Jamf Blog
September 29, 2020 by Haddayr Copley-Woods

Apple accessibility features empower everyone to meet their full potential

This panel discussion featured three very personal and different use cases of Apple accessibility. Each presenter is an advocate, either for themselves or for others. They addressed the importance of this technology, those who benefit from the tools and how each of us has an opportunity to advocate for ourselves and others.

Kelly Offerman (kelly.offerman@jamf.com), Kurt Luporini (kurt.luporini@jamf.com), Tim Kilburn (tim.kilburn@fmcsd.ab.ca)

Kurt to do presentation intro from Kelly’s notes:

In today’s Apple Accessibility panel we will feature 3 very personal and different use cases around embracing Apple technology in every day life and discussing how each of us has been affected by Apple Accessibility differently. These are our personal stories and experiences utilizing this technology to communicate in various ways. Today we will be addressing why Accessibility is so important and how each of us are advocates, either for ourselves or for others.

Kurt: (5-10 mins)

Why do it and how am I an advocate?

My Son, Lawrence is the key focus for me in this session. Having an extensive background in child psychology, my wife noticed that Lawrence may be struggling with various developmental skills around the age of 6 months. It became more evident at 1yr so we brought him in for various testing and he was ultimately diagnosed being on the Autism spectrum. We immediately immersed him in various types of leading edge therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis or what’s commonly known as ABA. We also leverage the Apple iPad and iPhone as communication, learning and soothing devices not only in the home but also at his school.

My part of this discussion will be keying in on the successes my Son has had with the Apple technology as it relates to his disability. I try to be an advocate and champion of support for my Son in his life as well as with all people who struggle with physical and cognitive disabilities, specifically in a professional environment. Only a few years ago only 19% of people with disabilities were employed versus 68% of people without a disability. This is an untapped labor pool where recruiting in our country is at an all time competitive high. Also, 87% of people agree or strongly agree that they would prefer giving their business to companies that employee people with disabilities.

Within Jamf I am able to do so through a few of us founding an Employee Resource Group known as Accessibility for All. I personally started thinking about this effort based on what many notable companies were already doing internally. Walgreens is a great example of this. Over the last several years Walgreens has hired over 1,000 people with disabilities. They didn’t lower the bar when it came to performance. What they did was open the door wider to include those who are routinely overlooked. They also found that in many instances, the population of people with disabilities had higher productivity and lower turnover (48% less). If you want to learn more about what were are doing at Jamf within this area, please visit Jamf.com!!

I want to show a couple of videos of my Son and how he has embraced Apple technology in his life and the importance and differences they have already made for him and for us in every day actions. This first video is from February 2017 when my Son was doing ABA therapy at a local Autism School. This video demonstrates Lawrence being able to communicate with his teacher letting her understand that he wanted more letters to play with. You can see how happy he was in doing this exercise. (Stop to show first video) That is because prior to this, he often became frustrated because he was not able to communicate with anyone to share what he actually wanted. This was truly a breakthrough moment for him and for us as well. Interesting enough and extremely relevant to this exact day, I was making my final journey coming to work for Jamf as I was at our corporate office for my final round of interviews. I don’t think it was coincidence!!

The second video depicts him using a school provided iPad being utilized in “Single App Mode”. The specific app is for communication and it has some defaults but can also be customized for our requirements and personal environment. (Stop to show second video) This device allows Lawrence to convey things to us like being hungry and what specifically he wants to eat or drink, wanting to go play outside or go on his tricycle. He takes this to school with him and then also home. He was just given this device late last school year but loves playing with it and is getting better with it all the time.

Lawrence also really loves music and he utilizes an iPhone to play all his favorite tunes. He typically uses this right before he goes to bed to sooth himself and be able to wind down. Simple but very effective for him.

These are some of the main examples on how Apple has made a difference for our Son and our family with the great technology and apps provided to him. My hope is that ultimately people are celebrated for their differences. So don’t hide or be ashamed of your accessibility differences, embrace and celebrate them!

Kelly: (5-10 mins)

Neuro Use Case - Jamf Employee

Tim: (5-10 mins)

Physical Use Case - Jamf Admin

TIM

My presentation would be something to the effect of:

As a blind person, I’ve experienced many challenges and barriers throughout my life, both personally and professionally. Some barriers were present simply due to the fact that I cannot see, whereas other barriers are put there by people who believed that I couldn’t do something due to being blind. For example, the Dean of Education where I graduated with my Bachelor of Education thought I would not be able to teach in a regular classroom due to my blindness. In fact, I taught in the classroom for over 25 years before moving into my current role. Often, as a person with a disability, I need to advocate for my self to prove to others that the hurdles they’ve constructed are actually surmountable. On the other hand, my father was a pilot and I loved to fly with him. I loved it so much that I would have probably became a pilot if I had the vision to do so. There are, of course, tasks that are more or less impossible to accomplish due to my lack of vision, yet there are many things I can do that would surprise you. Some I might just do a little different than most sighted people through ingenuity and pure perseverance, and others I have become proficient at as technology adapted and improved.

Apple has made a commitment to accessibility within its platforms, and because of these priorities, all sorts of opportunities have become attainable for me that were rather difficult in the past. Consider the iPhone and its touch screen. Without thinking outside the box, how could a blind person use such a device. Especially, when the sighted user just touches an icon on the screen and something happens. Blind people would not know what they were touching and would therefore never be able to do anything productive on the iPhone. Apple’s engineers did not let this stop them from making the iPhone and iPad usable by a blind person. The following video is a screen recording of me going through some day-to-day tasks on my iPhone.

—Play video——

As you hopefully were able to see, the iPhone is totally usable by me as a blind person. The gestures are slightly different than those that a sighted user implements, but the process works great. Similarly, the mac is accessible to me with the built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. There are still challenges with some applications as not all developers consider proper accessibility when designing their apps. Often buttons and other elements are not labelled or the developer uses custom elements that do not reference the accessibility API’s present within Apple’s frameworks. These oversights often make it difficult or impossible for blind users to effectively use the app.

There are times when we need to advocate for ourselves. There are times that we need the support of parents, friends or colleagues in order to advocate for us. There are also times when corporations like Apple directly and indirectly advocate by raising the bar and making accessibility within their products a given. In all three of our situations, advocacy has been a key factor in the success of our careers, our productivity and most importantly, our sense of well-being.

******

KELLY

Hello! My name is Kelly Offerman, I am a Healthcare Business Development Executive here at Jamf. I am also Dyslexic.

Dyslexia is most commonly defined as a learning disability that is related to ones reading and writing skills. Dyslexia can occur in people of all backgrounds. I have seen varying estimates, usually the average is about 10-17% of the population have symptoms of Dyslexia.

My interpretation of this based on my personal experiences and the research I have done is that definition is the effect of dyslexia. Reading and writing issues are how dyslexia effects me… what creates this effect is a neurological difference in the way I process information. This way of processing also allows me and other dyslexics to naturally hone in on other key strengths such as Mechanical reasoning and Dynamic reasoning to name a couple. This neurological difference in the way I process information effects me positively in many ways and adversely, effects my ability to phonically decode.

This difference in processing does NOT effect ones vision. Which is a common misconception.. have you ever heard dyslexics see backwards or flipped? This is because Dyslexics see in 3 dimensions and when describing what they are seeing in letters this is typically the best way that is described. This strength in seeing in 3 dimensions also relates to their Mechanical/ Material reasoning skills.

This difference in neurological processing is also NOT associated with ones intelligence level. Studies have shown people with dyslexia are usually more creative and have a higher level of intelligence.

YET -

  • 80% of the population believes that dyslexia is associated with low intelligence
  • Dyslexics are 5 times more likely to be unemployed
  • Higher rates of dropping out of high school, nearly 60% for those with Dyslexic symptoms
  • Higher overall incarceration rates, nearly 50% of TX state prison population is found to have Dyslexia symptoms
  • Depression is often incorporated into their lives due to the struggles listed above

Dyslexics are more likely to be looked at as having low intelligence, drop out of high school, become unemployed and struggle with low self esteem because of being labeled “stupid” or “slow”.

So for me personally, I struggled with depression early on in elementary school. I knew I was different and could not express to the world what that meant for me. Getting my high school diploma was always a requirement from my parents so I did not realize or understand the stigma I was battling against until I started becoming my own self advocate as I progressed through high school. College and more so a bachelors degree always seemed unachievable to me. AND unfortunately some peers, teachers and counselors let me know this!!

This photo and my goofy smile are proof that I COULD do it!! I was feeling on top of the world in this photo which was only possible because of Advocacy and Apple Technology. My Mother who is with me in the photo is now a retired educator. She noticed early on that the effects of my dyslexia where not going to hold me back from contributing and competing academically amongst my peers.

So of course after I graduated I celebrated my accomplishment by taking a trip with my best friend. I snapped this picture on my last day and posted it to my social media account with this caption.

"Last day in the sunshine sate and it has been a journey to get here to say the least. Working double shifts to make ends meet while finishing my bachelors degree evenings and weekends. Finding time to study usually meant hauling all my books to works I could study on my lunch breaks. I wouldn’t have made it this far without help from so many wonderful people in my life. Being a dyslexic with a bachelors in business management was a task! Without people like my mother who was always there to help.. I can’t say I would have been able to maintain motivation with the same positive attitude.. and days at the beach with the bestie make it all the worth while.”

I deleted the caption within 20 minutes all because of two words .. “Being Dyslexic”

At the time I was still ashamed and very secretive about my dyslexia. I replaced it with the simple phrase “till next time”

I was feeling ON TOP of the world just days before when I walked across that stage.. YET I deleted the caption because I was about to start my first “real” job in the field I had been pursuing and I was going to have to choose how to address my learning disability.

See a couple days before I walked at graduation I had accepted a position after my forth interview with the sales director. AND come Monday I was going to have to decide if I was going to disclose my disability. “Was my new boss one of the 80%??.. Would they understand??” … the decision to disclose for me and I would only assume others as well is tough and usually not taken lightly.. I had advocates support me in ways they never will really know. Just taking the extra time to explain something and not lose patience is HUGE for me! SO thank you so much for all who have advocated for me in one way or another.

I would simply not be here today without advocacy and Technology - specifically Apple’s commitment to Accessibility!!

So when I had a chance to get my foot in the door at Jamf I took the leap to disclose for the first time EVER in the interview stage that I had a learning difference. I advocated for myself from the start and with the use of my Apple computer I already had what I needed to get started!!

This image is of my 1 year anniversary of Jamf to the DAY where I recorded a webinar highlighting the tools I use everyday to communicate. The tools are only as useful as they are accessible. Lets continue to be advocates for ourselves and others!! Without Apple devices I would not be here or most likely hold my degrees. That is a fact for me, not am opinion.

Advocacy opened the door for me, got me out of the separate classrooms AND Apple Technology enabled me to be successful!!

View the full JNUC panel presentation.

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