Meet Catriona Morrison, Jadu’s new Accessibility Specialist.

As part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re really excited to share that as part of our mission to become the world’s most accessible digital platform, we’ve extended our accessibility team! 

We’d like to introduce you to Catriona Morrison, our new Accessibility Specialist who will work closely with our customers and team. For our customers who will work with Catriona, we wanted to ask her some questions so you can get an insight into her background and passions!


1. Tell us a little bit about you, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love learning new things and falling down many rabbit holes, so I have a wide range of half-learned and then abandoned hobbies! Most often you’ll find me deeply immersed in a story of some kind, whether a game, book or new TV show (currently Baldur’s Gate)! When torn away from the screen, I love hiking, cooking and badly grooving to some funky jazz fusion.

2. Tell us a bit about your work background?

I started out as far away from a tech career as you can get, as an English Literature and Classics graduate in publishing. A career in digital accessibility really is accessible for all! 

It was during a module on Interactive Media, combined with my love for games and interactive fiction, where I felt the pull to all things digital. I then landed my first role in the HarperCollins' Digital team, focusing on Audio and ebooks. 

Working with ebooks then introduced me to the world of Accessibility. Once I learned we could actively make technology inclusive for all there was no turning back. From then on, digital accessibility has been at the heart of my career.

3. How did you get into a career focused on digital accessibility?

Ever since I was introduced to digital accessibility, I worked on improving my own knowledge of standards, technologies and practices and introducing those practices into workflows where I could. Starting out, that meant reworking images to extract text and where I could and convincing editors and designers not to use colour or visual cues as the only means of conveying information. When I was in a position of overseeing our technical specifications, that meant I could introduce changes across all of our ebook titles, focusing on semantic HTML markup and introducing WAI-ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles to improve interaction with different assistive technologies. 

Once we learned about the European Accessibility Act, meaning all ebook products and e-commerce sites selling into the EU have to meet accessibility standards, I had the legal backing to approach leadership about making accessibility a priority. From there I started an Accessibility Working Group and worked with teams across the business, from introducing alt-text creation to bringing websites and metadata up to current standards.

4. What makes you passionate about accessibility?

My biggest drive comes from the simple belief that everyone should have the same right to access, understand and enjoy content regardless of ability, background or device! A disability is only so because of the barriers in our technology and beyond. Removing those barriers is not only essential for some but improves the user experience for all. I’m definitely biased but everyone I’ve met in the accessibility world has been lovely, simply because they really care about inclusivity and putting people first. 

5. Why did you want to join Jadu? 

In my previous job, I found it challenging keeping accessibility as a top priority whilst balancing the demands of my daily role. I also felt like I'd reached the limits of my knowledge as the sole accessibility specialist, and I wanted a full-time role where I could keep learning and growing within a dedicated accessibility team, working on websites that would serve a wide range of people. 

When I saw the role at Jadu I was thrilled. Not only was it a position within an accessibility team but also for a company whose mission is to be the world’s most accessible digital platform! Beyond the clear dedication to accessibility, the advert’s emphasis on development and the commitment to collaboration and inclusivity, from the available blogs, webinars, and shared library of resources for customers on our website, made it seem like such an exciting opportunity.

Once I saw that my own council’s user-friendly website, the City of Edinburgh council, was powered by Jadu (practise what you preach) I was sold!

6. What do you want to achieve in your new role?

With new technologies constantly emerging and evolving standards improving, I’ve learned that rather than having any one goal like conquering WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), a career in digital accessibility means continuous learning! 

What I do want to achieve in my role, is to continue improving our level of user research and feedback. There’s always room for improvement as our platform and customer’s wider products reach such a wide variety of users. Learning more about the barriers people face and their individual needs and caring about their situations will help us be as accessible as we can to as many people as possible. 

7. What excites you about your new role?

Working on products that reach everybody! The great part about working with customers in the public sector in Local Government, Higher Education and Healthcare is that our end products will serve people of all abilities and backgrounds so they have to be as user friendly and accessible to as many people as possible.

In my previous roles, I would spend half of my time struggling with internal stakeholders,  educating and reinforcing to them as to why accessibility is important, what is exciting about my new role is I don’t have to do that at Jadu. Everybody already understands, and already cares about accessibility and the end user! We work on issues collaboratively and constantly audit throughout the development process, ensuring we are considering inclusion from the beginning. 

8. What do you want to see happen with digital accessibility?

There are so many brilliant new tools and technologies now available, from AI based apps like Seeing AI, Signapse and HeardThat to fully customisable adaptive controllers for gaming but fundamentally the real change I’d like to see is the base level of accessibility of websites improving across the board. 

The latest WebAIM Million report which analysed the accessibility of the top 1 million home pages showed that 96% of the most popular websites fail accessibility standards with the big fails coming from the easier fixes like low contrast text, missing alt text and missing form labels. They might seem like small issues but they cause big barriers to access for people with vision impairments and users of assistive technologies. Failures like these tend to come from a lack of awareness, I’d love to see those being cleared up across the board and being kept in mind with any website updates in the near future through wide-spread awareness and education!

9. How important is culture when it comes to accessibility? 

It’s incredibly important! The main reasons behind inaccessible websites and products all stem from a lack of awareness and understanding in the organisation itself. If a company can invest in fostering an inclusive culture where everyone's contributions are valued then it’s easier to promote awareness of the barriers to and benefits of accessibility as well as a sense of shared responsibility. If your staff feel included then they will be more open minded and unafraid to participate and ask the needed questions on how they can work to improve accessibility across the organisation. 

If you consider accessibility and inclusive design in your own workplace practices and culture, paying attention to your own systems and training, then that filters down into your products from the very start. When everyone tests for accessibility and considers the user throughout the design process then you’ll inevitably improve the user experience of your product which in turn will increase your customer base and satisfaction. 

10. Does leadership play a big part in accessibility? If so, how?

Absolutely! A company’s culture and by extension its products all originate from its leadership. If leadership can encourage and emphasise the significance of accessibility to their staff they can promote that shared awareness and responsibility throughout. If your company already has a self appointed working group or accessibility champion, it’s so important for leadership to listen to them, foster their internal talent and to not be a blocker in their way of building accessibility into the workplace and products. The Leadership of any company hold the purse strings and by acknowledging that spending time and money now investing in training, examining internal practices or audits will only result in a larger customer base and return on that investment. If your products are semantically built from the ground up it also means you will be ready for any future innovations in tools and technology!

11. Any advice for those wanting to learn more or start out in accessibility?

It can be daunting starting out on any accessibility journey, whether in your own career or in improving your company’s accessibility knowledge and practices. The WCAG 2.2 and WAI-ARIA 1.2 standards and guidelines can seem especially daunting at first! It’s all a learning process and with the constantly changing technologies and updating standards, we’re all continuously learning. 

There are loads of brilliant resources out there but my main advice would be to get involved in the community through some of the groups like the Champions of Accessibility Network or the A11y Slack community, or even just exploring the websites of the a11y webring project and make the most of the rich knowledge available. Remember there’s no such thing as a silly question - any question you could have has definitely already been asked and investigated before! We all start from somewhere, as long as you keep caring about the users and keep learning about the barriers people face then you’ll be well on your way in the journey to accessibility!

If you’re interested in learning more about accessibility at Jadu, including our solutions, design services, audits, training (and more), get in touch

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