Hello, and welcome to PEAT Talks, the virtual speaker series from the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. PEAT Talks showcases various organizations and individuals whose work and innovations are advancing accessible technology in the workplace. My name is Corinne Weible. I’m the Deputy Project Director for PEAT, and I’ll be hosting today’s talk. Before we get started, I’m going to quickly review a few logistics. We will have time for questions and answers, so please enter your questions in the chat window at any time. You can also use the chat window if you are having any technical difficulties, and we will do our best to resolve any issues. An archived recording and transcript after today’s event will be posted online in approximately one to two weeks, and registered attendees will receive a notification when it is available. We will be live Tweeting today’s event from @PEATWorks, so please feel free to join us and follow along using the hashtag #PEATtalks.
Today, PEAT is pleased to welcome Jeff Wieland and Monica Desai of Facebook. Jeff is Director of Accessibility at Facebook. He started the Accessibility Engineering Team, which is responsible for embedding accessibility into Facebook's engineering, design, and research processes and infrastructure. This enables Facebook to create experiences that are usable by people with disabilities. Monica is a director of global public policy at Facebook, where she focuses on issues involving online communications service providers and our video products. Prior to joining Facebook, Monica spent over a decade at the Federal Communications Commission, including service as Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, which develops policies in connection with accessibility issues, and as chief of the FCC’s Media Bureau.
With that, I’ll turn it over to Jeff and Monica.
>> JEFF: Cool, thanks so much for that intro. Hi, everybody. My name is Jeff. I'm Director of Accessibility at Facebook. You actually did a bit of some work for me, which is to provide an intro to what I've been doing the past couple years, but just to augment that a bit, my role really is to help Facebook build products that are inclusive of everyone. And the accessibility team is a team I started at Facebook seven years ago now, and really was born from my work on user research and design where I discovered there are opportunities that had to build more inclusive technologies. And that really ignited a passion in me, and this is something I've now been focused on for most of my time at Facebook.
It's exciting to be back here. I actually spoke at a PEAT talk earlier in the year, so this is round two. I was here in January with Larry from Yahoo Oath, and we were talking a bit about our work in Teach Access and embedding accessibility into university and higher education for students of technology degrees. So, very nice to be back and the time focused a little bit more on what we're doing in the world of Facebook. So, I'm going to pass it to Monica for a second, so she can talk a little more about her work, and then I'll set up some context for how we think and approach accessibility at Facebook, and Monica will talk a little about our work in outreach and policy.
>> MONICA: All right. Well, thanks, Jeff, and thanks, Corinne, for the very nice intro. And just to augment what you said, I joined Facebook about two years ago now, and before that, at the FCC, was very open on policies and rules involving accessibility both in the telecommunications relay space, as well as involving captioning and policies and issues. And it's been such a thrill to come to Facebook and see the focus that this company puts on accessibility. And you'll, you know, you'll hear from Jeff about our different, many different, initiatives, and it's really, I feel so proud to be able to share in that experience and to help focus on that, focus on these policies. With that, I'll turn it back over to Jeff. Thank you.
>> JEFF: Thanks, Monica. So, you know, in talking about accessibility at Facebook, it's impossible to do that without talking about our mission. Because the work we do on accessibility is really born from what we are trying to do as a company. And our mission is to bring the world closer together. And the previous iteration of this mission was focused on human connection, and in both of these cases, accessibility is something that is fundamental to getting this mission right. So, I think I am lucky to work at a company where the work that we're doing is so embedded inside the mission of the company, and our work really starts from that philosophical alignment. And when I started the team seven years ago, I really anchored on what we were trying to do as a company to make the pitch around why we needed to formalize a program around accessibility. And I was, you know, pleasantly surprised that the — we landed while within the company, and it was clear that in order for us to build more inclusive technologies that, you know, would ultimately allow us to achieve our mission, we needed to come up with some formal strategies for doing so.
So, like I suspect, many of the folks on this webinar are familiar with the space of accessibility is vast, and our cross functional team, inside of Facebook, and is focused on accessibility is really thinking about the diversity in the world, when it comes to disability and ability on a spectrum. So, we're thinking about how things like vision loss and blindness or hearing loss and deafness or motor disabilities or cognitive impairments might influence how somebody would interact with technology. So the goal of our team is really to understand these different use cases and interaction patterns very well and then translate that into the changes that we need to make with our products in order to make them more inclusive and to accommodate the vast diversity in the world. Again, I suspect many of the people on this webinar, you know, have researched and looked and, you know, looked at what is available on the internet today in terms of statistics and information about disability, and there's some great data and stats around the region that's working on things like the World Health Organization. So, what I thought I could do is share a little bit about some of the things that we've learned inside of Facebook's products. So, some of this might actually be you. So, one of the things that has informed our approach to accessibility at Facebook is doing a lot of research in the space of disability and understanding how people are interacting with our technologies to understand the things that we can do better.
So, I just want to highlight a couple things that are unique to Facebook that sort of complement the sort of general sense of data that's already out there. The first is that we discovered that about one in ten people use Zoom when using Facebook and a desktop browser. So, these are people who are signaling to us that they want more readable, legible experience than our web product. Similar to that, we've seen that about one in five people increase text size, the size of an eye let, but it’s actually it's on both major native platforms, so iOS and Android, so it’s been a consistent across the platforms that we're supporting.
So, certainly, this is staggering at Facebook's scale. Right? And we have hundreds of millions of people who are using our products. So, that means we have hundreds of millions of people who need the ability to increase text size and have a more legible experience with our products. But no matter what your size is, I think that’s its percentage is clear that it is very likely that whatever you’re building, there will be people who need these kind of technologies and the support for things like increasing text size in order to have a good experience with your product. And the third stat I'll share is related to the use of screen readers, with our mobile versions of Facebook. So, we have seen that there are over 100,000 people, and this is very much a lower bound estimate, that every day are using technologies like voiceover and talkback with our native platforms.
So, again, if we're going to hit our mission of bringing the world closer together, and doing that for everybody, then certainly, we need to make sure that things that we’ll build are going to be good and robust for all of these different ways that people are going to interact with our products. So, I want to talk a little about how that works and how our team operates inside of Facebook. One of the big challenges for our team is really to accommodate this scale of Facebook. So, at this point, I think we have a little over 20,000 people. We're building thousands of features across hundreds of product teams, and the goal of our cross functional team is really to think about how to embed accessibility into all the different functions that we have. And there are many more than the ones I have listed here, but just to call out a couple major ones, we have design; we have research; we have engineering. All of these different disciplines have a lot to bring to the equation when it comes to accessibility. And so, a lot of what my team thinks about is: how we set up these different groups for success, on accessibility, to make it efficient and automatic for the work that they do, so that it’s going to work at the scale we're at?
And to give you one example of that, in the space of design, for instance, we partner, really closely, with the folks who are responsible for the Facebook design system, which is the set of rules and guidelines around things like color, and contrast and interaction patterns, etc. So, we work with them to make sure that accessibility is part of that, because those concepts, obviously, play an important part in the field of accessibility and the way that we can make technologies more inclusive. And if we can get the Facebook design systems to reinforce accessibility, it means all of the product teams, whether or not it's newsfeed or groups or messenger, who are looking at those guidelines and rules, are going to pull on the right things for accessibility. So, that's really the sort of focus of the team.
The second big pillar of the work is actually to work on specific features in the space of accessibility. Accessibility is sort of an interesting space because on the one hand, it is a set of best practices around design and implementation., but on the other hand, it is also a set of very specific features that we need to support in order to make inclusive products. So, I'm not going to go through an exhaustive list of the work that we've done in this space of features, but I want do to call out some of the larger bets we've been making over the past year or two. And one is certainly in the space of captioning. Video is obviously becoming a huge way that people are sharing with their friends and family about the things that are happening in their world. And so, we've been investing a lot in the space of captioning over the past couple years to make sure that we’re creating a video platform that will be inclusive for everyone.
And so just to call out a couple of the milestones along the way, a couple years ago, we shipped the first version of captioning, that basically allowed you to attach a text file, with the video that you uploaded, that would provide captioning for that video. Then, we added the ability to customize the way that the captions display to the end user. So, if you want to increase text size for your captions, or you want to change the color or the opacity background for captions, these are things we now support.
With the increase in real-time video, now being shared, and more broadcasters posting through Facebook, we've also been investing in real-time captioning capabilities. So, one of the things that we announced earlier in the year was the ability for video publishers to work with vendors to do real-time captioning with the video streams that they're creating for Facebook. And there's a bunch of other work that’s now happening in the spaces now captioning moving forward that continue to make real-time captioning much easier and less expensive, so we can add it to all videos in the future.
The other, I think, larger area of investment for us from a feature standpoint over the past couple years have been investing in features that we think are really meaningful in the space of vision loss and, particularly, for compatibility with technologies like screen readers. And one feature launch in that I want to call out is something that we call automatic alt text, which is our use of object recognition to describe photos for somebody who is using a screen reader.
And his project was really born out of research that we did with people with vision loss, who are using screen readers, about what were some of the challenges that they were facing in using the internet and Facebook as well. And one of the consistent themes that we heard was that more and more of technology, and specifically the internet, is very photo rich and this is certainly true of Facebook. You know, if you open your feed and you want to learn about what your friends and family are doing, a lot of the ways that they share that information is through images, through photos. And so we thought that this was something that was important for us to solve, and the challenge for us was thinking about how to do that at scale.
The traditional way to do this is, is to provide users with the ability to provide a text equivalent description of a photo. But the challenge for us, is that we're flowing a few billion photos through our service every week. So, how do we make sure that all of those photos have more context for what is in them? And we landed on a solution of using computers and machine learning, so that we could provide at least, you know, a rudimentary description of what was in photos to complement the captions that people were providing. And so, we partnered with the AI team for about a year-and-a-half to design a system that we thought worked for our use case and did a bunch of refinements and user testing and experiments with people who were using screen readers to understand what was landing and what we needed to improve and, ultimately, launched that back in, I think, 2016 and then have been updating it quite a bit over the course of the last year, adding new concepts. One of the things we heard from users was a desire for more information about people, which makes a lot of sense because people are often the most interesting parts of photos, and so we did some work with the AI team to describe what people are doing in photos, like playing sports or playing instruments, etc.
So, and we're continuing to look at ways that we can advance the quality and sort of concept space that we're using. One of the investments right now, which we're really excited about, is being able to identify text in photos, because people are often sharing photos that include text overlaid on them, and those are often integral to the story being told for that photo. So, that's the current investment area for the team right now. So, the other thing I want to flag in this space of sort of interesting product changes for accessibility at Facebook is, as some of you may know, we launched a stand alone version of Facebook, focused on use cases for businesses and organizations to help them with communication and organization more generally. And his is really born out of the fact that at Facebook, for a long time, we were using our own product to do a lot of our business and more formal communication, and so we thought that this might be something that would benefit other companies and organizations. So, we spun out a large team to focus on building Workplace, which is this business product, and it's been really awesome to see some really large organizations adopt Workplace. I have listed here Starbucks as one, and t's been great to get some of these organizations on there, because they obviously have a very diverse employee base, and it’s been a great channel for us to get feedback on things that we can improve in this space of accessibility.
One of the benefits of using Workplace is that it's built on the same infrastructure that our consumer products are built on. So, a lot of the work that we have done to make facebook.com accessible carries over into Workplace as well. And we were really excited that last year, the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the U.K, which is one of the larger vision loss organizations in you U.K.,. came on board as a, initially a beta partner for workplace accessibility, sorry, for Workplace, generally, but now that we're out of beta and fully launched, they're simply using it like everybody else. So, it’s been neat to see disability focused organizations adopt Workplace as a platform for their own organization and communication.
Cool. So, I'm actually going to skip this slide, because I think Monica is going to go into a little bit more detail on this stuff in a moment and then I can return to this if there's anything I want to add. So, I'm going to pass this along to Monica in a second. The last thing I want to flag here is you following along with a lot of the work we're doing in our products on our social media page, which is facebook.com/accessibility. So, I definitely encourage you all to join that page and follow along with the work that we're doing, but hppy to return to any of these topics at the end, where I know that we have some time for questions, but I want to pass this to Monica, to talk more about the work we're doing that's based in policy.
>> MONICA: Thank you, Jeff. So I'm going to talk a little about Facebook, accessibility ethos and some of the partnerships and initiatives that we've developed to promote accessibility as part of our policy goals. As Jeff mentioned at the beginning, this is really central to everything we do on the policy side, is our goal is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, and we take that to heart that that means everyone, regardless of ability. So, we want to make sure that anyone can access the information and the connections that happen on Facebook, and an example of that is we want to make captioning available to, to everyone. We believe that access is opportunity and we want to drive innovation and accessibility that extends beyond Facebook. Some examples here, that we're advancing accessibility training in higher education and contributing to web standards that help to make the internet accessible. And we view accessibility as a horizontal function at Facebook. Jeff talked about cross functional teams. What that means is that accessibility is embedded into the different departments that touch the product lifecycle of any product, including research, design, engineering, and we often pull in policy and legal as well, and so it goes through, every product goes through an entire cross functional review, which we feel is very important.
We also recognize that to build products that are access everyone, we need to have employee diversity and, at Facebook, hiring people with disabilities is a large priority. We have a dedicated program and recreating to supporting employees and candidates with disabilities. I also want to speak about some of our accessibility partnerships and initiatives. And Jeff mentioned, spoke a little bit about the Workplace. One example was our partnership with Royal National Institute of Blind People, which a beta partner for accessibility for Workplace. For those who are not familiar, Jeff discussed Workplace features from Facebook to businesses and organizations, and it’s been built a dedicated and secure space for employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate. And at Facebook, we use workplace between and among teams to share everything from discussions about implementing new features and test results to product announcements to social events, and building accessibility, specifically to this platform, enables all employees to share in this powerful tool. Over 30,000 companies and organizations worldwide use Workplace to connect their employees. 20% of the staff at the Royal National Institute of Blind People is blind or partially sighted, and with the Workplace accessibility tools, RNIB could adopt a platform, improve collaboration, and connect everyone across a diverse national organization.
The group head of digital content, Clive Gardiner, said, "As a result, for the first time, all our RNIB employees can collaborate, participate, and share ideas. We have never had this level of flexibility and accessibility for our blind and partially-sighted staff." We work, we're proud to sponsor a number of accessibility organizations and support the important work that they do. Some examples are the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. and others. Facebook is also quite proud to be part of the Teach Access initiative. This was announced this initiative was announced on the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July of 2015. Teach Access brings industry, academia, and advocacy together to create models for teaching and training students of technology to create accessible experiences. This initiative includes, among others: Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Stanford, MIT and Georgia Tech. The challenge is that accessibility is not often taught in computer science, design, and user experience degree programs. So, Teach Access launched an online tutorial, covering best practices for accessible software design. And we're honored that Teach Access has won a Heroes of Accessibility Award from Nobility and received an honorable mention for the FCC’s Chairman’s Award for advancements in accessibility. Facebook is an active member of the W3C standards body. We contribute to the accessibility rich internet application standard, which is the most important accessibility focused web framework for making HTML/JS/CSS based websites more accessible. Specifically, we help write the authoring of practices guidelines guide, which is the set of examples to help developers implement the standard effectively. Let me conclude that on behalf of both of us, we very much thank you for the opportunity to discuss our accessibility platform and initiatives, and we would be happy to answer any questions.
>>CORINNE: Thanks so much to you both. That was wonderful. So, we’re now going to open this up for questions, so if you have a question, please share it in the chat window, or you can also email or tweet it to us.
And, I'm going to start off with a few that came in during your presentation. The first question is for Jeff, and it’s from Melanie. And she asked: While you were sharing statistics about accessibility at Facebook, are these statistics available in a report?
>> JEFF: Yeah. That's a good question. Some of these statistics are likely available somewhere, but they're not codified in any like single report somewhere. We have a research portal though, that is publicly-accessible, that is the repository for a lot of the research that we do in this space of accessibility. And you can go there, trying to remember what that link is. Maybe I can follow up with, with that so you can see it, but I think if you did a search on Google for Facebook research, you’d likely find it, and you can find, within that, you can search for accessibility and some of the keywords in this space and certainly find some of the stuff that I’ve talked about here. That's a good question, and maybe that's something that we can think about for the future, which is to do some sort of larger share-out around some of the global statistics that we've done. I would say that we are, we recently did very massive global disability survey for Facebook users, and that is not research that we've yet published, but we would like to, and it’s on our radar to do so, and I suspect that would come by the end of the year, so that will likely be something to look out for, because it would cover even a lot more ground than what I shared initially, so far.
And I think, let me see if I have the link here. It’s research.FB.com is the link to the portal, so you can check out things there. Stay tuned on, I think, the exact thing you want, which I think will be published later in the year.
>> CORINNE: Great Thank you, and a gold star to Alice, in the comments, who found that link, which looks correct, and it’s in the chat window, if anybody wants it.
So the next question came in over email. It’s from Kathy, and she asks: What screen reader is recommended for use with the Facebook advantage, and is there any documentation or help guide specifically for admins who use screen readers? There's so much stuff on the admin page and so many headings that it's difficult to navigate.
In terms of how to’s and sort of FAQ’s on specific products, we don't have this sort of segmented out by product areas, but we do have a fair amount of suggestions on how to get the best experience from Facebook, sort of on the dimension of accessibility, via our help center. So, if you go to Facebook.com/help/accessibility, we do have a lot of content there around how to use the tools I’ve talked about as well as many others that I didn’t talk about that are focused on accessibility, and in some cases, focused on screen reader compatibility and having good experience when using the keyboard or screen reader only to interact with Facebook. But your sort of suggestion around having this biproduct is a good one and something we should think about for the future.
>> CORINNE: Great, thank you. So, I see another question from Margo. What is the prioritization process for accessibility features? Does that happen within each sub team by each project manager, or is it a broader company set of policies?
>> JEFF: Yeah. That’s a good question. It depends a little bit. As I mentioned before, accessibility is this, I think, interesting space, can on the one hand, it is about how do you foundationally make a product compatible with things like screen readers or supporting things like iOS setting for dynamic type, which allows you to increase text size inside your application. For a lot of these things that we looked at as fundamental of designing and implementing with accessibility in mind, that's essentially just a part of the process of shipping at Facebook now. I mean, we do quality assurance against these concepts for all of the products that we build, and it’s really baked into the lifecycle in a really direct way, so that it's not necessarily something that, you know, an individual product team needs to officially put on their roadmap, because it is already on their roadmap by virtue of the fact that they go through the process of doing quality assurance for accessibility, in a lot of cases, doing research with people with disabilities before they get to the build phase. So, the process really enforces accessibility when it comes to the fundamentals.
Now, if we're talking about features, in particular, so, if we’re talking about the video player and features in this space of captioning, then yes. There would likely be much more pointed and in depth conversation on a product team level around what are the feature sets that we need to build in the space of accessibility. And in some cases, that work happens outside of the accessibility team, and we're not that involved, but in some cases, we are involved, especially if there is uncertainty about what's the right thing to build and how to build it. And so a lot of the work from the central accessibility team is to act as a guide and supporter for a lot of that work and to answer questions that the product team have when they're embarking on something that need a specific feature to be built in the space of accessibility. So, it really depends a bit on what we're talking about in the space of accessibility.
>> CORINNE: Great, thank you. Another question from Tucker. Do you believe in the future that Facebook will offer colorblindness options, such as the change of the color for the messaging?
>> JEFF: Interesting. I like that idea. There are a fair amount of operating system-level tweaks that you can make to the color pallet of product Facebook being one, but there are many. So, yes, I think it's a possibility, but I think whatever we would build, we would want to make sure that we're not duplicating things that are already available at the operating system-level, but the spirit of the idea makes sense.
>> CORINNE: Great. So a question from Gary. How do you balance facial recognition and object recognition for alternative text with privacy concerns?
>> MONICA: Oh sure. I can take that question. You know, that has been a subject of hysterical evaluation with the company, and one that has involved with various outside organizations as well. I think it's important for people to recognize that there is a balance, and Gary, I'm glad you put it that way. I think sometimes people come in, you know and focus only on one side or the other. And I think there has to be a recognition that if you're only focused on privacy, for example, that could have consequences with respect to, for example, this accessibility in this case. And our automatic alt text, in particular, has won a number of awards from various organizations, including the Federal Communications Commission, because of the impact it has had on making the content within Facebook more accessible to a much broader reach of people.
You're right. It is a very tough balance. It's hard to know what the right balance is, but I think it's important. I think your question is fundamentally important, because I think people have to recognize that there has to be a balance, and the balance can't, you know, it has to consider all aspects, including accessibility.
>> CORINNE: Great, thank you. Question from Shawn. You mentioned 20,000 people are involved with accessibility. How many people are on the central accessibility team?
>> JEFF: So, yeah, good question. So 20,000 people are Facebook employees, is actually the number there. But the way you describe it is actually not that far off with how we thought about the program itself in the sense that our view really is that accessibility is everyone's job. It is not the job of, you know, a single cross functional team to solve all of the challenges in the space of accessibility. And the only way that accessibility is going to scale at company like Facebook and also, more generally, across the world, is if everyone who is contributing to this space of technology is aware of accessibility and doing what they can to build more inclusive technologies.
And one example of the way that we are trying to structure the program that way is by doing onboarding for product managers, engineering, user research, design, [indiscernible] strategy, operations, focused on accessibility. So that, when, you know, new employees come into Facebook, it is clear to them that accessibility is a thing that they own and that they are accountable for. And then our job is to make sure they have what they need to be successful on it. So we’ve really structured the program to be that way. In terms of the, sort of central team that is thinking about those programs to make that work at scale, it's a few dozen, and we are hiring, so you can check out our careers page if you want to see some of the positions that we're looking for.
The last thing I want on this topic is actually, and this is based outside of the scope of Facebook, but the reason why Teach Access came to fruition was really from a shared challenge across the industry from companies like Google and Microsoft and Yahoo and Facebook who are all partners on Teach Access. The shared challenge of preparing our new employees to be successful on accessibility. We saw so many people coming in, even people coming in from great programs, who had very little awareness around accessibility. So if we are going to expect that, you know, all the things we build, both in sort of larger industry companies, but also just around the world, we get a lot of technologies are built by individuals, or very small teams, the only way that I think we are going to achieve the outcome that we want, which is is that everyone drive and owns accessibility, is if we're preparing people, you know, in their path into technology to be aware of accessibility and to know what to do. And that's really what Teach Access is about.
Right now, we're focused in the United States, and focused on computer science and design, to bachelor’s and for masters’ programs, but we're trying to make sure that accessibility is part of the curricula for those degree pathways so that people do graduate from these programs, and they do go off and work in technology, and they have a sense for what accessibility is and have a sense for what they can do to make it better, no matter where they are and no matter what they're building.
>> CORINNE: Thank you, Jeff. Wonderful answer, and, of course, as a reminder, we have an archives webinar on the PEAT website all about Teach Access, if you're interested in hearing more about that. But for now, a related question from Jessica and I think ties right in. Do you have any advice on convincing people on the importance of accessibility? I often get a lot of push back about ROI, return on investment.
>> JEFF: Yeah. That is a really good question, and it's something I've thought a lot about over the past seven years. Yes, I think there's a lot of ways to think about bringing people with you on accessibility, and I'll highlight two. The first is, I think it's really important to tell the human story of what accessibility is. You know, the concept of accessibility, for somebody that is not living and breathing it, may be somewhat abstract to them. And one thing that you can do to make it much clearer is to connect them with the people that benefit from the work that you might want to do in the space of accessibility. We've invested heavily in doing research with people with disabilities and people on the spectrum of ability, and from that research, we have created really awesome, and I think, very sort of empathy creating videos and artifacts from that work that I think really tell the point of what we're trying to do on accessibility. And we’ve done that by really closing the gap between the people that need to do the work for accessibility and the people that they serve through the work that they're doing on accessibility.
So, the more you can tell the human story and human impact of accessibility, rather than referring to it as a set of best practices or a set of features to build, start with the people. Start with the human impact that you will achieve through this work. And I think that this was something that we underinvested in, in the beginning, which was like talking about the impact on people, and we've done a better job over the past couple years. And now the conversations I'm having are not like, “Why are we doing this? or you know, it's more about, “What are we doing to this? What is the right way to do this?”
So, you know, even at a place that is, you know what the mission may not be directly aligned with accessibility, I still think it's about the human impact that you're trying to have, so to try to tell that story as much as you can. And it doesn't have to be like, you know, a huge research investment. I mean, it can be simpler than that. Have somebody come in who would benefit from the work that you're doing on accessibility and tell their story about their experience so far, and I promise you that people will light up from that experience, and that connection. The second thing I would say is – you know, go ahead, Monica.
>> MONICA: I was going to quickly echo what you said with an anecdotal example. Before I came to Facebook, I was a partner at a law firm where accessibility was one of the areas I counselled on, and ene of my clients with a manufacturer, and we went through, under, under the CVAA, there's a consultation requirement where we consulted as a client made changes to the product design with people with various types of disabilities and had them try out prototypes of the product, and I can tell you, at the beginning, the client was very much against, you know, having to go through with this requirement. They knew it was a requirement to go through the consultation process, that they wanted it to be a very minimal type of consultation, and we convinced them that, you know, that it was really, it would be really helpful, based on other clients who were going through the same types of process, to have a more robust consultation, so they flew people in from China, where the product was manufactured. They flew people in from different parts of the States, and we had a range of people with different types of, of differing ability, trying out these products, and the client was really amazed and touched by what they saw and what they saw the people who were trying to use the products for some of the things they were grappling with. And it really, especially with the engineers, it really flipped a switch to see that, and I can tell you that the products they ended up coming out with were better than what was required as a result of that experience. And I found that very interesting to just watch that, you know, that, that switch in their mind as they watched people struggle with their products. So, anyway, that was just an anecdotal aside to what Jeff was saying. And, Jeff, please continue.
>> JEFF: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the other thing I'd add to that, we've now generated a bunch of videos around our work in the space of disability and accessibility, really highlighting the ways that people are using Facebook. It’s sort of less about what we're doing and more about, you know, what people with disabilities and people on the spectrum of ability are doing with Facebook. And those are videos that we've shared, like Company All Hands and some of the largest forums that we have at Facebook. Getting that message out there, I think, has been really profound for people understanding what it is that we’re trying to solve for for accessibility. So, you can start small. You don’t have to, you know go to a Company All Hands, but I think that investing that space is really important. The other thing that I will say in this space that I think is really important is start by aligning with the people that, where accessibility is a thing that sort of naturally fits in well with their purview. And, so, look for the partners where you think the wheels are already greased a bit. And I’ll give you one of that that I mentioned earlier, is the Facebook design systems team, the team of sort of designers and engineers who are thinking about how do we help Facebook build a uniform high quality product across that thousands of people who are building things? They were a really natural partner for us on accessibility, because they want to build the highest quality application and experience possible, and they see how accessibility fits into that, and if we can partner with them on figuring out the best practices to manifest in their guidelines and their rules as it pertains to accessibility, we get this huge scale win where we don't even need to convince all the product teams to use the right colors or use the right contrast. We just need to work with this, you know, much smaller, I mean, basic design system teams, you know, very small, like a handful of people. Like, let's just convince them about accessibility, and if that works, then actually, we have made it such that all of the product teams are going to be pulling in better best practices for accessibility.
So, if you find those like natural synergies with people who are trying to advance similar things, in their case, sort of quality generally, and you that target things, where if you can solve it once there, you actually solve it for a lot of cases. It makes your ability to affect a lot of change much quicker. So, that's the, I think one of the general strategies that we've taken in this space of accessibility, sort of looking for those partners in the lifecycle of how we ship products, where, well, if we can just nail it here, we actually sort of just make it fundamental for everybody, and then it doesn't become this much harder challenge of like convincing a hounded different product teams to do this work. Let's make it just a part of our process let’s make it a part of our tooling so it just becomes automatic, because, again, at this point, it's not that people aren't bought into the vision of accessibility; it’s more that they just want to know how to do and how to do it effectively, and the best way is to partner with some of these central teams which have natural alignment.
>> CORINNE: Thanks, Jeff. Another question from Rachel. You mentioned several partnerships, primarily with organizations serving blind populations. What work have you done with organizations serving cognitive disabilities, particularly intellectual and developmental disabilities?
>> JEFF: Yeah. Good question. So, the main organization that we’ve interacted with the most in this space is the Coleman Institute, which is based out of Colorado. So, the Coleman Institute was actually a partner on Teach Access as well, and we've been working with them quite a bit on some of that work that we’ve been doing to embed accessibility in the student outcomes. So, right now, we've been basically just talking with them over the past year about some of the ways that we might think about better accessibility in the space of cognition. I don't have a lot to say about that partnership publicly yet, but I think it's been a really helpful thing for us as we try to understand what are the most important things that we can do for our consumer products to make them better in the space of cognition, and we have been doing some preliminary research in the space of literacy and dyslexia that, again, we haven't yet published, but if you stay tuned, by the end of the year, we should have some stuff that's publicly available that I'm excited about. So, I would say this is definitely an area that we're really excited about, and still trying to figure out what are the best things that we can do.
The other thing that I would flag, just generally for this audience, is that the area of cognition is one that is, I think, still forming from a, sort of standards and specifications standpoint. So, the W3C, for instance, has a task force, specifically focused on cognition, but they haven't really, I think, gotten to the point of the same level of certification we have with things like ARIA and, you know, the WCAG standard, for instance. So, I think it's, in general, an area of investment and research and exploration across the industry, and so, one of the things that we're doing is we're following along with the work that the W3C is doing there, so we can understand like what are the best things to do and, you know, make sure that we follow along with the recommendations. But that stuff is still very much, I think, in its forming stages, but I think it's an exciting investment for the W3C.
>> CORINNE: Definitely. We at PEAT definitely agree. Yeah, and so, I’ve seen a few questions about Workplace. Basically, could you go into greater detail about Workplace? Is it somewhere that patrons would visit, like a group or page, or is it something you've made across organizations and within one in workplace?
>> JEFF: Yeah. Monica, do you want to take a swing at that one?
>> MONICA: I don't know enough detail about that, Jeff. Would you feel comfortable answering that?
>> JEFF: Yeah, let’s see. Yeah. Yeah I can speak probably do this. So, I think the question is about, like, how does Workplace work as a product suite? Honestly, it works quite similar to the Facebook product, the consumer product, In the sense that you have concepts like an employee profile page, which has information around contact information and the projects that you work on, as well as any communications that you're sharing out related to that work. It's also very groups heavy, and I actually think the groups product was the product that really made the concept of Workplace something, something real. And so, for instance, even before we had Workplace, a lot of the product teams and cross- functional teams, so you know, everything from newsfeed to the accessibility team to employee resource groups to things related to benefits all had groups on Facebook. And, you know, you were a member of those groups as an employee, and, you know, different groups depending on your focus areas, and we used the groups product to handle a lot of our communication in organization.
And so, Workplace was really a formalization step, it sort of formalized like what should a business profile look like for an employee. What should a group look like for, you know, larger organizations or the set of groups that are important for a larger organization? But we really leave it up either Starbucks or whatever partner is on Workplace to define like what are the groups they need and what are the features they need? And now, we sort of respond to that by building out the things that we think will make communication organization better.
But it’s essentially, you know, repackaging of some of these tools we had before, but just taking a lens towards what's important for the professional environment. But yeah. That's sort of it in a nutshell. These are compartmentalized in the sense that the Workplace instance for Facebook is distinct from the Workplace incidence for Starbucks or the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Everyone has their own space, their own login. They can customize some of the work in the field. They can customize what are the groups that make sense for their organization, because every organization sort of sets up its hierarchy and groups differently but yeah, those are essentially the basic building blocks of Workplace.
>> CORINNE: Excellent. Thank you. So, I think we have time for just one or two more questions. So, here's one from Linda. What are the opportunities at Facebook for people with disabilities who would like to work there?
>> JEFF: Yeah. That's a good question too. So, Facebook is an equal opportunity employer. It is a company that believes strongly in diversity. And I think that that really comes from the, if you think, again, our mission, if you think about what we're trying to do, which is bring everybody in the world closer together, the best way that we can do that is by ensuring that the employee base that we have matches the diversity that is out there in the world. If we are truly building for a global audience and we are best positioned by making sure that our employee diversity matches that diversity, so the company actually has its own dedicated group, inside of HR, that is focused on diversity programs, everything from building employee resource groups. I know that we have one dedicated for disabilities, so people who either have disabilities or are interested in the space of disability or have family members with disabilities, that's a place for them to collaborate and talk about their experience as employees with disabilities. We have our own accommodations programs, so if you are an employee that needs an accommodation of some kind, in order to have, to be more set up for success at Facebook, there's a formal program for that.
I know that they also focus specifically on diversity of recruiting, so finding the right ways to find diverse candidates, and obviously that's bigger than disabilities, but disability is one of the key dimensions that they’re thinking about, and so they work with a lot of staffing agencies who represent people with disabilities to make sure that we are getting enough people into the pipeline and looking at all the right places to make sure that we're hiring the best people that we can and hiring the most diverse employee base that we can. So, Monica and I don't work in that space, so, that’s actually managed by a different team, but I actually overlap with them quite a bit, and so, yeah, that's the reason why I'm aware of some of the work that they're doing now.
>> Great. Thank you. So we are wrapping up now, and because we got several questions in both areas, I'm wondering if we could close just with you letting people know where they can go first to learn more about best practices for implementing accessibility from the perspective of a Facebook admin and, second, how people should communicate with Facebook when they notice accessibility issues?
>> JEFF: Yeah. Absolutely. I can take this one. So, in terms of getting contact with us, the best way to do it is either through Facebook.com/accessibility or through Facebook.com/help/accessibility. So, both of those places will have an opportunity to send us a message that we'll then see and make sure we route to the right place and turn to Facebook for sort of triage and resolution. In terms of the admin question, again, I think the best place to go is Facebook.com/help/accessibility for best practices with the product. But,. otherwise, I don't think we have a stand-alone page for that use case in particular, but something we should think about for the future.
>> CORINNE: Great. Well, thanks so much to you both for joining us today and to all the participants that took the time to join us. We hope that you enjoy the rest of your afternoon. And as a reminder, this talk will be archived to the PEAT website, both the video and the transcript in about one to two weeks. So, thanks so much.
>> Thanks all.
>> Appreciate you having us again, PEAT.
>> We always love to have you, any time. Thank you.