Seven axe award badges arranged in a circle

Axe Awards at axe-con 2022

Axe-con is about building accessible experiences, the mission of the conference is not only focused on bringing together the accessibility community and providing free content but to highlighting the organizations that are leaders in the field of accessibility.

Last year, we launched a program called axe awards, named after a well-known Deque open source project called axe-core. We are proud to announce this year’s 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. Please join us in celebrating their efforts.

Adobe – Accessibility at Scale Award

Deque is proud to award Adobe with the Accessibility at Scale award for their wide-reaching and mature accessibility efforts. Adobe has a top-notch team of extremely experienced accessibility experts led by Andrew Kirkpatrick, director of accessibility at Adobe. Their team provides support throughout the design and development process to foster accessibility in a large and complex product ecosystem. Adobe’s accomplishments include detailed and consistent testing and documentation process for accessibility. Additionally, their teams have a continued drive to improve accessibility in their overall process, including support for development teams. Practicing accessibility in this manner has allowed them to scale their efforts and form a mature accessibility program. Special thanks to Elle Waters, Jack Nicolai, Dinesh Yalagandula, Rakesh Paladugula, Damian Sian, and Rob Haverty for their hard work that led to this success.

Workday – axe Power User Award

Deque is proud to award Workday with the axe Power User Award for being champions of accessibility automation in their development process. Tom Sikora led their accessibility initiative, setting a vision of “a chicken in every pot,” so that everyone in the development process would have access to axe DevTools to test for accessibility. This effort started with their platform team and is now being implemented across the organization. Congratulations to Mary Roemmele, who is now managing the growing accessibility team. Special thanks to Ewen Chou and Pankaj Dekate for their hard work in this accessibility effort.

UserTesting – Organizational Commitment to Accessibility Award

Commitment to organizational change takes drive and dedication, UserTesting has proven just that in 2021. Their active engagement within every level of the organization has helped drive change for long-term commitment to improving accessibility. The team at UserTesting has launched multi-day awareness events, implemented tools and processes within their Product, Design, and Engineering organizations to support testing for Accessibility. In addition, they continue to build out metrics for measuring their efforts and are tirelessly dedicated to the continuous development of their accessibility roadmap for success. It is our honor to award UserTesting with the Organizational Commitment Award and a special thank you to Kaj van de Loo, Rafael Amorim, Natalie Russel, and Steven Glass for their leadership within UserTesting to their commitment to accessibility for good.

Ally Bank – Longstanding Commitment to Accessibility Award

The Longstanding Commitment to Accessibility Award recognizes those organizations whose efforts in the field of accessibility have deep and long-standing roots. Ally Bank’s efforts for accessibility over the years have continued to grow those roots and never waiver off the main goal of digital accessibility for all. Ally has continued to invest in expanding its team with a focus on driving compliance, training, and awareness to all areas of its organization. Ally has incorporated ongoing role-based training, not only with their new Technology team members but also with existing teams involved in the digital delivery to continue to build their knowledge base.  Ally also focuses on creating Awareness Labs, messaging, and activities to ensure the message and importance of digital accessibility is carried throughout all areas of the organization.

In addition, Ally is always keeping innovation top of mind and developing new ways to bring further depth to incorporating accessibility at all levels of the design, development, and QA lifecycles. We are excited to continue to partner with Ally Bank and be a part of the change they continue to lead the drive in over the years.

REI – Accessibility Culture Award

REI Co-op has been putting people over profit since 1938. Three years ago, they set out to put their values in action with an accessibility initiative that aims to enable inclusive participation for all online, in-store, and outside.

From the start, REI recognized and acted on a need to build empathy, knowledge, and engagement for accessibility across their organization. Today, their accessibility initiative continues to receive strong support from employees, customers, and leaders, alike.

A special thanks to Donna Watson, who helped jump-start the journey, and Eric Hess, Cooper Hollmaier, Michael Hewson, KJ Schmidt, and Harmony Hames for leading the accessibility effort throughout the pandemic. Deque is proud to award REI Co-op for its strong accessibility culture across the organization, and we commend you for keeping the mission of digital equality a priority.

CDC – Commitment to Accessibility in the Public Sector Award

The CDC’s strong commitment to accessibility tools and training has been consistent and commendable, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fast Access Program at the CDC regularly rolls out automated tooling and training to their development teams across the agency. This ongoing effort shifts accessibility left before content and systems are pushed into production. Deque is proud to award the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the “Commitment to Accessibility in the Public Sector” award, most specifically to Mark Urban for his leadership in building a sustainable and effective Accessibility Program.

US Bank – Native Mobile Accessibility Award

Deque is proud to award U.S. Bank the Native Mobile Accessibility Award for their commitment to native mobile accessibility. In their ongoing commitment, the team embraces the shift left mentality by embedding accessibility testing into their development process at multiple levels. Additionally, they require a clean accessibility scan at two separate “gates” to consider a development task complete. By rolling out axe DevTools Mobile to 831 developers, U.S. Bank prevents countless accessibility issues from being committed to their codebase. We’d like to congratulate the entire native mobile development team– specifically John Scrivner, Harsh Pandey, and Semal Maniyar– who lead this effort from the Technical Operations Digital Accessibility Team.

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.

Lainey Feingold, a disability rights lawyer, and an author, was the winner of this people’s choice award.

headshot of Lainey FeingoldFrom Lainey: “Thank you Deque and Axe-Con for this recognition. It is an honor for me to get an award named for Jim Thatcher, a foundational digital accessibility champion who was a personal friend and mentor. If anyone is not familiar with Jim and his many contributions to our field and community, here is something I wrote about Jim after his death in 2019.

It has been my great privilege to be part of the global digital accessibility community for more than 25 years. My gratitude to everyone, in so many roles, working every day to create and maintain an accessible digital world where disabled people are fully included.”

Congratulations, Lainey for winning this award. On behalf of the accessibility community, we thank you for advocating for disability rights and promoting relationship building in the name of accessibility.

Thank you for also being a tireless pillar in the community – speaking, educating, and pushing the needle for digital accessibility.

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.


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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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