Rani Cohen shares her story of seeing an opportunity to put her passion for being an ally for the Deaf-Blind community to work, helping make Indeed’s mobile app more accessible.
Rani started with Indeed in August 2019 and is a part of the Client Success Dedicated Team in New York City. She got involved with the Access Indeed Inclusion Resource Group (IRG) in late 2019.
As a Client Success Specialist at Indeed, I work closely with Account Executives to help Employers with their hiring needs by providing strategic advice to help them make their next hire. I help answer questions about Indeed’s products and services, troubleshoot technical issues and provide suggestions for optimizing job advertisements.
My affinity for the Deaf-Blind community started during my previous job. I moved through many different roles and titles but always was involved with accessibility. I was inspired by a customer who is Deaf-Blind and works for the Helen Keller National Center. She was coming to us for guidance about how to use VoiceOver on her smartphone to be more independent. I worked with that client and another one of my colleagues for the better part of 6 years.
Throughout my tenure at my previous job, I made sure to leave time to do Accessibility work. I’m self-taught when it comes to the VoiceOver feature. I wanted to take the time to understand it myself to best teach the functionality, so I sought out resources and practiced in my spare time. I also took an ASL class so that I could better support any Deaf customers who came into our store. During that time, I became more familiar with VoiceOver and the challenges that the Deaf-Blind, Deaf, and Blind communities face in the workforce.
Working with the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, and Blind communities gave me a unique perspective on what challenges those communities face. This ignited my passion for accessibility and making sure to focus on removing all obstacles in the way. I’m super grateful for the people I met who helped guide me and pushed me to take the time and learn about this technology.
During that time I made a Deaf-Blind friend who is a technology whiz with his own tech blog. When I told him I was going to work for Indeed, he said he had challenges using our app while he was searching for his jobs using VoiceOver.
This knowledge inspired me to join Access Indeed, an Inclusion Resource Group at Indeed (IRG) dedicated to identifying and addressing issues that come with visible and non-visible disabilities in the workplace, to try to see how I could get involved in Indeed’s accessibility work. I’m really not okay with things being “just accessible enough”. I believe that we should remove as many obstacles as possible so we really can help all people get jobs!
An Opportunity to Help
One day I was in the Access Indeed IRG Slack channel and saw one of Indeed’s, Senior Design Technologist asking if any of the members know anyone who uses assistive technologies day-to-day, such as screen readers, Zoom capabilities or dedicated software, Braille devices, speech input software, etc. because she was working to make indeed.com compliant with new web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.1). I hesitated for a bit before replying that while I am not a Blind user, I have some experience using VoiceOver on iOS.
Now, I’m currently working with Indeed’s Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging team as part of a cross-functional accessibility initiative to help troubleshoot the VoiceOver functionality. What I do is enable VoiceOver on my iPhone and just go through the Indeed app as if I were a job seeker looking for a job. What I’ll do is report things that are not announced correctly.
For example, the back button should simply say “Back Button,” but it used to announce “Blue Chevron, maybe, back button.”
Little things like that can be super overwhelming for a Blind user if the announcements are wrong, or too long, or just plain confusing. I do all this in my spare time when I am not doing my regular Client Success responsibilities, simply because I am passionate about it and want to help. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to contribute to this development.
I really want to see more awareness around accessibility-related bias in the hiring process. After working with Helen Keller National Center, I witnessed firsthand how difficult it is to be a Deaf-Blind individual looking for work. We should be so aware of this and do everything we can to make this better, being the largest job site in the world.
I think this work can help Indeed stay true to its mission to be the best place to find a job for all people by creating access for anyone using a screen reader to connect with future employers.