ARTICLE

Accessibility and Frontend: putting my expertise to use in my first 3 months at fresk.digital

91 days, and counting

May 31, 2024
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Thomas Machielsen

When it comes to onboarding, whenever you start a new job you can’t deny that there is always some type of excitement, maybe even anxiousness. This was the farthest from my experience when I joined fresk.digital on March 1st of this year.

It does help that I hit the ground running 🏃♂️. Because I knew the people who welcomed me on my first day very well from a former company we worked for, I could dive into a project right from the start, and I was immediately embraced by a great team at the 2 year anniversary party of fresk.digital. It was really nice to get to know my new colleagues in a social setting before I started.

I was lucky 🍀 with the party, but even without the party, at fresk.digital things are not left up to chance. One of the things you receive when you start at fresk.digital is a personalised onboarding board in our main tool ClickUp. It has all the tasks and tips to guide you through your first weeks. What I liked a lot is that fresk.digital asks you to plan meetings with your peers and team, so you can start getting to know the people you will be working with. It really fast tracked everything.

1️⃣ of the reasons I chose to work for fresk.digital was because I knew some of my “new” colleagues from a former employer or from the Dutch Frontend-scene I am active in. It kind of feels like a life hack to choose a company where you can ease in, because you know the people you will be working with. It’s like being in a comfort zone where the anxiousness of “the new” is not there. And though this was the case for my colleagues, it definitely was not a comfort zone when it comes to work. I felt challenged from day 1, and in a good way! Yes I was pushed out of my comfort zone, but I was guided and supported by my team where there is attention for each other and where we tackle challenges together.

2️⃣ Another reason I chose to join fresk.digital is the Homeshoring-principle, where our office is in the cloud and we work from wherever we decide is our home. For me that means I prefer to work from my house in Nijverdal in the east of the Netherlands, or in the train when I am travelling to meetings; I also plan to work in the boulder hall where I climb, that way I can combine my sport and hobby with my work. When it comes to meeting my colleagues, in practice it means that we see each other at least once a Month physically during our Monthly social event, but to be honest we see each other very often online. The whole company gets together online every Monday for our weekstart where we very transparently inform each other on the running projects and the things that are coming up. The tech discipline that I am part of has weekly sessions that can either be online or face to face where we discuss our code, projects and personal growth. The project team has specific ceremonies where we see each other about the progress, challenges and opportunities of our projects, or just because we want to work together. What I like is the flexibility to meet each other online or face to face. Whenever we need or want to, we find each other. I know I talk to one or more colleagues on a daily basis.

3️⃣ In my first tech discipline session I made some suggestions about how we could add more time talking about our personal code, and less than a week later it was set up and embedded in our discipline structure. This made me feel taken seriously from the start. I should not be surprised, but I was, pleasantly! And it did not stop with this example.

One of my specialties is #Accessibility for #digitalplatforms.

Accessibility in the streets

This started somewhere in 2016 when my eyes were opened during a Meetup about #React, which at that time was up and coming (can you imagine?), where someone discussed the inability to use a screen reader on websites made in React. A seed was planted and the more I looked around, the more surprised I was that not everyone was focusing on this #inclusivity. With the years I started researching, learning and eventually became a certified international web accessibility specialist; I have become somewhat of an evangelist and expert in the area.

To help towards a first baseline for clients, I have developed a quick scan to do a first check to assess the level of accessibility in a web platform.

💻 ♿️ 👂 👁️

In one year on June 1st 2025 the European Accessibility Act (EAA) will be active and companies it will be mandatory to make their services digitally accessible. But I believe that even without this law, companies should be intrinsically driven to be accessible, because you are excluding 15% (!!) of the people if you don’t. My voice is heard and my expertise is seen and taken seriously here at fresk.digital, which means that I can help bring our internal accessibility knowledge to the next level in maturity. And help our clients with their challenges with accessibility.

To help towards a first baseline for clients, I have developed a quick scan to do a first check to assess the level of accessibility in a web platform. The scan is straightforward, and won’t take a lot of time:

  • Scoping: with our client we define the scope of the scan.
  • Analysis: within the scope we analyse the pages and pinpoint the low hanging fruit and the not so low hanging fruit.
  • Advise: we deliver a report with our findings about the current level of maturity and recommend the next best steps of action.

Considering I started 3 Months ago, this amount of trust and partnership is rare in an employer, but one of the core values of fresk.digital is “We have Freedom & Responsibility” and they practice what they preach. 🙏🏼

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