Jan 25, 2022 6:40:44 PM
The accessibility community contains many leaders passionate about making the world a more inclusive place for everyone. We launched "Accessibility in the Enterprise" to share stories and highlight the work of accessibility leaders at large organizations.
In this edition, we talk to accessibility experts behind McDonald's Golden Arches. We interviewed Kelsey Hall, Senior Digital Accessibility Manager and Melissa Renae, Digital Accessibility Manager for Web, both with the Office of Global Digital Accessibility Excellence.
Diamond: Thank you for joining us! Please tell us about McDonald's Corporate.
Melissa Renae: Behind our Golden Arches is a global community of crew, farmers, suppliers, franchisees, and countless others who make up who we are as a brand. It's the entire McFamily that makes McDonald's what it is today.
What began as a small drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California has grown into an American icon that proudly serves approximately 63 million customers every day around the globe. While much has changed over the last six decades, our commitment to quality, service, cleanliness, and value has endured and made McDonald's a trusted favorite for over 65 years.
Over the years, McDonald's has continued to grow and expand into international markets beginning in 1967 opening in Canada and Puerto Rico. Today, the company has over 36,000 restaurants in over 100 nations. .
At McDonald's, when we say, "billions served," we're not just talking about burgers. We're talking about serving our communities. As we look to the future, we believe we can have an even greater impact by focusing on four areas that matter most:
- Food quality and sourcing
- Our planet
- Community connection
- Jobs, inclusion, and empowerment
The backbone of our brand is — and always has been — a commitment to a set of core values that define who we are and how we run our business and restaurants. When we live our values every day and use them to make decisions — big and small — we define McDonald's as a brand our people and the people we serve can trust.
Our values are the filter through which all business decisions are made because actions are bigger than words:
- Serve: we put our customers and people first
- Inclusion: We open our doors to everyone
- Integrity: we do the right thing
- Community: we are good neighbors
- Family: we get better together
Diamond: What can you tell us about the McDonald's Global Digital Accessibility team?
Melissa Renae: The Digital Accessibility Team is a core group of people with disabilities with over 50+ collective years of professional disability inclusion and accessibility experience. We strive to improve the usability and accessibility of our domestic restaurant website and mobile application for all users, including those with disabilities.
Our diligent efforts to improve digital usability and accessibility are guided by the relevant portions of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and other industry-leading existing recommendations. From a technical standpoint, our efforts are ongoing and are tested on a periodic basis using various forms of assistive technology. Our testers include individuals with disabilities who are native users of assistive technology.
Scaling Digital Accessibility in the Enterprise
Diamond: How do you scale disability awareness, inclusion, and understanding throughout an organization the size of McDonald's?
Kelsey Hall: Our channels for supporting our accessibility and inclusion practices include:
- Educating and building awareness through an internally built and maintained learning and development platform.
- Engaging in Disability Celebratory Days, such as Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and World Usability Day (WUD).
- Inviting disability diverse guest speakers to teach, provide perspective, and encourage growth.
- Empowering our new Employee Business Network, the Disability Inclusion Group (DIG), to guide, teach, and create disability inclusive spaces for our corporate employees.
- Leveraging our company mission and core values to use our scale for good by collaboration with other companies to build a more disability inclusive world.
We are consistently optimizing our programming to build more opportunities for learning and "leading while learning." One way our team scales knowledge is through both in-person and pre-recorded training. When we teach a group of people how to build an accessible document or write an accessible email, they have the power to teach others to do the same!
Diamond: What challenges or opportunities exist for large companies in the digital accessibility space?
Kelsey Hall: The challenge for many is to marry the well-known standards that exist with the best user experience. Accounting for the variability of end-users — with and without disabilities — is a challenge for any industry that has digital products. There are many avenues to understand better — age, gender, culture, etc. Disability is an additional context to understand and provide solutions that meet standards while also creating feel-good moments.
Helping people understand what "disability" means is important to understanding the path forward — how is disability conceptualized? What more are people seeking to understand? Encouraging people to recognize their own biases and how to work through those is a good start to dismantling barriers to inclusion.
We know race and gender is a space where these conversations are happening and it's important to talk about how disability is a part of that broader conversation, too, especially because many people don't have a singular identity!
Problem Solving and Innovating in Enterprise Digital Accessibility
Diamond: What are some strategies you implement to problem-solve for digital accessibility?
Kelsey Hall: It's an interesting time to be in digital accessibility. What we love about our team is the deep ties we have to user research and user experience. There's a deep connection between user experience and accessibility and we're always working hard to understand the best interaction points for the widest array of people.
That work encompasses the entirety of the product lifecycle, so we also get to collaborate with a bunch of amazing people who are experts in what they do – design, development, quality, etc. We are learners just as much as we are teachers and that's what makes the work, we do exciting and important! Some of the ways we problem-solve are by:
- Engaging in user research and native assistive technology user testing.
- Consistently identifying opportunities for awareness building and education.
- Using our scale for good to encourage others to follow suit.
- Staying open-minded about how people interact with digital spaces — recognizing interaction changes as technology changes. Collaboration with innovation top of mind is important!
Diamond: What unique solutions exist in digital accessibility do you find innovative or enticing?
Melissa Renae: One is how extended-reality (XR), an umbrella term for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), is being discussed more and more in the accessibility world — how it can be used for good, what to watch out for when it comes to digital accessibility — how to ensure due diligence across all under-represented populations.
The other are we hope to find more research on is how kids interact with digital environments to better support kids with disabilities who use assistive technology, too! We find the field is dominated by a focus on adults – there's a lot of work to be done in understanding how children in the disability community make use of technology and how that can inform accessibility guidelines, best practice, and more.
Tying Inclusion in with Digital Accessibility
Diamond: As mentioned previously, McDonald's refreshed their core values, one of which is "inclusion." How does digital accessibility fit into that?
Melissa Renae: McDonald's serves *everyone*. Inclusion means *everyone*. So "everyone" includes our disabled customer base. We continue to build awareness and education about the breadth and depth of the disability experience, which society often thinks about as "physical".
We're building bridges to understand the parallel to physical and digital inclusion and accessibility. Technology changes at a rapid pace and we're always working to consider innovations and how those innovations can be inclusive of diversity – there is so much opportunity.
Diamond: We know many companies have been and are becoming quite vocal about using their scale to support other companies to join the accessibility journey, particularly through procurement. How does McDonald's fit into this space?
Kelsey Hall: We reference our values of inclusion and integrity often because we believe they are core to the work we do. We're grateful for supportive leadership that allows us the space and time to ask the hard questions, dive into how we can use technology to drive innovation in this space, and to help bring others along for the journey.
Our team always says, “accessibility and disability inclusion is a group project." No one can do this alone! We encourage “leading while learning," which is an excellent way to empower our employees with disabilities and allies.
Diamond: Thank you both for your time today and for sharing your impressive accessibility and inclusion background.
Accessibility in the Enterprise is a content series from Diamond that highlights the work of Accessibility leaders at large organizations. To stay up to date with this content series, follow us on Twitter at @DWSLA.