Hi! I’m User Experience Research Lead with The Paciello Group (TPG), a specialist digital accessibility consultancy. This is my personal blog, and the views expressed here are my own and not that of my employer…
I joined TPG in May 2013; before then I spent nearly 14 years as a researcher working in the School of Computing at the University of Dundee in Scotland. And, like most people who work in accessibility, I started off doing something completely different—following my vocation and producing maps and atlases as a digital cartographer with HarperCollins Cartographic (now Collins Bartholomew).
Now, my professional focus is on accessible user experience – helping to make digital experiences better for people with disabilities, and in turn for everyone else. I’m particularly interested in ways in which we can conduct user research with people with disabilities and with older people in order to find out more about accessibility issues in a wider context, and how they can best be accommodated in technology design.
Most of my working time supporting organisations in integrating accessibility into their digital products and services. This ranges from providing feedback on accessibility limitations on existing digital resources and how they can be addressed, to providing strategic support in changing organisational practice to better integrate accessibility and user experience into creation and use of technology. I try to fit in the gap between user and everyone involved in the process of creating and providing digital content and services. I help organisations to develop an understanding of the diversity of user needs in the design of technology, how responsibility for accessibility is best shared across all roles that influence the design, development, purchase and maintenance of digital products and services.
I’m also very interested in ways of educating everyone involved in the technology creation process in the process of accessibility and inclusive design, and more generally in user-centred design techniques and approaches. This was a major focus of my PhD, completed in 2006 and titled “The Effectiveness of the Web Accessibility Audit as a Motivational and Educational Tool in Inclusive Web Design“.
Educating people in inclusive design principles and practices is such an important part of increasing digital literacy, so I’m always happy to get involved in teaching activities. Back when I was at Dundee University, I filled quite a hybrid role—I taught on degree programmes and staff development courses, covering accessibility, usability, user-centred design, web authoring, and a range of other HCI topics, I did research, and consultancy too. As project lead of the Digital Media Access Group for over 10 years, I provided accessibility consultancy and services like web accessibility audits to clients in the private and public sectors, sharing knowledge and learning more about how best to support organisations in implementing accessibility successfully.
And now as part of TPG’s UX and strategy team, I love that I get the chance to do a lot more of that work!