Meet Scott Vinkle—man of action, and the most recent addition to Simply Accessible’s assessment and development team.
Scott, the newest member of Simply Accessible’s dev and assessment team, uses his powers for good in a way that’s both inspiring and instructive. The Silent Mountain—he’s the tallest member of our team by far—takes everything that’s awesome about being a developer and throws it into making the web work better for everyone.
A man of action
Scott’s natural curiosity and hands-on learning style struck us all during our team retreat in February, just after he joined our team. We were sitting around debating how an error alert might interface with set of Philips Hue lightbulbs. (Yes, we chat about that kind of thing often.) We talked through various approaches, brainstorming different ways to tackle the problem. Fifteen minutes in, Scott pipes up in his quiet baritone, directing our attention to a large shared screen. He had worked up a demo, which he then refined over the rest of our retreat.
While the rest of us talked, Scott built.
It’s that brand of roll-up-your-sleeves curiosity that led to Scott’s accessibility awakening a few years into his career as a front-end developer. He installed a screen reader browser extension, not sure what to expect. Then, he heard it: a voice reading aloud the page he’d been working on for weeks. It was a revelation.
“Immediately, I had tons of questions: Is this is how some people experience the web? Is the code I’m writing correct for these other interfaces? Have I been doing it wrong for all these years? I felt compelled to learn everything I could, and I had to learn fast.”
Already well versed in responsive design, he realized that he had a responsibility to learn how to make sites usable for users with different kinds of abilities. Fueled by the fear that people were unable to use the things he’d made, he threw himself into the challenge.
He pushed for accessibility and responsive design within his company, but they ignored him. Galvanized to learn more, Scott educated himself under the radar and did his own testing.
More doer than talker, Scott didn’t make a big deal out of his shift to accessible developer. “It’s the right thing to do anyway. I’m not going to ask permission,” he shrugs. It also made for some pretty late nights. “They’d give me a deadline and I’d do everything I could to make the interface the best it could be. If it meant long hours, so be it.”
That’s Vinkle’s style in a nutshell.
First, you build it. Then, you share it.
Since then, he’s been leading by example, contributing CodePen links to the a11yproject.com patterns page and the broader online community of developers. He also co-organizes the CodePen Ottawa monthly meetup.
“Bringing knowledge back to the community is important so people know how to implement things properly. I’ve benefited from it, too—the front-end community is so willing to share how to implement new techniques. Contributing to the body of accessibility knowledge is my way of giving back to the community I’ve learned from over the years.”
His role at Simply Accessible is a critical one. In addition to the development work he does, Scott’s also part of our assessment team, which thoroughly tests our clients sites for accessibility issues. But here at SA, assessment isn’t just assessment. It’s an opportunity for growth and education. “We bring our clients awareness about issues that impact people’s daily lives. Users often depend on these websites—we help our clients see where people have difficulty or where the sites are impossible for someone to use. On the flip side, we show them how potentially easy these issues are to fix and we help them get there.”
We’re thrilled to have Scott’s passion-in-action approach on our team, benefitting all of our clients, and all of us.
“It’s not really accessibility that we need to keep in mind, but people. People are why we do this. If they can’t use what we create, why create at all?”
Look forward to more of Scott’s hands-on wisdom on our blog in the coming months!