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Ignoring Blind Candidates

By ignoring web accessibility, you're closing the door on millions of would-be applicants to your job openings. Companies both big and small drop the ball. That's why we invited Matt Stubbs, a leader in web accessibility, on the podcast to both educate and scare the hell out of listeners to get their accessibility house in order.

Looking at you, JP Morgan, and around 90% of the rest of you.

INTRO (16s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (21s):

Oh yeah, our intro guys drunk today. What's up everybody? You're listening to the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your co-host Joel Cheeseman joined as always by Chad Sowash. And today we are really, really privileged and like Matt Stubbs to the show, Matt is a leader in web accessibility. So we're going to do some learning today. Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt (45s):

Thanks for having me.

Chad (47s):

Excellent. Matt, give us a little background about you. Who is Stubbs-y? Who is the Stubbs-y?

Matt (50s):

Stubbs-y is the disruptive change agent that's here to revolutionize accessibility.

Chad (1m 2s):

Oh, damn damn. Do you have like a PR department? That's good. So tell us a little bit about you. You are an individual with a disability. Go ahead, give us a background about you because we're going to dig into some pretty important shit today.

Matt (1m 17s):

Yeah. So I've got, I have a disability I'm blind. I've worked in organizational development and learning. I have a real passion for accessibility. I've participated in running a starter where I was passed for the leadership team that won an award for true grit and determination.

Chad (1m 37s):


Joel (1m 38s):

Or have you been blind your whole life?

Matt (1m 40s):

Yes. I've been blind from birth.

Joel (1m 41s):

Okay. So, so Stubbs-y, before I asked my first question, what's going to get me canceled? What can I say and not say, and I think I'm speaking for a few people when they say like, what is off limits in terms of talking about the visually impaired? Can I say blind, for example?

Matt (1m 58s):

For me, nothing's off limits as long as it's done with respect and compassion and done to educate.

Joel (2m 9s):

Got it. So it's a pretty wide field in terms of what's going to get me in trouble. So I think I'm okay. Well, let's set the table here for our listeners.

Chad (2m 17s):


Joel (2m 18s):

With the numbers. How many visually impaired people around the world, or in the US or Europe? Like what are the numbers around this?

Matt (2m 27s):

The numbers are, it's very hard to quantify some of the numbers because sight loss is such a spectrum. It's very hard to calculate where you, for example, we estimate in the UK that there is 2 million people who are registered blind, but that could be up as high as 4 million.

Chad (2m 44s):

Now that's just because they haven't identified themselves. What about a guy like Joel, who's blind as a bat without his glasses, right? I mean, is that technically visually impaired? Does he fit in the spectrum at all?

Matt (2m 59s):

You could argue yes. You mean by a medical definition? Probably not.

Joel (3m 7s):

I have never considered myself blind, although Chad probably does think I'm blind.

Chad (3m 16s):

Yeah, it was. Okay. So quick story. We're sitting in the hot tub about two weeks ago in Phoenix and Joel gives me his phone and he said that he doesn't have his glasses on. And he says, what does this say?

Joel (3m 31s):

I can't deny that story. That is true. But it's true from close-up it's hard for me to say, I'll give you that.

Matt (3m 39s):

Yeah. Yeah. But what was that? His glasses or was that the beer?

Chad (3m 43s):

It could have been a little bit of both.

Joel (3m 45s):

It was me. It was all me. So a little bit of context around the numbers. Do you have any numbers around websites and companies that provide, you know, digital services that aren't accessible? Cause I'm imagining that's a pretty high number.

Matt (4m 1s):

Yeah. There's a recent one done again here in the UK, looking at government websites where they found that 99% had some accessibility issue.

Joel (4m 11s):

Can you say that again?

Chad (4m 12s):


Matt (4m 13s):

Yes. 99%.

Chad (4m 17s):

Meaning just about every fucking website has an accommodation issue?

Joel (4m 22s):

A missed opportunity I would say.

Chad (4m 25s):

Jesus! Okay. So I mean, this is much bigger than I would have thought because when we take a look at our space, right, our little space it's growing rapidly, there's a lot of money that's going into it. But for the most part, most of these products and these new features and so on and so forth, they don't go through rigid evaluation or accessibility testing, if they do at all. Right. So I've heard, and I know that you've been going through a job search here in the last few weeks or so. I've heard that it's been a bitch. Tell us about that.

Matt (5m 1s):

Yeah, definitely. I would say probably anywhere between 25 and 30% of all jobs that I've applied for are inaccessible, the application process. I'll give you an absolute Corker of one. I applied for a job with a well-known global bank. This role was accessibility specialist.

Chad (5m 27s):

Who no fucking way. Geez, go ahead. I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Matt (5m 34s):

Completely inaccessible to apply for it.

SFX (5m 36s):

Doesn't anyone notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Chad (5m 41s):

So what we are doing, and this is one of the reasons why, you know, I thought we should have this discussion is because we are leaving incredibly well-educated and great talent behind because they can't even access the jobs that you're trying to get in front of them. So I guess the big question is when you are looking day to day, you said 30% of jobs, you can't even access, are you seeing certain systems that are actually better than others? Are they all just pretty fucked at this point?

Matt (6m 15s):

Oh, we all know recruitment is pretty shit to start with business. Let's be honest. We all know that, but I would say definitely there are in some way or another, there is either an accessibility or usability issue around applying if you're blind, like me and you need to use a screen reader.

Chad (6m 37s):

Okay. Okay.

Joel (6m 37s):

I have some core competency around this from 20 years ago.

Matt (6m 44s):

Talk about back in the day.

Joel (6m 45s):

I might predate you Stubbsy. I remember the Bobby system where you would like plugin websites and they give you a score and do that. I assume that we've advanced from that. So what tools are there that people can use? What do you recommend? Should everyone put in a job description into sites to see if they're accessible? Like what kind of tips would you give on current day tools to help people be accessible with their web presence?

Matt (7m 11s):

I think it goes back to 101, basically that to follow web accessibility guidelines around coding and the tech stack from start.

Joel (7m 25s):

I mean, is there a checklist, like, Hey, make sure like all the images have alt tags, make sure?

Matt (7m 33s):

Guidelines called WAGC two point one of the most recent guidelines that web accessibility is meant to adhere to.

Joel (7m 44s):

Is That was one site that I found. Is that a reputable site?

Matt (7m 49s):

It's okay.

Joel (7m 50s):

Is there one better?

Matt (7m 52s):

There isn't I would say there are two out there. That is better.

Joel (7m 55s):

That's a fail.

Matt (7m 55s):

I think they all have limitations. And we're seeing, I would say shortcuts being tried by some organizations with our favorite thing, AI.

Chad (8m 8s):

So here's the thing. Joel is looking for a silver bullet, which I appreciate because that's exactly what talent acquisition does. And that's exactly what a vendor's going to do, is they're going to look for a silver bullet, a shortcut, some something, right. And there's nothing that is out there right now because of the rapid pace of development and how all of these systems are a quote unquote "bespoke," right? They're customized out of accessibility in some cases where the base model is tested and evaluated as good to go, right? But then they start making these changes, these customizations, et cetera, et cetera. And then it blows the whole thing to shit.

Chad (8m 49s):

So what I'm hearing and tell me if I'm wrong Stubbsy is that there is really no silver bullet. You need to have a person evaluate this. I'm sure there's some software that you can use as well to aid. Although it sounds like this has to be something that I don't know, maybe core talent platforms actually offer.

Matt (9m 9s):

I think it'd be a unique selling point if they offered it.

Chad (9m 14s):

So if they offered it, if they offered something like this, this would be more focused on being able to first and foremost, you're building out new products and features. You have to have a battery of tests to ensure that it works first and foremost, which pretty much every company does. The problem is they don't have that accessibility test blended into it. So as you're going through six Sigma or whatever the hell is your process, you add this as a layer in, and you have either an expert, which is a 1099, or if you're big enough, if you're an iCIMS or you're an SAP, are you one of these big fucking systems you should have at least that person dedicated or a team dedicated to this, right?

Matt (9m 59s):

Yeah, definitely. I mean, what goes back to is this. I think if we're going to move this landscape forward, I think it should be compulsory that people who learn coding and programming, one of their modules is around accessibility. And it's from the start. We build it from the start and not just have people test, but also have people on the inside of the loop of the development pathway. Cause that is one of the other issues is that we have people will be approached and said, oh, what do you need at the beginning and here's the end product.

Chad (10m 35s):

And for all you Americans out there compulsory means mandatory.

Joel (10m 39s):

This was the guy who said excess instead of access. Access is your sex life and so on. That's a different topic altogether.

Chad (10m 47s):

That's what I was thinking about. Let's talk about your application process first. I mean, it seems as if, when you're going through these different companies, that could be the same systems, you know, you could be using the same core talent platform per se, but some of them have different barriers or obstacles because of customization. Is that what you are finding or do you even know what systems that you're looking at? And you just know that the process sucks?

Matt (11m 11s):

You don't always know what the system is. Do you?

Chad (11m 14s):


Matt (11m 14s):

It could be any of the big ones or the smaller ones, but I think one of the other challenges I think around it is the attitude around that HR tech companies have. I know some of those in the room with a whole pile of HR tech companies here in the UK and brought this subject up and their response was, it's not on our current roadmap. As people with disabilities, you'll just have to be patient until we get around to it.

Chad (11m 45s):

Wait a minute. So they said that this is not on our current roadmap, so therefore, sorry, Stubbsy. You're fucked until we believe that you're worth actually putting something in place. So how dehumanizing is that shit?

Matt (12m 3s):

It's extremely disheartening. I mean cause you sit there and they go back to the example I gave before about the accessibility specialist role. You mean? Yeah. What a slap in the face. You mean? Can you get more of a insults? Yeah. We want to make our product accessible, but you can't apply for it.

Chad (12m 18s):

Yep. Name, names, Stubbsy. Who's the bank. I want to know.

Joel (12m 20s):

He's too polite. He's not going to do it.

Matt (12m 26s):

I'll say it. JP Morgan Chase.

Chad (12m 28s):

JP Morgan Chase. Okay. You're you're in the fucking crosshairs, JP Morgan Chase, Jesus Christ.

Joel (12m 37s):

Stubbsy I mentioned I have some experience 20 years ago, which predates the iPhone and mobile. And just out of curiosity, like I kind of understand if you scroll your mouse over, you see, you know, like words, you hear words and things like that. How do you manage or maneuver around a mobile device? Because I think that's something companies don't even think about in terms of accessibility.

Matt (12m 60s):

Basically lots of mobile devices nowadays have what's called a screen reader, which reads what's on the screen. So as you drag your finger around the screen, it reads that out loud.

Joel (13m 8s):

That's pretty cool. And is that like, do you have a special phone or is that an iPhone?

Matt (13m 13s):

IPhones have it built in, so do Android, it's pretty standard nowadays.

Joel (13m 20s):

Very cool. So video resumes are gaining some popularity, obviously video interviewing and things like that. Is that cause for concern for your community, is it something that you are excited about? Because video is easier, like talk about the video component, that's gaining steam.

Matt (13m 38s):

Again, there are different inherent problems there. You mean? How do you know it? Like, let me, how do I know I'm looking into the camera properly or anything like that, to check how my presentation is? Because you know, when you look at a video resume, I mean, it's natural to be looking at the body language.

Joel (13m 58s):

So it's a net negative.

Matt (14m 1s):

I think it's from my personal perspective.

Joel (14m 3s):


Chad (14m 4s):

So what about assessments? Cause there are a ton of visual assessments that are out there today. And when you have an assessment predicated on being visual, you're kind of leaving out a good group of people. Am I right? Or do they have systems that are fairly accessible that you can use? And it's worthwhile.

Matt (14m 27s):

Honestly, in my experience, I've not come across one that is truly accessible. And if I think I would say they're more of a hindrance, because they don't make the playing field fair, whichever way round you cut it, it doesn't make the field failure. I mean, you can get accommodation.

Chad (14m 47s):


Matt (14m 47s):

You can try. Let me rephrase that, whether you get it is questionable, whether you'll get a response, if you email them, say, look, I can't do this. And I've been in that situation. I've emailed, saying, I can't do this personality test and explained it and basically been ghosted.

Joel (15m 4s):

Curious Stubbsy about, so let's go from mobile to SEO or search engine optimization. And we know that certain sites, if their speed is faster than most sites, that their rankings tend to be better. And we know if sites are sort of user-friendly, they're better. Do you have any experience or insight into sites being more accessible than others? Getting better rankings on search and because search is largely customized, do you find that because of your disability, most of the sites at the top of the rankings for you tend to be accessible and the ones on page three plus tend to be less accessible?

Matt (15m 43s):

No. I don't think there is a difference in my experience.

Joel (15m 48s):

So Google plays no favorites in terms of accessible websites?

Matt (15m 52s):

No it doesn't come into it.

Joel (15m 52s):

Interesting. Do you think it should?

Matt (15m 55s):

Again, I think that's a very subjective criteria to place and how do you code for that? That's going to become a quite complex coding.

Joel (16m 5s):

It's typically an accessible site has a cleaner code wouldn't you say? They take a little bit more care. Anyway, I know you're not a developer, so we'll, we'll move on to really the topic I wanted to get to, which is the metaverse. So the metaverse is obviously super hot. Does the metaverse scared the shit out of you as a visually impaired person? Is that exciting to you? Like just give me your thoughts on the metaverse it doesn't even have to be in terms of looking for a job.

Matt (16m 33s):

It's like any tool. I think it has potential to be useful, whether it will be? Time will tell and I do have my doubts because I think you can't take away from the personal aspect and I think it's a long way from being on that personal aspect. That interaction where you can read body language properly because body language, when you read it, isn't just visual. There is this kinesthetic aspect as well. I think you'd lose that in the metaverse because it's so artificial.

Chad (17m 9s):

It's so artificial Joel, did you hear that?

Joel (17m 12s):

Do you play video games?

Matt (17m 15s):


Joel (17m 16s):

I have so many questions. Most of them are really stupid questions, so I will, I will stop.

Chad (17m 20s):

And this is a good, this is a good 101 for us and our listeners. But I mean, just to understand that, you know, again, JP Morgan Chase has a job for somebody with your background, for accessibility and the job isn't even accessible to be able to apply. I think screams, it screams just how bad it is, that a big brand.

Joel (17m 45s):

And this isn't some startup. It's a huge company.

Chad (17m 48s):


Matt (17m 49s):

You've got to go back to the fundamentals here that it's about attitude and behavior and how they see the world.

Chad (17m 57s):

It's about giving a shit is what it is.

Matt (17m 59s):

It is giving the shit, but yeah, we know, again a recent survey looked at, I think is about 2000 employers here in the UK 23% actively said they wouldn't employ someone who was blind, even though they knew would break the equality act.

SFX (18m 23s):

Doesn't anyone notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

Chad (18m 24s):

All I got to say, Stubbsy is first and foremost, you're looking for a gig. There are so many tech platforms that are out there in our space and this is something we are not evaluating for. This is not a part of the actual mix of go to market evaluation for most of these organizations, not to mention any smart organization that's out there, tech organization, doesn't just look at their own shit, but they also do consulting for their clients. This is a revenue opportunity people because...

Joel (18m 59s):


Chad (18m 59s):

Shit's fucked up. We're talking about 99% of websites. So if you're out there and you are one of those really cool unicorns with a lot of money or just a startup who gives a shit and that's the key giving a shit, you need to be looking for guys like Stubbsy. Ah Stubbsy that being said, I know you didn't think that we were going to put you up on a block here and try to get you a job. But if somebody does want to get ahold of you and just have a conversation or maybe even help you apply for their accessibility job, where can they find you?

Matt (19m 38s):

They can find me on LinkedIn.

Chad (19m 40s):

LinkedIn and that's Matt Stubs.

Joel (19m 41s):


Chad (19m 42s):

In London.

Joel (19m 42s):

This was awesome. Thank you, Matt.

Matt (19m 45s):

No worries. Excellent.

Joel (19m 47s):

Other one in the can Chad.

Matt, Joel, and Chad (19m 51s):

We out.

OUTRO (19m 49s):

Thank you for listening to, what's it called? The podcast with Chad, the Cheese. Brilliant. They talk about recruiting. They talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Just a lot of Shout Outs of people, you don't even know and yet you're listening. It's incredible. And not one word about cheese, not one cheddar, blue, nacho, pepper jack, Swiss. So many cheeses and not one word. So weird. Any hoo be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts, that way you won't miss an episode.

OUTRO (20m 36s):

And while you're at it, visit just don't expect to find any recipes for grilled cheese. Is so weird. We out.


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