Celebrating those setting the trend in digital inclusivity

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Image credit: Adobe Stock/Colin Fearing.

In our interconnected world, accessibility has evolved beyond just helping those with diverse abilities navigate and remove barriers in the physical world, we now need to keep this as the world moves online. Digital access signifies a more inclusive environment where everyone has access to information, regardless of their abilities. Many countries, including the US, Canada, UK, and European Union members have mandated accessibility — including digital accessibility — into recent regulations.

Adobe Acrobat is pivotal for creating accessible digital documents. It helps ensure PDFs are more accessible to those with disabilities, fostering inclusivity and helping stay up to date with standards. Making digital technology accessible requires collaboration and allyship — and that's where our trend setters step in.

Who they are

Everyone should have access to express themselves and bring their imagination to life. We constantly strive to move the needle toward a more diverse and inclusive technology. These trend setters come from diverse sectors and backgrounds, yet all demonstrate unwavering commitment to help ensure no one is left behind. Schools are implementing online learning, governments are streamlining with digital public services, and companies like Telstra are emphasizing accessible end-to-end user experiences. These trend setters, central to Adobe, utilize tools like Acrobat to help remove barriers and produce more inclusive content. Their stories exemplify how, when equipped with the right resources and an unwavering spirit, these leaders have been transformative in driving initiatives to better prepare the world for the future.

Meet our 2023 Accessibility Trend Setters

Photograph Dax Castro owner/partner Chax Training and Consulting.

Dax Castro, co-founder of CHAX Training and Consulting, is a fervent advocate for accessibility. As an Adobe Certified PDF Accessibility Trainer and Certified Accessible Document Specialist, he collaborates with global giants like the World Health Organization to enhance digital content accessibility. Using Acrobat Pro, he addresses unique challenges to ensure content accessibility such as redesigning organizational charts for the visually impaired and enhancing PDF navigation. Outside of consulting, Castro actively engages with the global accessibility community via his Facebook group and podcast, championing the "born accessible" approach, advocating for inclusivity to be intrinsic to design processes. His devotion to inclusivity is clear in both his professional undertakings and personal tributes to the cause.

Photograph of Kathy Crowley, Marjorie Jordan, founders of Readability Matters.

The co-founders of non-profit Readability Matters exemplify how passion truly fuels transformative impacts. Their in-depth research has established that subtle changes in reading settings, such as shape, size and spacing of text, can significantly affect proficiency.

Whether it's the nuances of personal typographical preferences or catering to the unique needs of the diverse population, their work has proven that personalizing the reading experience with reading setting changes can yield faster reading rates and deeper comprehension. To see this in action, explore typographical personalization in their sandbox.

"Their work has also informed the continued evolution of Adobe Acrobat Reader’s Liquid Mode — Liquid Mode is the ability to reflow documents to fit the screen a document is being viewed on and then adjust reading settings to personalize the reading experience. Liquid Mode was just named one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2023.

Their dedication is helping to realize the future where digital reading aligns with individual needs and preferences, putting the option for better reading into the hands of all readers. Their dedication, amplified by Adobe Acrobat, earned recognition from esteemed outlets like Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards and EdTech Leadership Awards, highlighting their innovative contributions to accessibility.

World Education

Photograph of Jen Vanek, director of digital learning and research. Victoria Neff, assistant director of the edtech center World Education.

Reading is fundamental, but ensuring access for diverse global populations presents challenges, especially in regions like sub-Saharan Africa. In Malawi, World Education is pioneering new avenues to increase accessibility to crucial healthcare information. Up to today, each of twelve hundred community case workers (CCW) rely on a binder of paper “job aids” or guidance documents that help them support HIV-affected families. The binders are problematic in that they are bulky, damage easily in the tropics, are costly to update, and stigmatize families seen having a CCW.

Now, using a version of Adobe Acrobat Reader specifically designed for low-powered phones, World Education is digitizing critical healthcare job aids, ensuring offline access and customizable document settings. With support from Adobe, the project will also be equipping health facilities with solar panel charging stations, addressing a critical barrier of accessing electricity to charge CCW phones. This improves the portability and efficacy of these guides, lighting the path to a better healthcare future, with a projected 71,562 children, adolescent, and caregiver beneficiaries annually.

World Education’s field test of Liquid Mode also shows how it can transform adult education,
helping to deliver readable versions to every student, enabling the digital accommodation of large class sizes and varied tech environments. World Education exemplifies the remarkable potential of technology, ensuring content is adaptable and optimized for comprehension by diverse global audiences.

Photograph of Caroline Desrosiers, founder & CEO Scribely.

The breadth of reading needs is vast and varied. Scribely, born out of a profound passion for e-book publishing, recognized the urgent call to make content more universally accessible. With publishing clients ranging from children’s books to pediatric medical textbooks, they embrace and champion the "born accessible" philosophy. Scribely helps their customers optimize publishing workflows starting in Adobe InDesign, to prioritize accessibility from the ground up. With the help of Adobe's Acrobat, they've mastered the art of seamlessly integrating alternate text and image descriptions, ensuring that PDFs aren't just readable, but truly accessible for everyone — even the smallest and newest of readers.

Caroline Desrosiers, Scribely’s founder, established Scribely in 2020 and is a prominent advocate and educator for an inclusive digital future. Scribely is helping reimagine and implement the future of inclusive content by combining Adobe's solutions with their expertise. With their work, the publishing world is not just witnessing enhanced online representation but also ensuring that every piece of content is available to all readers, regardless of their abilities.

Photograph of Lorraine Greenaway, accessibility senior specialist Telstra.

Lorraine Greenaway is not just an accessibility leader at Telstra, but a true pioneer who recognizes the potential for inclusion at every turn. Upon joining Telstra two years ago, she was quickly thrust into the challenging landscape of digital content accessibility, identifying over 10,000 target documents for remediation. With her dedicated team, the largest digital accessibility team in the country, they embarked on a methodical journey of retrofitting these documents to meet current accessibility standards. Progressively, thousands of documents have been revisited, renewed, and remediated, ensuring that Telstra's wide-ranging audience, from customers seeking assistance to employees accessing internal resources, can engage effortlessly.

Central to their journey has been Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, an indispensable tool in their arsenal. "Whether it's ensuring that a hefty 290-page Terms & Conditions document is accessible, or swiftly remedying a set of documents, the power of Acrobat and its accessibility checker has been pivotal.” Telstra is closely collaborating with Adobe’s accessibility team, ensuring continuous improvement in both the tools and the content. From auto-tagging to remediation, Acrobat stands as a beacon in their journey toward making all documents "born accessible." Lorraine beautifully sums it up: "Accessibility — once you show people how it can help, everybody wants to jump on board." In the grand tapestry of digital inclusion, Lorraine and her team at Telstra, empowered by Adobe Acrobat, are indeed weaving a world where accessibility is not just an afterthought, but an intrinsic part of the design and delivery process.

Photograph of Kellie Mote, subject specialist (accessibility) and Photograph of Andrew Kirsfelds, software team lead Jisc.

Jisc is the UK digital, data and technology agency focused on tertiary education, research and innovation. Jisc provides products and services, enhanced with expertise and intelligence to provide sector leadership and enable digital transformation. Eighteen million people and one thousand connected organizations are powered by Jisc’s Janet Network.

Actively seeking innovative technologies, Kellie Mote and Andrew Kirsfelds led a pilot to automate accessibility conversion of thousands of Jisc documents using Adobe’s PDF Accessibility Auto-Tag API. They found the API robust and easy to use and estimate colleagues were able to reduce manual remediation workloads by one third, making content accessible quicker and optimizing resources.

With the UK’s government mandated accessibility requirements, digital accessibility is one of Jisc’s biggest communities. Jisc is actively sharing and scaling their accessibility automation experience using Adobe Acrobat Services to help guide member institutions when meeting accessibility regulations. With each document they make accessible, and with each institution they guide, Jisc is living their belief that accessibility is a priority, and with the right tools and intent, it can be seamlessly integrated into the digital age.