Our team grew in 2012 and we added an ace to our team. Introducing our newest team member: Elle Waters.

Photo: Elle Waters, in her steampunk goggles with purply hair

As Simply Accessible grows, we discover like-minded people out there on the Wild Web. What starts as a friendship sometimes blossoms into the type of partnership we all have here at the company: a sense of being a comrade-in-arms pursuing a vital mission to change the world, one user’s needs at a time.

And, so it was with Elle Waters. Active on the web since 1995, she has an extraordinary and unique background in accessibility program management, strategic planning, cross-functional team management, working for and with Fortune 100 companies, and even, she claims, “marketing bingo mastery.” (We’re afraid to ask what that means precisely, but it sounds awesome. So does her time served in Army counter-intelligence, and I’m not kidding. Believe me, I’m also not asking.)

She knows people inside-out. Yes, Linguistic Anthropology was a focus during college—along with majors in Rhetoric and New Media—but her years of evangelism and leading projects within virtual worlds, online communities, and social media channels were one ginormous lesson in how people think, behave, react, (and even dream of better lives).

She segued straight into a career as the web accessibility coordinator at a large Fortune 100 company—one of the giants—using her leadership skills and insights about people to work on the very dull-sounding but critically important “implementation strategies for design, development, and process teams across the enterprise.”

This is where companies grow with the times or begin their slow, sad death spiral, and she wanted to be at the heart of it. Working with teams to build a corporate program from the ground up, Elle built the business case and established accessibility as an integral part of both the design strategy and the software development lifecycle, institutionalizing the process and creating a framework for long-term success.

What’s she doing at Simply Accessible? Elle joined us to support our enterprise strategy and business development needs, as we deliver insightful and creative accessibility/UX design consulting to Fortune 500 corporations, educational institutions, public utilities, government agencies, and other private sector clients.

From the business end, what’s the point? She’s uber-practical, like the rest of us. We’re not here to drag you through governmental mandates, we’re here to make things better. She’s going to work directly with you to roadmap a plan to help you meet or exceed accessibility requirements and, while doing that, achieve so much more. Along with the Simply Accessible team, she’ll establish a program that is sustainable, that makes sense to everyone, that helps you succeed.

As Elle describes it:

I want to use technology to make life a little more human. Working on accessibility actually drives innovation in design, acting as a catalyst for amazing discoveries in user experience that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Accessibility can standardize a company’s processes, including procurement, consumer experience, design, development, and testing. Where accessibility is placed first, a company wins in several areas across the organization. And, above all, I believe equal access is a civil right.

So, what’s with the goggles? Well, sometimes we beg her to wear them because she’s cooking up something so hot we’d hate to see her hurt herself. But, truth be told, Elle’s goggles symbolize her love for looking at things differently, for producing the unexpected, and then, joining the rest of the team, generating the transformative power that enables us to do things for companies that no one else has done before. She Gets. Things. Done. This isn’t just hot air we’re blowing here. Give us a ring and we’ll give you a peek at how real and vital our work is and how we can help your organization.

But ask Elle about the goggles and she’ll look up from her studies of zombie lore, video gaming, and virtual worlds, and say with a smile: “Goggles are cool. You know, like bow ties.”

Want to hear a lively, smart, and entertaining expert speak at your conference or company? Contact us to engage Elle or to learn what the team and I can do for you.

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