Purple Light Up 2020

It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was writing a blog post for Purple Light Up in early December 2019 and yet in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago.

The world we live and work in has changed significantly due to Covid-19. We have seen a rapid shift to remote working and 2020 will be remembered as the year of videoconferencing fatigue. Many people in the disability community have pointed out that Covid-19 proved what disabled people have been asking for: flexible working is indeed possible and there will be no excuses for a return to old ways of working.

At the same time rapid experimentation has led to the introduction of new barriers as people experiment with tech that is immature and sometimes not very accessible. As technologists we need to always keep inclusion in mind when we are choosing which software, service or platform we are using. Many tools are imperfect and yet this is also an opportunity for us to engage and help create a new and more accessible ecosystem where people can participate on an equal footing and we have been working with partners to help them embed accessibility into their products.

2020 was also the year that we held our first Accessibility Hackathon, of course with it being 2020 it was virtual and run over several weeks. I was extremely pleased with the high levels of engagement we had: over 20 teams with nearly one hundred people participating from every part of our organization and from many different countries. Not only did we receive lots of great ideas, but the hackathon has served to kickstart a community of people that are interested in accessibility outside of the core team within Atos. As a result of this we expanded our regular accessibility roundtable event so that it is open to anyone who is interested to find out more. So far we have had guests from Microsoft, AbilityNet, Google, CityMaaS and Funka accessibility consultants come and talk to employees.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day this year was also online, and we welcomed friends and partners for an all-day marathon webinar which followed the sun from India through to the west coast of America. We had participants from Barrierbreak, Twitter, Microsoft, Barclays, Business Disability Forum, Site-Improve and cross over sessions with the hackathon.

Despite the challenges that this year has presented I feel pleased that our community has grown and strengthened and that we are in a good position going into 2021.

Take today to celebrate the skills and unique perspectives of our disabled colleagues, partners and customers and the contribution that disability and accessibility tools are playing to deliver the tech that has enabled people to cope with the changes Covid-19 has brought.

By Neil Miliken, Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion
Posted on
December 3


Ethics & Digital Society
Well Being @ Work
Atos Diversity & Inclusion

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About Neil Milliken
Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion and member of the Scientific Community
Neil Milliken is VP - Global Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusionat Atos, member of the Atos Scientific Community & Atos Distinguished Expert. Neil is a leading strategist and community builder with over two decades of experience within the Accessibility and Assistive Technology fields and served as invited expert for the W3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce Neil is a member of the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability, Non Exec Chair of the Board at Genius Within, member of the advisory board of the Valuable500 & Served as Chair of the Diversity Board for Institute of Coding. He is co-founder of AXSChat Europe’s largest twitter chat with a focus on Accessibility & Inclusion. Neil is dyslexic and has ADHD, he advocates for people with neurodivergent conditions as well as other disabilities and additional needs.

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