbie Wagner: [50:41] Well, yeah, it's no pressure. We've had several guests that don't drink at all, and we've done different things, so it's all up to what our people are comfortable with. No worries.
Crystal Preston-Watson: [50:53] Awesome.
Robbie Wagner: [50:53] Thanks, everyone, for listening. If you liked it, please subscribe, and we will catch you next time.
Chuck Carpenter: [50:58] Boom, boom, boom, boom. Thanks for listening to Whiskey Web and Whatnot. This podcast is brought to you Ship Shape, and produced by Podcast Royale. If you like this episode, consider sharing it with a friend or two and leave us a rating, maybe a review, as long as it's good.
Robbie Wagner: [51:17] You can subscribe to future episodes on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. For more info about Ship Shape and this show, check out our website at shipshape.io.