We’re so excited to introduce the freshest faces of our Simply Accessible crew: Devon Persing and Nicolas Steenhout, two big-hearted accessibility leaders, consultants, and trainers. We’re pumped to welcome them and unleash their powers to transform the web.
Our two new accessibility consultants make the web a better place in their own unique (and totally badass) ways. But, they’re similar where it counts: core values of inclusion and empowering others to make the digital world work for all of us.
Nic “Yes, Chef” Steenhout
Nicolas (Nic to most of us), has been on the front lines of inclusivity since 1995, working passionately for disability rights as an activist and advocate in the USA, Canada, and New Zealand (where he lived for eleven years).
Based now in Montreal, his early interest in web accessibility came from the frustration of a blind friend. “There was all this new tech to put images on websites, but none of it worked for him,” Nic says. It sparked one of his most inspiring personality traits: if it’s broke, Nic’s dang well gonna fix it.
He’s a natural leader. Throughout his career he’s gravitated towards the big desk, running disability support and advocacy nonprofits in Montreal, Chicago, Savannah, and New Zealand. “I like the idea of leaving the world a better place after I’ve gone through it,” he says. That idea has manifested in a bunch of ways from accessibility consulting to grassroots advocacy to civil disobedience.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that accessibility is not a tick-box on a checklist. Checking the box misses the point of inclusion.” – Nicolas Steenhout
Nic is the real deal. He’s willing to lay himself on the line to create positive change in the world and on the web. He speaks and writes regularly about inclusion and recently launched a killer Wheelchair Cam blog project: a first-person chronicle of his good, bad, and ugly experiences as a wheelchair user at large. We’re lucky to have his bold intelligence on our team.
Devon “Parsnip” Persing
Devon, who hails from Pennsylvania but lives in Seattle, comes to web accessibility from a Masters in Information Science–that’s librarian school, y’all–and fifteen years of experience writing front-end code. She sees the digital world from a DNA-level where accessibility, user experience, information architecture, and development are the same gig.
“Everything I’ve done professionally has revolved around helping people find the information they need, and teaching them to find it themselves. Library science, UX, accessibility—in my mind, it’s all interrelated.” – Devon Persing
In every role she’s taken on–from working at libraries since she was in high school to consulting with major corporations–teaching has been part of her secret or not-so-secret mission. “Consulting is secret teaching,” she says. Her last major project was working with a large company to develop an internal accessibility department.
She also teaches night classes demystifying front-end coding at the School of Visual Concepts. As a Feminist On The Internet, Devon mentors junior developers and analysts who also happen to be female, and she guest lectures at Ada Developers Academy (a badass software development program for women).
“For developers, a lot of accessibility is just coding best practice. If people learn that up front, there’s less mystery and relearning later.” – Devon Persing
Beyond empowering most people she comes across, Devon has a rare talent for making accessibility accessible, a critical aspect of Simply Accessible’s mission. But don’t let her humility fool you. She’s like a multitalented accessibility Swiss Army knife with purple hair.
Brought on board as Accessibility Consultants, Nic and Devon help with testing, teaching, and training. They’ll empower our client teams to create universally usable sites and apps—and to understand the importance of creating a digital world that welcomes everyone. For now, help us welcome these accessibility firecrackers!