Welcome to episode 33 of the Technology in Human Services podcast. In this episode I speak with Miyuki Fukuma of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).
Miyuki has worked for over 20 years as a web User Interface (UI)/User Experience (UX) Designer, focused on Human Centred Design, Digital Accessibility, and open source projects. Since 2018 Miyuki has brought her expertise to the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector at OCASI.
In this conversation we cover a lot of interesting ground related to sector technology development, the need for tech human resources in our sector and how we can actually afford those positions, technology sustainability that impacts how technology is funded, digital communication, and a good chunk of time on accessibility.
The discussion about accessibility is an important one for us in the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector. In part because there are provincial and emerging federal laws related to digital accessibility. In part because making our services more accessible, more broadly defined, should be something we’re all committed to, but may not know as much or be doing as much as we should be in this area. For example, we understand language and cultural accessibility, but don’t seem to apply that lens to other types of accessibility. We can do more work there. And, as Miyuki outlines, much accessibility testing needs to happen manually. The online and digital accessibility testing and assessment tools can only get us about 25% of the way there. That’s a huge revelation to me. I admittedly have much to learn here as well.
Here are some of the initial questions we used to guide our conversation:
Some useful resources
Digital Projects vs Products
Video: How to effectively plan your next digital project
User/Human-Centred Design being used in various non-technical contexts
What follows is an AI-generated transcript of our conversation using Otter.ai. The transcript has not been edited. It may contain errors and odd sentence breaks and is not a substitute for listening to the audio.
Marco Campana 0:00
Welcome to Episode 33 of the technology and human services podcast. In this episode I speak with Miyuki Fukuma of the Ontario Council of agency serving immigrants, OCASI, Miyuki has worked for over 20 years as a web user interface or UI user experience or UX designer focused on human centered design, digital accessibility and open source projects. Since 2018, Miyuki has brought her expertise to the immigrant and refugee serving sector at OCASI. In this conversation, we cover a lot of interesting ground related to Sector technology development, the need for tech human resources in our sector, and how we can actually afford those positions. Technology sustainability that impacts how technology is funded and rolled out in our agencies, and a good chunk of time on accessibility. The discussion about accessibility is an important one for us and the immigrant and refugee serving sector, in part because there are provincial and emerging federal laws related to digital accessibility that we need to be adhering to, in part because making our services more accessible, broadly defined should be something we’re all committed to, but may not know as much or be doing as much as we should be in this area. For example, we understand language and cultural accessibility, but don’t seem to apply that lens to other types of accessibility. We can do more work there. And as Miyuki outlines more accessibility testing needs to happen manually. The online and digital accessibility testing and assessment tools can only get us about 25% of the way there. That was a huge revelation for me. And I admittedly have much to learn here as well. So I think you’ll find this a useful, insightful and important conversation very relevant to your work. I hope you find it interesting.
Marco Campana 1:35
Welcome, Miyuki to the technology Human Services podcast. Thank you so much for joining me. Please take a few minutes to tell us a little bit about yourself your professional background, and including what brought you to the immigrant and refugee serving sector.
Miyuki Fukuma 1:48
Sure. Thanks for inviting me Marco. Um, yeah, so my name is Miyuki Fukuma. I’m a second generation Japanese Canadian. I live in Toronto, Canada, born and bred in Toronto, Canada. So my background is I’m a web UI UX designer. So but UI means user interface UX means user experience. And so I specialize in doing that kind of design for the web. Mostly. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Now it turns out, which is kind of scary. But
Marco Campana 2:23
yes, anniversary. Yay. So I
Miyuki Fukuma 2:27
have been doing this for quite a long time, mostly working with either academic institutions or nonprofits. Yeah, so that’s, that’s my background. And as a designer, so I mean, web designers, there’s different types, right? So my area of specialty is using principles of human centered design. And also, I also tend to specialize more in things like digital accessibility and open source type projects. So that’s my background. So what brought me to the sector, so I’m very new to the sector, I came to this sector. And 2018, I joined Kazi, to help out with their project, which eventually became settled net.org. I came on as a web designer for that project. And I was on that project until last September, so that’s tember 2021. And then I’m now UX design and web development cord coordinator in the ITN digital services team at okezie. So, yes, I’m still very new to the sector. I’m still learning.
Marco Campana 3:42
Yeah. So you’ve got your hands on all of OCASI’s digital products now, basically, in terms of from a design and usability perspective. Um,
Miyuki Fukuma 3:52
I can see all the projects now. I don’t know if I have all my hands on them. But I got my headphones on. But yes, but I can better overview now of all the projects I had, because he has at least Yes,
Marco Campana 4:03
yeah, cuz I can imagine they could all they’ll benefit from a good Human Centered Design Overview and just sort of bringing your expertise and your perspective to them. Because a lot of them are serving the sector or newcomers directly, right. Yes. Yeah. Exactly. So want to dive in, starting with a quote, you and I had a bit of an exchange on settlement thought or basis of practice. And I thought it was really I mean, well, we’ve talked for a while about a lot of different things in terms of here. And there. We talked about different pieces of technology in the sector, and things that we’re missing things that we’re doing well, but I thought this was a really fun back back, back and forth that kind of led to this conversation because I wanted to explore it some more. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna start with that. And, and then we’ll kind of dive in from there. So basically, you wrote that, you find that the sector often talks too much about a very limited and sometimes outdated list of specific technologies without talking first about the specific problem that needs to be solved. And it’s exploring what currently exists in terms of possible solutions. And first, not every problem needs a technical solution. And I myself, am always more than willing to suggest such solutions if necessary. Second, if the problem does need a technical solution, we’re actually long past the days where one needs to be locked into one specific technology, build a tool from scratch, etc. In my experience, part of the issue is that those writing the funding proposals for projects with potential technical implications know very little about the current global technical and digital landscape. So they aren’t always proposing the most effective solutions, nor asking for the most realistic amounts of funds, it would be great to see more people in the sector consulting technical or digital experts from outside the sector, when putting together such funding proposals instead of trying to do everything internally. And I feel like you, you packed a lot in there. That’s all true in my experience, and what the research is showing us in particular over the last few years, where we’ve done a lot of research on the sector and technology innovation. But I want to start by unpacking just by forgetting, you know, the, the, the the external expertise, but what are some of the things that leaders and organizations need to start learning? What do they need to know when they’re moving forward, because we’re not going away from technology. So what are some of the things they should know more about in terms of figuring out how to bring it into their organizations,
Miyuki Fukuma 6:20
and manage it. Um, so like I said, I’m new to the sector. And also, my experience probably is mostly limited to my organization okezie. So I don’t know if this applies to all organizations. But I find at least in our organization, like technology, or digital things are still kind of, they’re more of a service, they’re not really a part of the work. So it’s sort of like leaders or staff come to the ITN digital services team and lokasi, for example, when they run into not problems. So maybe moving away from that, but bringing, like even the leader of the ITN digital services in earlier on, when thinking about projects, I think would really change things because that at least helps the other leaders from having to know everything about what’s happening in the technical, what’s happening technically, like just around the world or digitally around the world. You know, there’s already expertise there that can be leveraged. So I think, yeah, I think maybe leaders changing their approach
Marco Campana 7:27
to the notion of embedding. Yes, embedding
Miyuki Fukuma 7:29
more leaders, I think, also need to realize that I mean, this might be it might be a bit extreme, but at least thinking Digital First, for any of their projects. Because the other thing, so I that’s it’s kind of mentioned in the post that you mentioned, but the other thing was like technology and digital these days, it’s not just one piece of technology, or, or one digital channel that needs to be used, it’s usually a combination now. So if like, you have projects where it says, well, in use of a website, and a website needs to do this, but actually you do, if you have a website, you also have XYZ you have to think about, and also the people writing the content for your website also need to know that communicating digitally is different from communicating versus via other more traditional channels that are probably been used in the sector for a long time. So I think leaders need to realize that more of the projects probably need to be thought, like conceptualized Digital First, when you’re staffing these projects, like you need to think more about, like what are the digital skills that your staff need? Especially not just about how to use technology, but also about, well, no, not about like the practical parts of technology, but also like digital communication type skills that’s slightly different from I think, communication skills that have been expected until now. So I think leaders need to realize, realize how, in general, I think the way people consume information and things like that has really changed. So, yeah, yeah, no, I
Marco Campana 8:59
mean, that’s sort of the digital softer skills in some ways, because like you’re saying, I mean, the the hard skills like the tech itself, if I need to use Zoom, or WhatsApp or telegram or a CRM, as a staff person, I mean, I can get trained on that I can learn those those sorts of hard skills. It’s, you don’t need to have it innately but but the soft skills come a little bit differently. I feel like it’s well. So I mean, I guess, to the, for leaders to appreciate that. Do they also have to start developing those those skills? Like I guess what is a digital first mentality mean from a leadership perspective, when when they’re looking at the organization?
Miyuki Fukuma 9:39
I think I think I guess that would start with if you have technical or digital leaders already in your organization, to bring them more into the conversations instead of having them be like to the service team, or service department in your organization. Yeah, I think I think it could probably start there because I do know from from being part of a kasi that a lot of the times the projects are conceptualized without consulting the 18, digital services team leader, and then they come to the team saying, oh, we need this. And from our point of view, it’s a little bit too late by that point to do things well. So, you know, we can do things for you like we can help you achieve what you’re trying to achieve. But it would have been things would have probably gone more efficiently if that we had been consulted earlier. So I think definitely bringing them in not seeing them as just a service department. But so that might help other digital first. Yeah, I can’t think of like, definitely, when you’re putting in a proposal, I think definitely bringing in the digital leaders and asking their opinion. On what could be different there. Yeah, for sure.
Marco Campana 10:54
Yeah, I mean, I am curious, I mean, even an organization like Ocasio, where you do have a good like it and immediate department. And I know, there aren’t that many that do. But there are some that that why we still have this sort of sense of separation of it not being needed at the table initially, to help kind of form the idea, instead of just responding to an idea that that could have been morphed differently. Or, or like you say, for example, someone may say, oh, we need Salesforce, because we’ve decided on a CRM, but what they need is something that’s more of a, you know, for lack of a better word, more federated, or like more more different moving pieces, because as you said earlier, like creating a website has other implications for other parts of your work and things like that. And if you don’t understand the technology fully, you might not necessarily know how you’re limiting yourself, or what else is possible. So bringing, bringing that perspective in earlier makes sense from from a logic perspective, I wonder, Is it Is it fear that the it is going to take over? Is it you know, is it because we just treat them as a service, and don’t see them as needed at the ground level kind of thing. I mean, I used to deal with this. And in communications when I was on a communications team, and we eventually got to the point where we would we would be there at the beginning at the very beginning of the conversation, because communications was going to be a part of we weren’t forming the project for them. But we were we were figuring out what they wanted to do so that we could, you know, earlier in the process, say, well, here’s how we can communicate that are here are your stakeholders, do you understand them fully, like, you know, go through that process? And, and I felt it made a huge difference, because we weren’t just responding at the end, did you think about these 20 things? And then of course, the answer is no. And so you’re back to the drawing board in some ways, whereas if it had been there from the beginning, and so these days, it’s it’s comps and it that need to be kind of at that table. Yes,
Miyuki Fukuma 12:39
yes. And I mean, traditionally, comps and it I think, have been service, you know, it’s just that’s the way it wasn’t, it worked for a while, I think, but now, now things have changed that it doesn’t quite work that way anymore. So I think leaders may be realizing, realizing that and now things have changed. Like even when I was saying that, you know, when you have to when you want a website, it’s not just the website now that you need, having just a website used to work. I mean, it’s just it doesn’t work anymore. Unfortunately, things have changed. Things have gotten more complicated, really. So I think maybe leaders realizing that would also help. So let’s
Marco Campana 13:18
unpack that a little bit. So when you say just a website, because you’re right. I mean, a lot of places are brochure websites, here’s information about our programs. And you can contact us to this form or this email address. When you say a website is more than that. Now, there needs to be what do you what are you referring to what do you what, what more does it need to be?
Miyuki Fukuma 13:35
Well, this comes up a lot when we talk about promoting the website. So it’s not. It’s not like, you build it and they will come they won’t come if you just because you build it right, you have to promote it. And then so it comes down to how are you going to promote this website. And now you have to go to various digital channels to promote it, for example, if you’re targeting. So some of our some of Kathy’s websites, anyhow, their information and referral type what what information and information referral, I think type websites for newcomers. So in order for. So up until now, they’ve been I think, handing out flyers to newcomers that arrive at Pearson Airport, for example. And I went to some other totally unrelated meetup. And there was a newcomer there. She was from India, she was relatively young. And so we were talking about other things. And I just casually said, Have you heard of she was talking about how she was she didn’t realize it would take her so long to get quote, unquote, settled into life in Toronto. And so I turned her and he said, Have you ever heard of settlement.org? And she said, she said she received a bunch of paper when she first arrived. So I think she was referring to the brochures that she see, but she didn’t formation overwhelmed, right? Yeah, she tossed all of it. And she was trying to Google everything. So you’re not Reaching your audience that way. So you need. So like, you need to think about how are you they’re going to come to your website. And it’s unfortunately, much more complicated because there’s so many channels that people use to get their information. And then it’s also the language issue with newcomers. Right? Because I think I think refugee 613 They did. Is that the right name? Yeah. out of Ottawa. Yeah. Yes. Right. Yeah. So they just said, they’ve been doing research around how new how newcomers are getting the information. And so it’s been, it’s been interesting how they do tend to go to their cultural, you know, more language specific channels to get their information. So those are, those are things it’s like, it’s not just the website, you need to think about how you’re going to promote. And sometimes promoting has to go nowadays, it has to go beyond Oh, we have this website, like, because especially on the web, well, there’s a lot of digital things, there’s a trust factor. So you have to think about how you’re going to build trust and get them to actually, like, there’s so much information out there. People need to be able to make the decision of is this a source of information I can trust? Or why would I go here versus this other place? So it’s not you can’t just say we have a website, come here. It’s like, we have a web, we have a website, it will answer these needs that you have. You know, this is why we’re better than the competition kind of thing. So there’s, there’s more there involved already to do. And I know like, especially after the pandemic started, I think, visits to some of our websites has dropped.
Marco Campana 16:43
That’s interesting. So digital ended and it visits went down. That’s fascinating.
Miyuki Fukuma 16:48
Yeah, well, I think the other thing is because people started going maybe more digital, they started finding other places. And maybe so that’s the other thing. We’ve noticed this, but we haven’t been able to like sit down and analyze why this is happening. So that’s, yeah. But But yeah, like, we’re, it’s kind of strange to think about competition when we’re in like a nonprofit sector, right? Where it’s very community driven. But unfortunately, competition is an issue, especially when you’re on digital, because there’s just informations coming from everywhere. And to the average person, it just seems like, you know, the same level of information. So you have to really, you have to, you have to really make it obvious that you are a trusted source and you you are meeting their needs. So,
Marco Campana 17:36
yeah, I’m curious with your with your sort of human centered design and UI and UX hats on? How can how, what’s your approach to try to kind of rise above the fray, like from a design perspective, or from understanding the for lack of a better word, the end user, the visitor of the website? What? What are some of those cues? What are some of the nudges that you can build into a site or into communications, to help kind of convey those messages really quickly? Because I mean, attention spans are at an all time low, they say,
Miyuki Fukuma 18:08
well, one thing is, um, how do I put this one thing is look at what the, your quote unquote, competition is doing. So first of all, don’t be too smug about your website, you are probably not the only one doing what you’re doing. There’s someone else out there doing something similar. And so go look for them and see what they’re doing. And if they’re doing something, well, then definitely copy it, you know, don’t reinvent the wheel. Also, being aware of where your audience is online, at least, that’s really important. So like, for example, settlement.org, is targeted at people that are working in the settlement sector across Canada. So one place where work related conversations or professional level related conversations happen is on LinkedIn. So in a way, going on LinkedIn, LinkedIn, where people are, and like being involved in the conversations there, that really helps to, like that can help to promote the site more. But just going in and saying, Hey, we have this site is not enough. You need to take the time to get involved in these conversations and show that show that you’re one of them in a way, I guess. So.
Marco Campana 19:27
Become part of the community. And yes, yeah. Yeah. So it’s, yeah, I mean, it’s interesting. It’s not just about your own property, but it’s going to the properties of others, or even third parties, like you say, like LinkedIn, and finding the people and then helping them see how you might help them over here on your property kind of thing, or if not how you can help them in their space, I guess. Yeah, exactly. Interesting. Um, I want to shift gears a little bit. I know that you’re newer to the sector, but we’ve had some conversations about kind of the state of the of tech in the sector, and some of the things that we should be thinking about. And you mentioned In digital accessibility, we talk a lot about interoperability and things like that. Digital Accessibility isn’t, I would say getting much sort of, I made a list recently of tech we’re not talking about, and that was certainly one of them. And I know that it’s, it’s something you’ve talked about, and you have both expertise and, and interest in. So can you tell me a little bit about what we what service organizations service nonprofits, like immigrant and refugee serving organizations need to be thinking about when it comes to digital accessibility? Not just websites, but just the entire approach for how they do digital?
Miyuki Fukuma 20:36
So just just digital accessibility, or just accessibility in general,
Marco Campana 20:40
I guess accessibility in general, with with with, you know, an edge on digital, since that’s kind of a focus. Yeah, um, but if it’s, if it’s, but yeah, maybe it needs to start with an accessibility perspective. And then how that impacts digital.
Miyuki Fukuma 20:56
Yeah, so. So one thing, so I’m in Ontario and Ontario, we do have some legislation around that call the EO, da. I think it’s accessibility for Ontario’s Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It’s not being enforced very much. So I think that’s also the reason why it’s not getting a lot of traction, even in organizations in Ontario, but, um, like organization, sins in the sector in Ontario. But I think, I think, I think organization like so there’s also the accessibility accessible Canada Act coming soon as well. And I think some provinces also have similar legislation, like the ODA and the provinces. So so there are legal requirements coming down the pipe eventually. So I think getting into legal issues is one thing that settlement agencies definitely want to avoid. I mean, they have other things to concentrate on. So I think, I think there’s some urgency there. Um, accessibility, at least from my point of view, like this is, this is a really broad way of putting it is, but it’s just making sure that the information you’re putting out, anybody everywhere can expect access it and make use of it. So like, we talked about various methodologies for making information accessible on the web, at least in the digital accessibility realm. But really, what it boils down to is say you do have content, like, say, on your website, that’s not accessible to somebody, you know, if someone emails you and says, Hey, I’m really interested in this information that you have, but I can’t read it, or I can’t download or whatever, like, how quickly can you respond to that request. So but so when you really boil it down, it means having the staffing to be able to figure out why this person is having this problem. And then try and make change that, however, that information is packaged into a way that this person can access it, it could be just one person. But I mean, I think at the end of the day, that’s what accessibility is. I mean, we tend to talk more about people with disabilities when it comes to accessibility. But it’s, it’s not just people with like, you know, really clear cut disabilities. A really good example is a mother, who, you know, a mother who works during the day, who has two kids, she has to look care, take care of and cook for when she gets back. When she finishes the workday like she’s really busy. Nine and a 10 is really distracted because the kids are, you know, yelling in the background and whatever. Like we’re dealing with a person here, for example, whose attention span is very short, but they need certain types of information, how do we make sure that they get this information? So it’s just being aware that it starts with awareness? Really? I don’t know. Does that answer your question?
Marco Campana 23:52
Yeah, no, I think I think in terms of broad strokes, that’s essential, right? It’s understanding the accessing, because you’re right. I think when people talk about accessibility, they think of screen readers like from a digital perspective, I think of screen readers and magnifiers. And things that are for people who, who might have challenges accessing, you know, in the same way that they might think of a ramp at an office as an accessibility tool. But but not how someone’s greeted as making something feel accessible, for example, or for someone who’s working outside of who can’t access your app, your office hours, how can you make information accessible to them in the right way in the right channel in a meaningful context kind of thing. So, so yeah, I mean, it’s I think broadening that perspective maybe helps people think about it from an information and referral perspective, from a service perspective that you’ve tried to meet somebody where they are. Yeah, and they may have certain barriers, whether they’re physical or unseen, or, you know, different informational, for example. So I think that’s a really interesting way to look at it. Are there any things around digital accessibility that AODA or other things so When we’re talking about like, how can I make my website or my communications more accessible, for example, you know, all text and images or text on social media images, they’re little things that can make something much more accessible, but they require intention, you have to understand how to do it, why you do it, and then you have to actually do it. Right.
Miyuki Fukuma 25:19
I guess, I guess the challenging thing. So um, yeah, the challenging thing is that accessibility isn’t really the responsibility of one department, for example, for example, Cassie has the IT and Digital Services Department, accessibility is not just departments responsibility, like, like, even just digital accessibility, it’s the entire organization’s responsibility, getting staff to realize that, and then unfortunately, it is a little bit more work to have digital accessibility or just being aware of more accessible communications, there’s training involved, there’s retraining, and you have to continue doing the training. So, um, and I think, I think this is going to be a challenge for the entire sector, if this is, if this is the case, because like, a lot of agencies already don’t have a lot of time, or, you know, people working in a sector are trying to get training just in their area of work as it is, and now they have this on top of it. So there’s a huge challenge about how, how this is going to fit in into the current, like people’s work right now. But like, it even boils down to how you write or how you write your emails, for example, like, Are you writing in a clear fashion? There are a lot of people in the sector where English isn’t their first language. So that’s, that poses another barrier to so I, I’ve thought about I’ve thought about this because we’re trying to figure out how to how to make the communications more accessible just O’Casey. And, yeah, there are a lot of challenges. And I don’t have all the answers. I mean, we have a working group to try and figure out these things. So we are sort of slowly working our way through trying to figure out how to do this. But yeah, it’s like, unfortunate. Yeah, it’s there. Yeah, there’s a lot of challenges. In the way right now, I mean, there are simple things that you can do like the alt text and color contrast and things you’re talking about. But a lot of accessibility digital accessibility checks are, you actually have to test them manually, you can’t just get a machine to test something, the accessibility is something like, I think you can only get about 25% of the accessibility issues can be picked up by a machine. So they’re like checklist items, everything else, you kind of have to go through your content, for example. And like, ideally, you would test it on someone with certain various disabilities or whatnot. But, um, and that’s the thing that people don’t realize, like, we’ve had people out organization asked for checklists. And it’s like, yes, we can give you a checklist, but it’s only going to pick up about 25% of the issues you might have. So how are you going to test the other 75%?
Marco Campana 28:05
Yeah, I mean, it sounds like there’s a huge piece around education, but also resources. So if 75% of it requires having people who are affected by that you need to have the right people to do the right tests. And that might mean different people, like you might have to do 10 different tests with 10 different people. Because if it’s a font issue or a color issue, different people will be impacted by that difference. You’re not going to have like the one person who’s going to do all your tests for you kind of thing. So yes, exactly. And then And yeah, so I mean, there’s resources, there’s times there’s just under that there’s literacy and understanding how to do all of that. So on the one hand, you can kind of see why people haven’t done it. But on the other hand, if it’s if it’s legislated at some point, someone’s going to take that legislation seriously. And then we’ll all be scrambling to kind of do it. So it comes kind of back to some of the the funding proposal stuff you mentioned, as well, like, you know, there’s there’s a myriad of issues there. But at what point is that a pan sectoral responsibility that needs to be driven by a funder who can kind of say, for our fight, like I’m thinking IRCC funds, 500 agencies, they could impose a standard that is paid for with with with the right kind of resourcing, or else you’re going to have this kind, especially I guess, if there’s a Canadian Accessibility Act that’s coming up, because right now they are provincial. So they, they might be different enough that an argument can be made that you can’t have a pan Canadian, but if there is a national standard, at the very least, someone could say, Okay, you must meet this minimum standard, and we are going to fold it the next year, we will budget you will resource you in a way to accomplish that. And in that process, you’ll learn how to do it yourself after and have staff who are either competent or will fund partial staff budgets to have people come in and do that on a regular basis or whatever the case might be. So it’s not like there’s on the one hand, it’s here it exists. We should be doing it. But there are a lot of other resource and related allocation issues that seem to kind of just stop it in its tracks really?
Miyuki Fukuma 30:08
Yeah. And I mean, the other thing is, I guess the other challenge is, when you come into the sector, there’s no one like academic channel to come into the sector. So if, for example, so I design websites by but I have a degree in Nutritional Sciences. So political science right here, yeah. Okay, there you go. But yeah, that’s another story for another day. But um, but I remember when I was like, one of my courses was about how to, like, for example, create brochures for community and nutrition kind of things. So, you know, it’s a BSC, but they’re trying to give you communication skills as well. I mean, it’s not a huge, it wasn’t really in depth course. But at least it gives you a fundamental background, at least get you started, if you want to go further into that kind of area. Um, so yeah, so we talked a little bit about design and also a little bit about, you know, how you should write your content. So it’s easy to understand, like, if there was, I know, there are some programs that are for people that want to come into this sector. So if even those would include a little bit about accessibility, like just about accessible communications, and digital community, it’s going back a little bit to what we were talking about earlier, about the digital communication skill as well. I think even that would go a long way. For sure.
Marco Campana 31:30
Yeah, I mean, I think it just increasingly makes sense that, you know, people need to come in with a certain a changing skill set, yes, into the work. But something that’s also consistent. Because all the people come into the sector from with a lived experience background, not necessarily going through the education. They may have been volunteers, they have the language skills, they have the natural aptitude. So that’s, that’s one method. And other is for sure, formal education, I kinda get Seneca College that has as part of their social service worker, program and immigrant and refugee serving worker stream. So you could formally put something in there, but then it’ll still be up to organizations to either figure out that they have those skills, and then to train the people who come in from the other streams, that non formal education streams. Yeah. And so I think, if there’s like a dualla live duality, because then you’ve got people coming in with a certain expertise. And ideally, we’d kind of fused them together, right? The person with the lived experience can help the person who maybe doesn’t have it, but can through a formal experience. And that person can help the person with the lived experience, learn more about accessibility and how to do that. Yeah, that would help. And that will be interesting. But again, it’ll be inconsistent, because you won’t always have that mix at an organization. So figuring out those, those baselines would be really interesting. This is great. There’s so much in this in this part that I don’t think our sector talks a lot about when it comes to accessible communications and accessible information. And I mean, digital, again, we kind of, we tend to kind of look at the tip of the iceberg and are like, Okay, well, our colors are, aren’t that contrast, and our font is large enough or changeable. So you can make it large. And, you know, a screen reader doesn’t have any problems. So we’ve got the checklist. And then there’s the 75%, below the below the surface that they haven’t necessarily thought about plus the other things that you described that aren’t digital related, that are still related to accessibility.
Miyuki Fukuma 33:17
Yeah. And really, I think the settlement sector is maybe more equipped, or more ready to do things to think about accessibility, I think a lot of them are already a lot of people are already thinking about accessibility without realizing they’re thinking about it. Because I mean, even during the, especially during the pandemic, when things started going digital, people were talking about how some people don’t have access to computers, or, you know, they’re stuck at home, like, a lady might be a lady newcomer might be stuck at home, looking after kids, and there’s one shared computer or a tablet or something between all of them. Like that’s an accessibility issue right there. And people have had to think about how they’re going to do the work that they’ve done until now. With with clients that I guess they’re referred to as clients, right, I guess, yeah. Yeah. So we’re working with clients in those kinds of circumstances. So, um, and the other thing is, so language barrier can also be accessibility issue. And like, we’ve been saying a lot of people in the sector, English is not their first language, and they’re coming with lived experience as newcomers to Canada. So, um, people are probably already including accessibility tactics in their work, they just don’t realize it. So I think I would think that the sector in general has a pretty good foundation actually for doing more of this kind of stuff. So
Marco Campana 34:40
yeah, I mean, it feels like it’s also very ad hoc, then if it’s the individual worker trying to kind of figure out how to resolve those accessibility issues. The question, I guess, then is how does that get formalized in an organization? Right? Do they talk to their colleagues who talk to their manager and they all realize they’ve got the same accessibility challenges, but they’re going on them? They’re, they’re addressing them individually? Could there be something You know, organizationally, at the very least, can they stuck? And is there the time for that? You know, I always find that in the life of a settlement worker, it’s it’s a lot of band aids, a lot of fixes, but not a lot of time to reflect and to kind of systematize things, which would be interesting as well. And so useful, but, but typically, they don’t have that time.
Miyuki Fukuma 35:22
Yeah, that is that that seems to be the major challenge in Yeah, especially when I was worth doing work on settlement.org. Like, so I got to talk to some people in the sector, or talk to people who used to work in the sector, and comment constantly coming up the time, and you don’t have time for that don’t have time for this, it’s and that’s, that’s concerning, because it means like, being busy is good, it means that your, your work is required in society, that’s great. But also, if you don’t have the time to even sit down and process some of the things that are happening in the sector or even at your organization. Like there’s, there’s having not enough time, and then there’s not having definitely not having enough time, if that makes
Marco Campana 36:04
sense. It does. They’re like qualitatively different enough. Yeah,
Miyuki Fukuma 36:08
yeah. Like, um, and like we talked about, also, like we need, this is also certain that you need to be innovative, and because things are constantly changing, but if people don’t have time to even process their day to day work, then you don’t have time, you don’t have the bandwidth to you don’t have the mental capacity, I think, to even innovate. So it’s kind of counterproductive to the nature of the work in a way.
Marco Campana 36:31
Yeah. And I mean, it comes back in some ways, like doing human centered design work, you have to build reflection into that process as you’re learning things. Right. So I guess, that you’re right in the research has been telling us this with frontline workers, and particularly, they don’t have that cycle. It’s like do do figure it out, apply it to your situation, but can just continue doing. And so there is kind of like a small cycle of evaluation in the sense that, oh, that worked. So maybe it’ll work with the rest of my clients. But they’re not given the opportunity to, to check that to work with other people in their organization to figure out maybe they came up with a different solution, or someone in another organization has come up with an interesting solution to a similar problem. And they can learn from that kind of thing. So but their their natural kind of innovative skill. And, you know, the jack of all trades for settlement workers in particular is, keeps them moving along. But that it’s that that little bit of reflection that might give them some extra time to to actually improve and create things like more accessible information services and things like that really interesting. Really interesting. So I guess, I don’t have a ton more questions, because I thought, This isn’t how I necessarily saw this would go. But this is a really interesting conversation, okay, focused on focused on accessibility, because I think what you’re raising is something that is, is not an is one of those areas that’s not been fully addressed. In our sector, it’s not been a fulsome conversation. And in a digital first mentality, what we’re trying to build in things like human centered design, where we’re trying to build a space for reflection, accessibility seems like increasingly important. And again, very broadly, right, like you’ve included physical accessibility, the digital divide in that all of those things have an impact on someone’s ability to access services. And I think, even beyond the scope of AODA, thinking about a sector accessibility kind of mandate should encompass all of those kinds of pieces. And if we make it our own, it includes the the physical stuff, the AODA, the legislative stuff, but we also can kind of go beyond and as you describe, recognize that there’s a natural accessibility mentality in the sector already. So how do we harness that? Right? How can we build off of that? So I assume you’re working group is an internal one right now?
Miyuki Fukuma 38:43
Yes, it is internal? Yeah.
Marco Campana 38:44
Do you know if this conversation is happening, even on subtle net.org, or in other spaces in the sector, when we’re looking at accessibility? Is it mean I see pockets of it, but they’re very small, they’re usually project based. They’re not like, just overall conversation that someone got some money to do work on accessibility. And then a year later, it’s done. I wonder if this is a conversation that should be happening.
Miyuki Fukuma 39:07
Um, I personally agree that it, it should be a conversation that’s happening at a broader level. So yeah, our the working group is internal. And we can only make recommendations. So if people don’t have time to take on those recommendations, and they don’t, because it’s not, you know, it’s not in their IRCC agreement, for example, right for a project. I mean, because he does have the Accessibility Initiative Project, which is also national. So I think, I think that’s a more formalized channel of trying to bring this as an accessibility question to the entire sector, for sure. But, um, yeah, for example, so there is a sort of Kathy’s done because he has these annual events, right for sector. They are I think it’s at once every year, like I know, once every two years like there’s Leaders Forum, and then there’s the PD conference. So the last two times they’ve been done online because of the pandemic. And so we were using an online platform, third party platform. And one problem with one issue with the platform is they’re just not accessible. And so there’s a Slack group for access to digital accessibility, which is like, there’s people from all over the world. And so this is a conversation about accessible event platforms has been a converse ongoing conversation on there, which I will not get into. It’s quite complicated. But anyhow, yeah, so we were using this, we’re using this inaccessible platform. Of course, the question is, well, what are the ones that are accessible? And that’s, that’s a very good question, which everyone’s trying to figure out. Um, but we were we noticed that other people in the sector, like, not just in Ontario, but in other provinces, were also using this platform. Prop maybe because because he started using it, or maybe just because everyone keeps ending up with the same same ending up with the same vendor. I don’t know. But so we were saying, well, maybe we could get together with some of these other organizations who have used them. And like, I don’t know, lobby, the lobby, the third party vendor. You know, saying, Look, your products not accessible would be great if you guys could work on this kind of thing. But unfortunately, there are other priorities. So that really didn’t go anywhere. So it was an idea that came up within the working group. But yeah, it didn’t really gain traction outside of the working group, unfortunately. But it’s definitely think, unfortunately, accessibility in a way these days is sort of a buzzword as well. So a lot of for profit services and whatnot, are also getting on the accessibility bandwagon, as you might want to call it. Um, and if there, when you get profit, profit, kind of for like, for profit companies getting involved in this stuff, I think it becomes more difficult as nonprofit advocacy or, you know, service community service related organizations to influence these companies to, you know, do things a quote unquote, right way, because a lot of these are not, companies are not doing things the right way. They’re just getting on a bandwagon and pretending like, I really shouldn’t be saying this, but it they’re trying to be doing, they’re trying to be accessible, but they’re actually there are other ways to do it when but they’re not doing that way. So, yeah, so I like it does become more difficult for community service related type sectors to influence these companies? Because I don’t know. We don’t have the money to influence
Marco Campana 42:48
for sure. You know, we don’t have the cloud, right. But it also it also raises an interesting point about if so, if settlement organizations are going to some of these for profit companies to get consulting, are they getting what they need? Right? Or, you know, they might have a finite amount of money, and then they start going down the path of an accessibility initiative. But in fact, it’s not it doesn’t get them where they where they need to go if they’re sort of, you know, not for lack of a better word that you know, the greenwashing, the accessibility washing, and that’s a that’s a concern too. So the literacy of the average organization and its leadership around this, so I’m just looking at the O’Casey accessibility program, the initiative and there’s like toolkits, handouts for managers and for employees and stuff. It does seem to focus on on people with disabilities and not just making things accessible for anyone. But it’s a good starting point in particular to to. So would you recommend I can share this in the show notes after the blog posted? Are there resources here, something that had been useful for people in the sector to at least start their learning from?
Miyuki Fukuma 43:47
Um, I’ve heard Yes. That they like their the toolkit, the book, I think that yeah, that book apparently has been downloaded a lot. And a lot of people. Yeah, have said that they refer to it a lot. The Accessibility Initiative, also, I think, has won awards in the past for its work. Okay. And one of them. Yeah, and one of them is, is an reputable rule. Award, at least in Ontario with respect to accessibility.
Marco Campana 44:17
That’s important. And it doesn’t say anything on the site. Actually, that might be useful there. That’s a good interesting thing about about accessible information, right? For someone like me, that would be useful because you talked about it earlier around trust, and how to rise above the fray. You know, this project one exe award, and if that award is reputable and well respected, seems like it seems like something you’d want to have there, for example, to help encourage people to access these resources, but I will share them. I hadn’t I hadn’t flipped through this, this project before. So this is a great starting point, at least for Ontario organizations and again, probably beyond. But certainly when it comes to legislation, it’ll refer to Ontario legislation, but I imagined the principles of creating it adjustability, you’re going to be fairly universal in this.
Miyuki Fukuma 45:02
Yeah. So that project from what I understand was previously just for Ontario, and then it went national. Okay, I think maybe two years ago. So I think they’re in the middle of developing things for them. We’re not on the national scale now. But
Marco Campana 45:16
how is an accessibility across Canada? I see that there now. Yeah. And it’s English, French as well. And it looks like there’s some online self directed courses, which I assume are on the learning worksite. So a bunch of resources, but again, time and a learning curve, but at least people can go to one place instead of googling. And start with a reputable place like O’Casey, that’s done the work. And I mean, there’s there’s even staff contacts here. So I imagined they would be helpful for for any kind of thoughts and recommendations. So yeah, awesome. Okay. This has been really, really a really slightly unexpected, but really interesting conversation. When I talked about accessibility, I thought we would focus more on digital, but this is, this is for me, like the foundational stuff before you get to the digital, you need to have all this other stuff in place. And these perspectives and these attitudes, and these approaches, and the digital should just flow naturally, the digital accessibility, I mean, should just flow naturally, because you have an accessibility kind of approach. And so therefore, everything you do, should theoretically become accessible. I mean, that’s obviously more of a dream than a reality. But it’s a starting point of like, you know, it’s a, it’s an idea that if you infuse this in all of your work, then it shouldn’t, you know, be part of all your work. So you’re choosing a new technology, or how to use social media? Well, accessibility needs to be part of that conversation in the same way that that it does, or comms does, for example, yes. And as you say, it’s increasingly just like it and comms, it’s a cross organizational responsibility to be aware of, and how to operationalize these things in your daily work. So really useful. So I will definitely share this stuff out. Any other thoughts? I mean, this thank you so much, again, for joining we’re, we’re almost an hour in Do you have any other thoughts that maybe things I haven’t asked you about related to the work you’re doing, in particular around UI UX and human centered design, that would be useful for people to know in the sector, about how you approach the work, that might be a good lesson for how they approach their work, when it comes to designing and evaluating and, and, and just kind of, you know,
Miyuki Fukuma 47:18
innovating. Um, but you sort of already mentioned this at the very beginning, but because, because of a way, so, most of our projects, my biggest all the projects are government funded. And there’s this CFP process which I get by God to be part of the last time because I joined right before it started. But um, that process doesn’t allow for, for exam, like, you’re right, the work that I do, a lot of it is you build you reiterate, you reiterate, that reiterating part isn’t built in, or there’s no, not a lot of thought around that.
Marco Campana 48:00
I’m doing this funding structure and the
Miyuki Fukuma 48:03
funding structure, like you always start with, Oh, we’re going to build a website. And it’s going to be finished by this date. Right. And so one thing is like, like I already said, it’s not clear, at least from what I saw, it wasn’t clear why you needed that website, for example. It’s like, what is what like I said, What is the project problem you’re trying to solve? And like, what are the various ways that problem can be solved? Again, technology might not be the solution, there could be something more simple. And this is important, because technology is expensive, right?
Marco Campana 48:36
Unfortunately, yeah. So over a long term as well, it’s not just a one time investment.
Miyuki Fukuma 48:40
That’s the other thing. So I mean, it’s, it’s possible that there is a non technical solution that might be lower cost, and, you know, might even be more sustainable. But so that thought process is I find it a little bit intriguing that that thought process needs to be missing. The other organization that I was I worked for before I came to Kasi was they did they were involved in cancer research. So in the research world, a lot of research doesn’t start from scratch, right? Usually someone else has done some other research related and you kind of build on that. And it keeps building so it’s not I mean, it’s not just one person who finds a solute, Sue scientific solution to something it’s, it’s over the accumulation of different research projects.
Marco Campana 49:25
Right. On each other’s work. Yeah.
Miyuki Fukuma 49:29
So there doesn’t seem to be a lot of that happening. And I found that interesting. It’s like, we want to build this website. But, um, like, part of me was going well, where’s your research to backup the fact that you need this website? Um, so it just seemed odd to me because I came from a scientific kind of area previously. Like I said, I’m new to the sector. So the sector has its own way of doing things I realized that so Um, and yeah, you just brought it up. A little bit earlier, but the fact that technical solutions you can’t, they’re not sustainable with a one time cost anymore. Um, let’s see, there’s some articles out there about. So essentially a lot of technical projects, their software. And if you there are articles out there about how software development never ends. So if you’re taking on a technical project, you’re actually taking on a project that unless you kill it, it’s never going to end like there will be there will be costs like people and, you know, other costs involved in keeping it going. And really the longest I think what they said in one of the article was that the longest you can wait without doing any maintenance on quote unquote, software’s about half a year. So like, so that hasn’t been taken into account, either.
Marco Campana 50:51
That’s just maintenance. That’s not just that’s not like new user requests or features or things like that. But that’s just kind of keeping it stable, secure, and up to date, right?
Miyuki Fukuma 51:00
Yes. And that’s the other thing, your users change your users change rapidly. Like, that’s, that’s the thing with the digital age, right? Like things change really quickly. And yeah, being able to keep up with how people change and how, how people’s environments change and stuff. That’s, that’s, that’s something that needs to maybe be more considered when, when putting together these proposals for. Yeah, so in general, I’m not as a you a UX professional, I find I’m not able to do my work fully. Because we don’t the resources aren’t in place for that to happen. That’s okay. I have worked in other environments where I can’t do my work fully. And, you know, part of a designer is making things work somehow. So. But it, it also means that I see certain opportunities go by not being explored, for example. So it can be kind of frustrating seeing that.
Marco Campana 51:59
Yeah, no, I bet. Well, I’ll say this, as you see those opportunities float by I would love to connect with you about CCOs, again, so that we as a sector can understand what a missed opportunity might look like. And then maybe there’s a place where someone can harness it, right. If we share the idea of a missed opportunity in one space, someone else might be working on that. And contribute to it because I think that that, like I said earlier, that whole conversation that’s sharing that building on each other’s work is also just building on each other’s ideas and frustrations. In some cases, oh, I wish I had this. And someone over in Vancouver is like, well, I have that. So maybe we can figure out how to help you build it as well. Yeah. I think I think that would be useful. I think that’s what some of these communities of practice and these networks are meant to, and to try to do. A little more informed a little more formally than just kind of a shout out to social media. Right. But yeah, no great reflection that I think I think you’re right about the funding as well, and that we need to see it and the next funding call for proposals and beyond something that operationalizes some of what you’re describing the the iteration, the innovation, the experimentation, but also the long term vision of a technology infrastructure that is maintained over time and not just maintained, but it’s, you know, allowed to morph and grow and change, and pivots along with, with the people that’s working with, for example, which takes us back to human centered design, because we keep going back to them to find out what it is that they need and how they their needs. So it is constant cycles. Listen, thank you for spending the time I really appreciate it. This was a this was a fun conversation and big education for me. So I appreciate you being here.
Miyuki Fukuma 53:33
Okay. I feel like we didn’t stay on topic. But I’m glad you bet is a useful conversation.
Marco Campana 53:38
Absolutely. Hey, the topic is what it becomes in my experience in these conversations. So that was great and really useful. And I may come back to you with some more questions about some of the other topics in the future
Miyuki Fukuma 53:48
as well. Anytime anytime. Let’s talk again.
Marco Campana 53:51
Awesome. Thanks. Thanks so much for listening. I hope you found this episode interesting and useful for you and your work. You can find more podcast episodes, wherever you listen to your podcasts are also on my email@example.com I appreciate you listening and if you have any tips, suggestions, ideas or want to be interviewed or know someone who wants to be interviewed, please drop me a line through my website, or firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks again.