The Universal Impact of Accessible Tech

For this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, our expert team gathered to discuss the impact of accessible technology in the workplace. Led by Christina Mallon from Microsoft, and Inclusively Principals Michelle Witman and Mary Liz McNamara, the panel discussed how innovations designed for accessibility have become beneficial for everyone.


Christina Mallon opened the discussion by sharing her personal journey with accessible technology due to her dual-arm paralysis. She highlighted how technologies initially meant to assist individuals with disabilities, such as voice-activated devices and AI-powered navigation tools, have become mainstream, enhancing daily life for all users. Mallon emphasized, “These tools have advanced the lives of many, proving that when we design for accessibility, we create solutions that benefit everyone in society.”

The experts discussed the importance of including diverse perspectives in the design process to ensure that technologies are accessible and effective for all users. They stressed the need for organizations to shift from a disability-first approach to asking, “What do you need to succeed?” This change can lead to more innovative and inclusive solutions.

The event wrapped up with a demo of our Retain solution and a strong call to action for organizations to integrate accommodations into practices, not just to comply with legal standards but to enhance  productivity. The panel made it clear that embracing accessible technology and universal design principles is not only beneficial for individuals with disabilities but for the entire community and user experience.



Christina Mallon 0:00
Hey everybody, thank you so much for joining us. I’m Christina Mallon. And I’m your host. So we’re gonna have this amazing panel really talking about the universal impact of accessible technology, just to really celebrate the amazing Global Accessibility Awareness Day. [inaudible]

If any of you are in need of sign language interpretation, I recommend going to the ‘More’ button on the bottom, and clicking interpretation. This is a new Zoom feature, which allows for you to adjust the size and view the sign language interpreter. So today, we really plan on delving into the remarkable realization where innovation meets inclusivity.

We’re gonna highlight the numerous technological advancements initially designed for disabled users like me, that have transcended their original purpose because they were better innovations for all. We’re gonna be very surprised about some of the innovations that were created for and with people disabilities, are now used by all. Voice activated devices, AI powered navigation. These tools have advanced the lives of many, proving that when we design for accessibility, we create solutions that benefit everyone in society. Join me and some key team members of Inclusively as we explore the transformative technologies, and their far reaching effects on our daily lives.

So as I mentioned, I have a disability. I’m neurodivergent, and I am dual-arm paralysis due to ALS. You’re probably asking, How am I working? Or how am I able to use a computer for this virtual panel?

I’m able to do this because of accessible technology and workplace accommodations.

By day, I am leading inclusive design at Microsoft. What does that mean? Well, I’m helping teams ensure that they’re co-designing products and features with diverse users to ensure that it’s not just their, lived experiences that reflect in Microsoft’s products. And by night.

I’m a mom to a two year old girl, and also on Open Style Lab, which is my nonprofit with my two partners. So I spend most of my time doing inclusive design and universal design because I really believe in this design methodology. What this design methodology asks is, for experienced creators, anyone, every single person attending this webinar, or watching this recording, post recording is a designer, because they create experiences that affect others.

So when you’re making decisions that affect others, I highly recommend leveraging the universal design methodology, which is first, understand who you might be leaving out from your decision based on your lived experience. Because consciously and unconsciously, people leave people out of their decisions.

The second principle is to really work with individuals that have different lived experiences than you to ensure that their viewpoint and their needs are considered in the design making process. And the third is to either design multiple versions, so that it works for all different types of abilities or create one version for the edge case. As you know, we talked about, let’s say someone with dual-arm paralysis, and extending it to everyone. So again, three kind of principles of a universal inclusive design is one identify who might be being left out in decision, two work with those individuals to understand their needs and abilities. And three is design multiple versions or create one version for extreme cases and leverage it to be used by others. So how’s that relevant working?

You know, workplace and things like that. Inclusive design and universal design has been really used in creating great work-life experiences throughout time. We may think about different accommodations or technologies that were first created for people with disabilities, and are now used by all we have text-to-speech. What I think is so amazing is that everyone can really benefit from being able to have the computer, read out what’s on screen, sitting at a desk and typing for hours, is not great for your body. And our bodies weren’t made for that they weren’t evolved to do that. So by having these accessible technology inventions like text-to-speech, now, people who maybe don’t need it all the time, like everybody else, but for me, I need it. Because it’s sometimes hard for me to be able to get close to my computer, but I want to understand what’s on my computer screen. Things like speech to text. I’m controlling my computer right now, with my feet, just because I’m talking to you. And I can’t use dictation. But usually, I’m talking to my computer. And that is how I navigate using my voice because my arms are paralyzed, and I don’t see them coming back anytime soon. We think about virtual backgrounds, I remember at the beginning of COVID, I was so concerned about making sure that my office was beautiful, designed, clean and nice. And then I couldn’t keep up with that maybe kept up with that for the first week after I kind of looked like a mess. And what I loved was that we had the option now to add these blurry backgrounds, or a whole new background. So I didn’t have to always clean my office, I didn’t have that pressure. And that was originally created for individuals, you know, who want to ensure that they are not having distracting backgrounds for lip reading colleagues, because that would take away their focus from being able to lip read. And things like subtitles, I work internationally. And well. English, you know, is a common language that everyone speaks English well. And I need to know what they’re saying. So having subtitles, everything that I do for every presentation that was originally created for my friends that are deaf, or, you know, or hard of hearing, but now I can use it, because it works for me internationally.

Aware technology and accommodation that were really created for disabled people are better for everyone. And also remember, everyone becomes disabled at some point in their lives. So it’s important to have these.

And when we think about inclusivity and efficiency, it’s important to note that, like 53% increase in productivity when accommodations are integrated into employees work experience, that is huge. By having this technology and having these accommodations, you see this increase in productivity, I want to talk about a personal experience that I haven’t really shared with too many people. When I first became paralyzed, I was working at a place.

And they just really weren’t inclusive for people with disabilities. They weren’t offering me any accommodation, even though I was like afraid to ask, but hoping they would offer me because I didn’t have to navigate the workplace as a disabled person. And I was really suffering, thinking about like, you know, not being able to physically do a lot of the tasks while going through kind of a terminal disease is it’s tough. And they laid me off because of performance, even though they knew what was going on. So, you know, fast forward, you know, gosh, eight years, and I’m working at Microsoft and I’m leading an inclusive design team, being extremely successful, partnering with huge brands, and I’m able to be successful because of the accommodations and the accessible tech that was created. So when we think about productivity, we need to really think about it’s important to provide accommodations and support to employees because it makes them more productive, which ends up benefiting too. So enough about me and about, you know, my personal story I really want to turn to Michelle and Mary Liz. They just have you know, so much to add with their decades of experience with accommodations and assist.

Michelle Witman 10:14
Thanks Christina. My name is Michelle Witman pronouns she hers. I’m a middle-aged woman coming to you with glasses and long shoulder length hair. And I am one of the principal consultants here at Inclusively I’ll kick it over for a brief introduction to my what I refer to as my partner in crime, Mary Liz to also give a brief introduction and then we’ll we’ll dig in. Thanks.

Mary Liz McNamara 10:37
Hi. Hi. Hi, I’m thrilled to be here. Mary Liz McNamara. Yes, I am part of the team here with Michelle, and pronouns she hers, I am a late middle aged woman with short brown hair, and with a white shirt on with beads. Michelle

Michelle Witman 10:53
Mary Liz, I’m missing my beads. But we, but here’s what I what I will say, Christina, you made a really important point about the importance of accommodations. And, you know, when we’re talking about workplace accommodations, we’re really talking about leveling the playing field, right? It’s all about trying to make sure that every single person, frankly, like, regardless of background or ability has what they need to succeed in the workplace. And so, you know, when we think about why this is critical, right, right now? Well, it’s because our workforce and our work environments are changing fast. So we have different people coming in, each with their own strengths, with their own challenges and their own in their own needs. So why, you know, what are we looking for? Well, when we’re talking about accommodations, in the most basic level, we’re, we’re talking about removing the barriers to success. So whether it’s providing equipment, or adjusting workplace schedules, or providing a tech solution, when we can remove the barriers, on the most basic level, what happens? Well, productivity goes up, right? Creativity flourishes, and everyone is given a fair shot at success. It doesn’t mean that it’s an automatic opportunity for success. Well, it is an opportunity for success, it doesn’t equate to success. But what it does is that by providing workplace accommodations, we’re ensuring that employees have the ability to bring the talent that we’ve hired them for to the table, and then also make sure that we’re giving the messaging that we value, we value them, you know, Mary Liz, you know, we’ve talked a lot about about accommodations, as, as being, you know, really important in the place of, of setting up inclusive employment spaces.

Mary Liz McNamara 12:42
Well, I think, you know, when we talk about accessible tech, I think there’s a double meaning there, it’s also we want to use those tech solutions to provide accommodations and provide access for people with disabilities. But we also want that tech to be the other meaning of accessible: available. So we need to find ways for these solutions that Christina is talking about, and Michelle was talking about, to make sure that those are available to the people who need them. And the barriers that are kind of put in place, especially about tech solutions are significant and ongoing, because I think what we’re seeing is really an explosion of solutions of possible modifications and accommodations that are related to tech use. And I, you know, I don’t need to tell anybody how important, you know, technology is in everybody’s life already. So it’s as important in work, but we need to find ways to make sure those solutions are available to people, and that we encourage their use, so that the accessibility of tech is not just to make the digital world accessible. But we need to find ways to make those tools, get them to the people who could use them. And it’s not always easy to identify them quickly. So we want to encourage people know what’s out there, try it out, use it in your workplace, these are productivity tools. And as we’re going to see, as we talk further, the uses keep increasing, the things that we thought that they were made for, we find new uses new ways to build productivity.

Michelle Witman 14:19
I think I think that’s extraordinarily important. And part of of that when we think about tech as accommodations and as, as, as solutions, right? One of the one of the pivots that we’re seeing actually happening right now is like, you know, for the most part of my career and a little bit longer than Mary Liz’s career, just kidding Mary Liz. But you know, during, during during most of our work in the accommodation space, we’ve always started when we’re looking to if a person with disabilities looking to access like workplace accommodations, there’s always been this significant formality where the first step has always been, you know, proving or establishing disability status to almost check to see if Um, are, do you have a disability? And therefore then are you eligible to almost receive accommodations? Right? So it’s like, we’ve really started with questions like, traditionally, with what is your disability? Or what is your diagnosis? And does this meet the certain level of criteria, right? From this compliance space, what we’ve actually identified is, is now with this surge of easy to access technological solutions, we actually can start, we’re actually seeing like a shift right before our very eyes, where this change is happening that instead of, you know, honing in on a disability status, we can actually shift gears to ask questions like, Well, what do you need to be successful in the workplace? And if we can start by even flipping that question, like, what do you need to succeed? Then we can start to just jump right into identifying tech solutions and solutions and accommodations that will work and remove that barrier. So it’s really, it’s really important shifts, it’s a beautiful shift, I will double down here and say, I believe it raises and honors the compliance model, but kind of goes above it to make sure that we’re ensuring that the individual we’re speaking with has a seat at the table, and is also able to share what it is that they need in order to be successful, to increase their, you know, access to increase their productivity, their organization, and, and be able to show up authentically as themselves. You know, shifting to that question of, what do you need to be successful, puts the power back in the hands of the individual. I think that’s beautiful. It also ensures that like, they are part of that process, and when we talk about getting accommodations to the people who want and or need to utilize them, you know, they get to be a part of that interaction, and it allows them to contribute to their own success.

Mary Liz McNamara 15:01
You know, Michelle and I were talking earlier before about kind of the accommodations path and how, if you have accommodations that are the accommodation process, that in the very beginning talks about what your disability, you are doing kind of a separate but equal path forward where the people with disabilities are, they have to prove a disability and get what they need. What we’re talking about when we’re talking about tech solutions, is not just the standard solutions that we think of like screen readers or captioning solutions, but also some tools that can be used.

Apps for wellness, organizational tools, I think everybody has seen things like Trello, even communication, tools, Slack, they are changing the workplace for everybody, how can we use those tools that everybody is using, and make sure that they are accessible to people with a wide variety of disabilities? And also can be used to are available are available to them? So how do we get them to the people who need them, and not all people who need them will be people who first identify as having a disability.

Michelle Witman 18:13
I think and Christina jump in here, but I think it’s also extraordinarily important as we talk about this rise of tech options in these tech solutions, to organize them, and put them in a way where, where individuals can easily search and identify which tools would be would be a good match for them. Right? Not necessarily based on like diagnosis, but based on impact, right? Like, what what is? Where is the challenge in the workplace? Where’s your potential barrier? And which of these tools might be the good, a good fit for me? How do I learn about them? How do I learn what’s available? And how do I access them, like almost all with ease?

Christina Mallon 18:55
50% of people who don’t have a diagnosis. And then like when they do like they are such, I have ALS and most people with ALS, you know, can’t even use their voice or their legs. So their accommodations are completely different. I like we need some type of like, search engine or like Retain or a bot. I don’t want to spoil our we’re going to talk about soon, but I think they need tools to help them find what they need.

Mary Liz McNamara 19:26
It’s like the tech solution to that process of fine. How do I learn about what options are available to me? That also is an accessible tech solution.

Michelle Witman 19:37
Yeah, absolutely. I’m gonna double down on what y’all just said and bring it like up almost a level and say like, you know, we have some clients that we work with that are like, you know, where one of them’s, you know, global and we could talk about like Canada, where in Canada, the managers, right, there’s an expectation where managers can come to, you know, an employee ans say, wow, like, it looks like you may need some support. And, you know, having a tool to be able to say, Okay, I have a colleague or I have an employee that works with me that tends to run a little bit late to meetings, meetings, what might be a good tech solution there? Or how can I help solve for X, Y, and Z? What are some tech solutions that I could offer up right, or make his recommendations again, to your point, when there’s an opportunity to like educate, to learn about the tech solutions that are available, would be helpful to employees and also management?

Mary Liz McNamara 20:32
I think it requires a commitment not just on the accommodation team, and not just on the people who are requesting but also managers, colleagues to be aware of what what these products are, that could increase productivity for everybody. I mean, it takes learning it takes education, it takes access to the information. And I don’t think that’s in place in many, many organizations. It starts with, as you said, Michelle, it starts with the I have a disability question, rather than this is what I need to be successful. And I think that the rest of that sentence is successful at doing this. There’s an action involved to What are you trying to do? What is your job? So you can’t have accommodations without that type of a conversation as well.

Michelle Witman 21:20
I think it also goes, you know, and I’m not one to throw civil rights law over to the side. So I’m going to actually put it right back in the heart of the conversation. When we think about the ADA. And we think about the interactive process, starting with the question, what you need to be successful as it relates to work? is the heart of interaction, you know, it puts the right stakeholder at the heart of it. It’s pretty cool actually

Mary Liz McNamara 21:45
Thinking of like, some of the tools that are now in the market place that are people are using like, like AI note taking that provide summaries, I think, you know, I’ve seen in my even in my emails, now I get a summary of what the email, you know, is reporting, it’s these are incredible tools for everybody that have use as accommodations in the workplace, and need to be kind of highlighted for everybody. But the, the tech world is changing so quickly. And we want to make sure that people are aware, and using the tools that are already available. It’s amazing.

Michelle Witman 22:23
We can even just talk about like the the captioning and again, jump on him because I’m not the tech. I’m not I’m not the techie on the call. But if we’ve talked about, like, you know, AI powered captioning when we all started this work. I mean, it’s come such a long way, even a couple of years ago, right? A couple of years, even from a couple of years ago, and we started onboarding with, you know, we’re really moving to Zoom. So like, you know, if you think about real time captions, they’re super, you know, they’re precise. They’re popping up in all meetings and presentations. And, and again, and it goes back to what Christina said, We’re originally it’s not you know, what people who are deaf or hard of hearing, right, would benefit from them, but others do too. People with processing issues benefit, right? People who, who would benefit from that multi-sensory approach to receiving information or people who struggled to stay focused, like, it’s better for everyone. You know, it’s like, it’s like this cool, immersive experience. And what on the other side is that it boosts both understanding. And it boosts memory. And it also boosts recall for all. So why not? You know?

Mary Liz McNamara 23:28
I think there’s been a shift. And I don’t think we’re there yet, 100%. But there has been a shift in the last, say, five years about using recording and note taking software to provide access to meetings. So it used to be a very difficult lift, to get approval for somebody to be able to record a conversation. And now I think it’s become normalized and that people are using notetaking software, which is an incredible tool for access and productivity. And I just think people are more comfortable with it. Do you two have thoughts about that? Or is that been your experience? Where do you think the world is on that specific issue?

Christina Mallon 24:15
I mean, I see it just at with teams at Microsoft. It is extremely common. Previously, I had to ask, and it was super awkward because people thought that I’d used the recording against them and they didn’t understand or they’d say that they would do the recap and we didn’t need and they didn’t have enough time to actually do it. Nope. But I would say that probably 70% of my calls are recorded. I’m not the one asking for the recording. And I know the person that is asking for them doesn’t have a disability.

Mary Liz McNamara 24:46
Right. So that is like an incredible shift in a very short time that that we have all observed. This introduction of this tool that you had to fight for as a disability related accommodation. And now is really everywhere. And it’s and it’s using used by everyone. And it’s really, really effective. And we’re not going back. So like providing those tools to everybody, you’re going to have people who have disabilities who no longer have to request go through the process, and everybody’s going to boost their productivity. So that is I, to me just the most obvious example of a real shift in the last few years.

Michelle Witman 25:25
You know, again, to your point, like it used to be it’s permission and these questions around intellectual property. The reality is, is that we’re watching that after we present when we when we attend a presentation, or even after today, right, presumably, there will be a very quick ability for our marketing team at Inclusively to do a quick turnaround of, a recap of the highlights of the session. And it will be very low, I’m saying this, but it’s factually speaking like, it will, it is changing, helping to change the way in which we do with the way in which we work, which is at the beginning, when I said not only do we have changing employees coming in, but we have a changing workload and work for like the whole the work environments changing. And it’s a beautiful time, I think, for us, particularly the three of us sitting in this space to ensure that access remains front and center, as we move along, because it’s moving along. So every time someone hears us do like a call out or lean in an opportunity to get it right or to refine, it’s incredibly important, because we want to make sure that we are not left behind, and that we are on the front end of it, you know, but it does go back like the most creative, innovative problem solvers. You know, when when Christina was talking about, like, you know, the second principle that you’re referring to you built for the, the outside, and then that ends up becoming normalized, right? That is the momentum that we are seeing, you know, in, in all things universal design, it’s, it’s, you know, identify who’s who’s not included, solve for that, and then you end up bringing everybody along. It’s, it’s unbelievable. And you can think about, like, you know, we think about dictation software is another beautiful example of this work, right? That microphone feature that’s at the bottom of my phone, you know, again, was what came out of an access issue for people with disabilities. And yet for right now, I use it all the time to, you know, send a quick text or to like draft a memo, I have a I have a daughter, who uses it to draft the first draft of her paper, you know, like everybody, everybody uses it. You know, the other thing that you spoke to Christina, a little bit that I wanted to kick over to Mary Liz also is, you know, many of the clients that we work with here at Inclusively, our global clients. And you spoke a little bit about like about translation and trans and transcription, these translation tools. So be curious if you’ve seen, or if either you want to speak to these translation tools and how that’s changing the global landscape, you know, for the whole workforce?

Christina Mallon 28:04
It’s definitely making individuals where English is not their first language more confident, and, and willing to participate, to give their amazing knowledge. And that’s what I really noticed at Microsoft, because everyone has access to translations, and multiple different language and conversation, transcription that I’ve just really noticed individuals, that when we didn’t have this feature, maybe didn’t speak up as much. And now they’re really like flourishing and participating within, you know, all of the chats and different panels because they feel more confident. And I think that’s just one of the many reasons why we need to have this like accommodation mindset for everyone and not just for disabilities, because we are all being asked to be as productive as possible. And these are just tools, and there should be tools available for everyone. And Mary Liz, please add in.

Mary Liz McNamara 29:04
Well yes, the translation tools are and I’ve had the same experience as you, Christina, working with people who use the kind of real-time translation to interact in a business setting. It’s amazing. Also to translate text, material and videos instantaneously with AI translation. Also amazing. But I also think about how tech is being used to deliver information strategies, mental health apps, organizational tools, so things that you don’t think of these are not tech, it is a tech solution to a non-tech problem, and that those things are just available to everybody to use apps at work to maintain to know to reduce anxiety, to reduce stress, to increase organization to help you learn to help you learn language. Help, it’s just, it’s amazing what’s happening. And you just want to make sure that we are providing access to those tools for everybody and not making it a cumbersome process. And again, as I keep saying, it’s the solution to that is also the tech solution. So that’s a really a wonderful time for us to be doing this work. It has changed so much. I think we’re at, you know, at warp speed right now in terms of adaptation, change and progress.

Michelle Witman 30:32

Mary Liz McNamara 30:34
So we want to take some time to have you think about how can you take these tools that we’ve talked about, and what what is the process in your organization? You know, what are this the the tools that you have access to? Where can people find these tools? And what is the process for accessing them in a day to day situation in your organization? I mean, that’s where we kind of want to start all of us to think about not just what’s available, but how do I get it? And how do I get it to everyone in the organization? It’s really essential.

Michelle Witman 31:10
This is also asking those questions of, again, how when you’re asking, when you want to be providing that access, what’s your starting conversation with your employees and with your colleagues? Alright, what’s the starting? What’s the starting point? What do you ask you? How do you begin? Whether you’re the employee looking for a solution, or looking for that accommodation? Or if you’re a manager wanting to share out with your employees, you know, how does that conversation start within your organization?

Mary Liz McNamara 31:45
Right? And does it start with what’s your disability? Or what do you need to be successful? I mean, really, that is such an important shift in terms of how we start the conversation about accommodations.

I think we can invite in Nataly now, to help us explain what is it what is the solution that we think would be viable and really effective for delivering accommodations to your entire workplace? Hi, Nataly!

Nataly Cardenas 32:17
Oh, hi! Can you all see me okay, and hear me?

Mary Liz McNamara 32:22
Yes, we can.

Nataly Cardenas 32:23
Amazing. Well, thank you so much. I’m honored to be here. And happy global accessibility awareness day. My name is Nataly Cardenas. I am a Hispanic woman. And I have long black hair. And I’m wearing a pink sweater today. So I think this was the perfect segue. And thank you all for your input. I just love hearing all three of you speak I learned something new every time. And from a product perspective as I am the product manager at Inclusively. It sparks so many ideas and interests as to what we’re building to solve for the pain points that you so eloquently outlined. So I’m going to share my screen and give everyone a demo. Give me one moment as I figure out to how to do this.

Can you all see the Inclusively website? Retain? Yes, thumbs up. Amazing. Thank you. So as we just heard in today’s fast paced world, fostering an inclusive workplace is really not just about accommodations. It is about empowerment from both the employee and the HR team side. So everything in our platform is centered around what we call Success Enablers. And Success Enablers are the tools and the support that your employees need to be productive and happier at work. So it’s switching the mindset from accommodations to Success Enablers, because everyone can ask for a Success Enabler, everyone can benefit from different tools and tech to be more productive at work. So in this demo, I’m going to go through the employee experience, and really that starting point of how they search and discover and deduce what it is that they need to be successful. But then I’ll also go into the admin screens of this platform so that HR managers like you can see how you can start to build your success enablement framework. So starting from the beginning, as an employee, I will dive right into our system. And I’m going to open up our AI chat bot. Think of the AI chat bot as your personal guide or personal assistant where you can ask it any questions as it pertains to the workplace without having to disclose to your manager or HR team that you may need help. So you can ask you certain questions about what accommodations you can request for anxiety disorder. You also could ask, I require a note taker to be successful. What else do you recommend me help me in the workplace? Again, this is a safe and confidential space for your employees to come in without having to start that very formal process. So in this example, I’m going to give it a prompt.

And I’m going to say, my parent is sick and needs me more often. I have added stress to my plate, and I find it hard to manage my time. What Success Enablers do you recommend? Again, this is a real-world example of maybe someone that doesn’t necessarily have a disability, but is struggling at the workplace and wants assistance but doesn’t know where to start. So the Chatbot is going to listen to my response, it’s giving me a paragraph of some descriptive text of what it thinks could be helpful. But more interestingly, it also is going to surface three Success Enablers that it recommends that could be beneficial for me. So in this example, it’s recommending: uninterrupted work time, hybrid work schedule, and organizational tools. So I’m gonna go ahead and click organizational tools and uninterrupted work time, these seem like pretty reasonable Success Enablers that will make me happier and more productive at work. I’m going to end the chat. And I can now see that the Success Enablers have been added to my profile. What this does is it’s anonymously signaling to the employer that there is a need that needs to be addressed without me ever having to go to my manager and say, Hey, I’m really struggling, and I need help. So if I click open to these cards, I can see how my company, Inclusively is currently supporting this Success Enabler. So for organizational tools, I’ve opened it up, and I can see that Inclusively is currently offering software such as Otter.AI, OmniFocus, and Asana as tools that I can use today.

Let’s say I want to keep searching and see what other Success Enablers may be available. Inclusively is providing the Global Accommodations Framework and Success Enabler Framework that your company can then build off of. So this is best in class data that we’ve seen with our partner employers that can build upon what we already know people are asking for. So if I scroll through here, I’m going to look for apps for anxiety and stress. Given my example, my parent’s ill I have a lot of added stress to my plate, I think that this would be a beneficial Success Enabler added to my plate. So I’m going to go ahead and add that to my profile. And as you can see, Inclusively has not yet published a resource for this.

I’m going to switch gears and go on the admin side of of the platform. And let’s start with the analytics page. We are aggregating holistic data up to your HR teams. So you can see dynamically and in real-time what exactly your workforce is asking for and when. So going with the same example, I see that apps for anxiety and stress are a highly submitted Success Enabler at my workforce. And I don’t currently offer a resource for it. So this is a good indication of hey, my workforce is asking for something, I should invest some time into this, and resource this appropriately. So I’ll go into the Manage Resource section. And I’m going to filter by submission count, again, a very easy way to see which Success Enablers are the most requested by my workforce, again, after anxiety and stress is number one with 13 submissions. So I’m gonna go ahead and add a resource here. And as I do so, I have the ability to build my own Success Enabler framework on top of this specific Success Enabler. So for this example, I’m the HR team. And, you know, I see this is highly requested, so I’m going to now offer all of my employees accounts to Headspace. So I’m saying you can use your Inclusively email to sign up for your account, we have a partnership and I’m giving a brief overview of what Headspace is what it can be used for. Again, you can be used for daily stress, mental health coaching, increased productivity, etc. Once I publish this, my employees can now see this as a resource that I am supporting.

Here we go. And here it is. What this is doing is again, it’s using that holistic data to understand where it is that I should be investing my time, I can then publish a resource. And here now from the employee side, I don’t need to go through that formal, Interactive Accommodations Process for apps for anxiety and stress. This is self-service I could come on and I clearly see the steps that I need to take to get the Success Enabler on my profile. Another useful feature of this platform as we do allow employees the ability to rate the Success Enabler. So I now see that Inclusively is supporting this, I’m gonna give it a smiley face. And it will prompt me with the textbox. So I can give even more feedback as to hey, I’m really loving the Success Enabler. Let’s say we’ll go back to organizational tools. Yes, I see that Inclusively is offering a few software. But I actually would really love to see Monday. So I could say would be an awesome tool for me to use. This feedback is on surface to your HR teams anonymously. So that you can continue to innovate and dynamically shift your success enablement framework according to your workforce’s needs.

If this is at all interesting to you, I would love to go further into a configured and customizable demo according to your employer. So you can head on over to and click Request a Demo. And from here, it will prompt a very quick and easy form that you can fill out and our team will get back to you as soon as we can.

Christina Mallon 41:11
Awesome, amazing ah, that would have really helped me out in my first job, just to be able to do that without like just having it say what my disability is. And I can imagine just friends with mental health conditions. But the state of being really bad with mental health, how they would really benefit from that. Thank you so much for sharing, it was great.

Mary Liz McNamara 41:40
It’s an amazing tool to you know, for me is talking about, you know, a tech solution to the whole process, where you can learn about what you need and find out without having to start with that question of, you know, this is my disability, you may not even you may not have a disability, you may not feel you have a disability, and you want to be able to still find out about what options are available for you within the organization. It’s really terrific.

Michelle Witman 42:05
I think, Mary Liz, also, I mean, every time I mean, every time I’m together with this group of people, I’m constantly learning. And Nataly, a couple of the things that I saw this time that I hadn’t seen before even were things that I want to speak to you. First of all, the design of the platform itself is user friendly. And that goes back to one of the things that Christina spoke about at the very beginning of this call around, you know, identify who’s been left out, and then engage them and bring them along and make sure you include them in the development process. And I, I always love getting giving a shout out to you and your team members for always building in user experience, so that it’s not just making sure that it’s accessible, but that it’s actually user friendly. And so that is such a key feature of the Retain platform, but also what I loved about it, beyond what well, we’ll talk about in a second around like just easy, it’s easy, it’s accessible, I could be really struggling, let’s just say with significant mental health issues, and not have to go through an exhaustive process, and just get what I need to get to be successful. And if I wasn’t quite sure the amount of education available was huge also. But as you know, from the employer side, I’ll just say the three things that I just absolutely loved about it. I love the feedback options, I’d love that as an employer, I could navigate and see who’s requesting what, right? So that I know where to focus my energy in terms of what to work on or builds on or where I need some refinement, I love the opportunity to give anonymous feedback. And they love the opportunity to give personalized, anonymous feedback, which is way cool to say, you know, like, I’m interested in, or I’m interested in Trello. And being able to provide that anonymously back to my employer is, is nothing short of like, incredible, really incredible.

Mary Liz McNamara 42:06
So, so many times when we are surveying employees about kind of what’s the employee experience around accommodations, disability inclusion, we see again and again and again, people overwhelmingly indicating that they don’t have real strong opportunities to give anonymous feedback about anything, and especially not about accommodations. So this is, you know, incredibly important and unique, I think in allowing that, that option for employees, they really need it.

Christina Mallon 44:42
And a lot of these conversations are really happening in ERGs and employee resource groups or business resource groups. But most of that data is not getting back to the decision makers. And it’s not like you could just take an AI tool to analyze your company employee emails to see if they’re having any disconnect, discontent with accommodations. There has to be an easier, anonymous way.

Michelle Witman 45:07
There’s also Christina that to that point, when when we’ve been doing work, also, we’ve identified like, almost like there are ERGs. And then there are people in the workforce and the general workforce don’t even have access to the ERGs, that still would benefit from, like, from being able to learn and the tools and right and so it’s, this provides so many multiple avenues for organizations to streamline the feedback.

Mary Liz McNamara 45:37
And the flexibility to change what you need at any point. I mean, people’s jobs, change, their needs change, their lives change, and they need different tools. So the tools are evolving, but people are changing too. And every time there’s a job change or responsibility, increased responsibilities or promotion, you need to rethink what tools you need to be successful. And I think having access to the information in a seamless way, it’s easy for me to look at, I don’t have to go and give medical information so that I can talk to somebody about what might possibly be available, is is is a great boost.

Michelle Witman 46:19
And it stays in house. Like on our end, like we’re kind of we’re working with organizations on right, like accommodation teams who are overwhelmed and people who are using farlam already providers, this keeps it in house, right, you know, direct to the employees, it’s kind of cool. I mean, not kind of cool, it is way cool.

Mary Liz McNamara 46:41
Right, if you can keep if you can give your employees access to the information and not just the employees, the managers, you really need to have colleagues, everybody needs to learn about what options are available. So if if everybody is, you know, the old Sims department store being an educated consumer, is our best customer. And I think that’s true about all employees, if you know what can help you be successful, you have a better shot at being a good employee, you know, to be successful.

Nataly Cardenas 47:10
So, yeah, you’re hitting on an interesting point, Mary, Liz, from the employee side, it is a safe space to understand what it is that they need to be successful. But from the admin side from the hiring team side, they also are provided a robust, a lot of content and educational materials. So they know if their team comes to them. How are we supporting them? What is my company’s response to the Success Enablers? It really is it is benefiting both the admins and the employees.

Mary Liz McNamara 47:38

Christina Mallon 47:41
Love that. Well, thank you so much. This has been an amazing GAAD conversation. Very future forward. And I’m really hoping that this information here today helps not only employees, but HR managers, C suite, anyone within a business to create a better, more productive experience for their teams. And Michelle and I would love to talk to you if you wanted to talk about accommodations processes in your organization. We have a lot of ideas and as you can see, we really like to talk!

Michelle Witman 48:23
And we all have fun together right?

Christina Mallon 48:25
Oh yes fun is key. And our amazing marketing specialist, Tiffany, put a request for a demo within the chat. This will also come up within I believe on our website or through email our recording in case you want to share it with friends or colleagues or take a second listen. Well thank you so much, everybody and happy GAAD!

Mary Liz McNamara 48:57
Happy GAAD, bye bye. Take care all!

    Christina Mallon

    Christina Mallon

    Head of Inclusive Design, Microsoft

    Success Enablers
    Accessible Work Environment
    Extended Time

    Michelle Witman (She/Her)

    Michelle Witman (She/Her)

    Inclusively Accessibility Principal

    Mary Liz McNamara (She/Her)

    Mary Liz McNamara (She/Her)

    Inclusively Accessibility Principal

    Nataly Cardenas

    Nataly Cardenas

    Product Manager, Inclusively

    Success Enablers:
    Remote Work
    Emotional Support Animal
    Apps for Anxiety and Stress