Commemorating Global Accessibility Awareness Day 

Since today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, it is a great opportunity to consider why and how we can make our environments more accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities without them feeling disadvantaged. This is especially important at Instructure where we create software that makes people of all abilities better and smarter.

I have a disability. You take one look at me and it’s obvious. In 2006, I was involved in an ATV accident, where the ATV I was riding landed on me. I am paralyzed from the chest down due to a spinal cord injury at the T4/T5 vertebra. So I get around in a manual wheelchair like other people with paraplegia. But I am rarely limited by this disability. 

Many people we work with have disabilities, too. Some disabilities are apparent and some are not. Some people, like me, are able to go throughout their days with adaptive equipment, helpful people, and an environment that does not significantly impede them. Some people struggle with the lack of one or all of these. Some struggle silently.

I have never felt constrained in my work in any of our facilities or at any of our events. Some of this is because the environment is adaptable to me and some of this is because people look out for me. For example, our desks can be raised and lowered with the push of a button, which is great because I sit a bit higher and I sometimes need to stretch my legs. 

Another example of people helping create an accessible work environment happened last year when a room reservation device was installed outside each of our conference rooms to allow better use of our facilities. The head of our technology services organization showed awareness and consulted me and other coworkers with disabilities to ask us where the reservation monitor should be mounted so it would work for everyone. These are just two of many more examples of awareness and inclusion that I experience here at Instructure

This is the best job I’ve ever had. I work in environments and with people that encourage my best self and my best results. And I help deliver and enhance our Canvas learning management system. Canvas is used by millions of people with all kinds of abilities and disabilities to teach, to learn and to become better, smarter, more capable and happy people.  Best. Job. Ever.

 

Keep learning,

Steve Townsend
VP of Engineering, Instructure