As an individual who identifies as blind I use a screen reader, which is software that interprets digital content on all my electronic devices. This software empowers me to successfully do the work that I do and with which I am so passionate. It has taken me some time to find the best fit for my skill set in a professional setting. While I am extremely tenacious when it comes to finding ways around digital barriers, I feel that no one should have to struggle when trying to access websites, mobile apps or everyday electronics that our society has come to rely on. This is where my passion for digital accessibility began.
Recognizing how much I could contribute in helping ensure technology is built to accommodate end-user needs across the spectrum of disabilities, the challenge became finding the organization that would embrace and recognize the value of my skill set. Hilton presented itself at just the right time.
I am thrilled to be working with this leading hospitality company that is committed not only to making their public-facing digital experiences accessible but is also dedicated to ensuring internal technology platforms are accessible to their workforce. Hence, my niche…I am a Senior Accessibility Analyst on Hilton’s Digital Accessibility team. I am assigned to the delivery team, which is building our new, custom call center application. I am a fully integrated and participating member in all agile ceremonies and work directly with all cross-functional roles on this team. My work on this team is critical, as Hilton employs call center agents who are blind and visually impaired. Making this custom Call Center application accessible will allow for career advancement of our agents who are blind and visually impaired, as well as enable Hilton to expand its hiring of people of all abilities, with minimal external accommodations necessary.
My lack of vision does not keep me from living as full and rich of a life as everyone else who I encounter daily. I may just approach things from a different angle. Steven Fontaine Senior Digital Accessiblity Analyst, Hilton
I enjoy working with a dynamic software development team daily to help them understand digital accessibility considerations on all levels of the development lifecycle. I bring a firsthand account to why inclusive design is important so that people of all abilities will be able to not only work but thrive here at Hilton. Although I am only impacted by lack of vision, when it comes to digital content, I think about all aspects of making content accessible for all. I don’t want anyone to be left out.
I have the good fortune to travel across the country to our different Hilton offices for meetings and enjoy spreading the word about what I do at Hilton. People who I encounter express how impressed they are with the direction that the company is going. I also love traveling during my personal time, and my incredibly goofy, smart, and all-around loveable guide dog Robert makes sure I arrive safely wherever I am going whether for business or pleasure.
My lack of vision does not keep me from living as full and rich of a life as everyone else who I encounter daily. I may just approach things from a different angle. I think of that as a major asset when it comes to voicing a different perspective and I hope this will continue to increase the diversity of hiring on a corporate level. I do not feel that I am treated any differently than anyone else on my team, but I do think that it takes everyone who I encounter some time to find the best way for us to work together, and I try to allow everyone to come to that realization in their own time. I have found that sometimes people in larger organizations may not have had the opportunity to engage with someone of my abilities and I always try to educate as gently as possible. It is extremely rewarding to be part of this organization that is helping change the landscape of disability employment.