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Axe Awards at axe-con 2021

At the inaugural year of axe-con, Deque’s conference about building accessible experiences, we felt it was important to not only bring together the accessibility community and provide free content but to highlight the organizations that are leaders in the field of accessibility.

We launched a program called axe awards, named after a well-known Deque open source project called axe-core. We are proud to announce the winners of the axe awards below so they are recognized for their outstanding work in accessibility and so members of the accessibility community can turn to them for advice when building their accessibility efforts.

PNC – Accessibility at Scale Award

Deque is proud to award PNC with the Accessibility at Scale award to recognize their unique accomplishment of scaling accessibility at their organization. PNC was able to spread accessibility adoption without accessibility solely being a compliance checkpoint, which is typical in most organizations. PNC is successfully educating its designers and developers to adopt accessibility early in the development process, i.e. the shift-left model for accessibility. Practicing accessibility in this manner has allowed them to quickly scale their efforts and form a mature accessibility program. This methodology did not come easily, it took a lot of hard operational work from Ben Allen and Kelly Gaertner, the accessibility leads at PNC. For that, we’d like to extend our sincere congratulations to the teams at PNC.

U.S. Bank – Most Diverse Adoption of Accessibility Award

The task of building an accessibility program takes heart and hustle. Using the accessibility policy created within U.S. Bank, the team behind accessibility put in a lot of time and effort to communicate with stakeholders across the company that accessibility is a must-have feature and inspired action towards adhering to policy within their teams with the support of process changes, tools, and documentation. Deque is very proud to award U.S. Bank with the Most Diverse Adoption of Accessibility Award, especially Matthew Luken, Derrin Evers, Heather Lee, Theresa West, and all those involved in building the program internally. The foundation this team has created is setting U.S. Bank up for success.

USAA – Longstanding Commitment to Accessibility Testing Award

We’re proud to award USAA with the Longstanding Commitment to Accessibility Award to recognize their efforts and leadership in the field of accessibility. USAA was one of the first companies to adopt accessibility testing into their testing pipeline across the entire enterprise. This accessibility testing effort has successfully set a foundation and is currently a catalyst for building a culture of accessibility across their organization. In fact, USAA is one of the few companies that has an onsite accessibility testing lab. Not only is USAA a leader in accessibility testing practices, but they are a great partner that has helped to drive innovation in our tools. We’re looking forward to seeing the great work and innovation that will come from the USAA accessibility efforts in the future.

Peloton – Usability and Accessibility Award

We are proud to award Peloton with the Usability and Accessibility Award for their outstanding research and testing efforts that went into adding Talkback to their Bikes. This usability study is not only groundbreaking for the fitness industry, but it has served as an exciting launching point for their accessibility program. In addition to this usability testing effort, Peloton committed to making their website accessible, a significant effort spearheaded by Jen Saper and the Ecomm team. Accessibility within Peloton is not just a compliance checkpoint, it is a momentous movement that excites their designers and developers. We’d like to specifically congratulate Be Birchall, Andrea Sutyak, Sabah Khan, and the User Research team, as they drove the usability study and gathered input from Peloton’s Member community and the American Council of the Blind. Congratulations again to the team at Peloton, we know that great achievements will come from your future research as you push the envelope for inclusive design.

Salesforce – axe Power-User Award

The Salesforce website teams are champions of using axe in their development process. Developers and designers use the power of automation to scale their internal accessibility efforts and shift accessibility left in the software development lifecycle. Not only are these teams regularly using axe, but they have taken training and furthered their education on how to use the tool to its fullest potential. Internally, teams have an “axe clean” motto – where code is not shipped until it runs zero issues with axe. We’re proud to award Salesforce with this award, especially Fred LeBlanc and Karen Milne, who have led this initiative internally.

Jim Thatcher Lifetime Achievement Award

In addition to the axe awards, we were proud to announce the Jim Thatcher Lifetime Achievement Award, which was chosen by axe-con attendees and recognizes an individual with an outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of accessibility.

JoAnna Hunt, Head of Accessibility, Amazon Books and Retail at Amazon, was the winner of this people’s choice award.

headshot of JoAnna Hunt

From JoAnna: “I’m so honored to be named the winner of this year’s Jim Thatcher Lifetime Achievement award from Deque. It seems fitting, so close to International Women’s Day, to say thank you to all of the incredible women who came before me, who inspired me, supported me, and helped to drive big changes around disability inclusion. I also #ChooseToChallenge and ask that we continue to see women put forward and recognized as leaders in this field. This is just the start for me. I will keep advocating for and driving big change as a supportive ally walking alongside the disability community until we build a world that is truly inclusive for everyone.”

Congratulations, JoAnna for winning this award. On behalf of the accessibility community, we thank you for being a leader by advocating and inventing delightful experiences for people with disabilities in some of the most fundamental aspects of life.

In Summary

Not only was this year’s axe-con momentous in size – being the largest known accessibility conference to date – but it highlights the astounding work that is happening by leaders and organizations in the field of accessibility. We can’t wait to bring back axe awards and the Jim Thatcher Lifetime Achievement Award at axe-con 2022.

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About Deque Systems

Deque (pronounced dee-cue) stands for digital equality. For over 20 years, our software, services and training have helped eliminate billions of accessibility barriers from websites, mobile apps and other digital content - improving the web for everyone, including people with disabilities.

We work with enterprise-level businesses and organizations to ensure that their sites and mobile apps are accessible. Our axe tools have been downloaded over one billion times by accessibility champions around the world. Our experts have implemented thousands of successful accessibility programs. Our training has impacted over a hundred thousand learners.

Deque is the digital accessibility industry standard.
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