This week's profile is the lovely and talented Caitlin Cashin: Marketing Assistant. At last, I can fulfill my lifelong dream of interviewing myself!
What do you do at Deque and how long have you been here?
I have been at Deque since the end of April, 2011. I was hired as a receptionist/admin. assistant and have since managed to carve out a place for myself as Tyler's marketing assistant.
How did you find Deque (or how did Deque find you)?
By chance! My degrees and background are in music/theatre and opera (with a one-year stint as a paralegal assistant). After completing my MA in Musicology in Cork, Ireland, I found myself unemployed for several months. Eventually I landed an interview at Deque, and the rest is history.
What is your favorite thing about working at Deque?
Well, the people are great. There are a lot of really interesting, enterprising, and committed people working at Deque. There's also a lot of room to grow here and to shape your own path and interests, which, as someone who came into this field from a totally divergent path, I really appreciate. But I think my favorite thing is that I had never even heard the term "web accessibility" before I applied for the job, and I've had so many opportunities and gotten to learn so much in the year that I've worked here. I'm lucky to be at Deque.
What interests you about accessibility?
Well, it's a really interesting subject. The more abstract, speculative, theoretical aspects are what really pique my interest. (Warning: this is about to get academic.) Accessibility issues really expose to what extent we take the ocular-centric experience of information (and of the world) for granted. The concept of "the gaze" is one of the dominant concepts of modern psychology as well as media and performance studies and any discipline that engages with Critical Theory, and the dominance of this concept depends on the assumption that our experiences and means of receiving information are primarily based on sight. Of course, for a significant part of the world's population, this is not the case. I once attended a lecture by a professor who was tracing a shift in modern French psychology and philosophy toward the primacy of aural experience (which she also related to feminism, but that's another interview). What would that mean for the internet? How essential is the visual element to experiencing the internet? Web design is such a hot topic right now, and, arguably, one cannot "authentically" experience a lot of web content without the visual element - what does that mean for users who can't experience the internet that way? What comes after the age of the designer? What are the media of the internet? How is the delivery of web content going to change in the future?
What current topic/debate in accessibility that has caught your eye?
Mobile accessibility. Until 2005 or so, it seems like the biggest changes in the internet and computer technology were related to speed and size, but they still revolved around the computer, whether desktop or laptop - something you sit down and dedicate most of your attention to using, as the principal device. With the rise of the smart phone (and the tablet, though they're not as ubiquitous and are kind of a hybrid of a laptop and a smart phone), people are using the internet differently than it was designed to be used, and everyone is running into accessibility issues. This brings a lot of exposure to the field of accessibility and gives people a little more empathy for people with disabilities who have to deal with hundreds of these issues every day. As new devices continue to be developed (until we're all living in Blade Runner!) the internet will continue to change, and our deeper understanding of information and experience are going to change with it.
Album: The Juliet Letters - Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet
Book: The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde
Luxury item: The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection (an audiobook of Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone reading Poe) and something with which to play it.