How much do you factor accessibility into your work? If the answer isn't "a lot", then hopefully this week's interview with Erin Newby will give you some insight. Erin has recently struck out on her own, and she brings years of product design experience with her to help clients and companies provide the best experiences to their customers. Erin and I talked about growing up in Detroit, and she mentioned how she first got interested in design and what prompted her to move to NYC. We also spent a good bit of time talking about the current state of accessibility, invisible disabilities, and steps and resources that designers can take to make their projects more available by everyone. Erin strives to be an example to others, and this episode only further illustrates that. Thank you Erin for helping make the web a more accessible place!
How much do you factor accessibility into your work? If the answer isn't "a lot", then hopefully this week's interview with Erin Newby will give you some insight. Erin has recently struck out on her own, and she brings years of product design experience with her to help clients and companies provide the best experiences to their customers.
Erin and I talked about growing up in Detroit, and she mentioned how she first got interested in design and what prompted her to move to NYC. We also spent a good bit of time talking about the current state of accessibility, invisible disabilities, and steps and resources that designers can take to make their projects more available by everyone. Erin strives to be an example to others, and this episode only further illustrates that. Thank you Erin for helping make the web a more accessible place!
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Maurice Cherry: All right. So tell us who you are, and what you do.
Erin Newby: Well, hi. My name is Erin. I am a freelance product designer, currently. I'm also an accessibility advocate. I like to do a little bit of tech writing, and I also volunteer at an accessibility organization.
Maurice Cherry: Nice. So, I'm always been curious about freelancing in New York City, because it's such a big place. There are hundreds, thousands, I'm sure, of designers that are doing it. What's been the biggest challenge, so far, with doing freelancing?
Erin Newby: To be completely honest, I would say it's gaining a stream of consistent clients. I think a lot of the ... some of the clients that I've had recently have been referral-based, which has been nice, based off of some of my previous work. Then, I've also worked with a lot of recruiters in terms of working with contracts that they've had. So, I guess a lot of it boils down to networking, just to really get yourself out there, to be able to secure something.
Maurice Cherry: What kind of projects are you working on now? Can you speak to any of those?
Erin Newby: Yes, I've currently working with a telecommunications company, and then I'm also working on very small branding and identity projects.
Maurice Cherry: All right. How do you end up approaching new projects?
Erin Newby: In what way? In terms of bigger projects, or ... I generally send out a questionnaire to some of my smaller clients, just to clarify what they're asking for, gather pretty much any visual samples, just to get a clear direction. Because, I find when I work with a lot of freelance clients, sometimes if they're smaller, they don't have really clear direction, in terms of what they want. A large portion of beginning work with that client is just trying to clarify what exactly they're asking for, in terms of direction.
Maurice Cherry: Okay, and so I guess that can vary, based on the type of project, but you usually try to start out with making sure that you ask those questions first?
Erin Newby: Yeah, exactly.
Maurice Cherry: Before going freelance, I know, just because we've been acquainted, we've talked before, you worked as a product designer for a large number of years at NASDAQ. Can you talk a little bit about what that experience was like?
Erin Newby: Yeah, it was very interesting. I was very new to the fintech space, so it took a lot of getting familiar with that landscape. It was also interesting working there as well, because I didn't just necessarily work under one business unit. I got the opportunity to work under multiple different business units, just to see how different aspects of that company was ran.
Erin Newby: It was a very interesting experience, in terms of the type of people that I've worked with. I constantly found myself as the youngest designer on a team. I was the only black woman designer on a team, and then, I've only worked with a few other colleagues that looks like me, throughout my years there.
Maurice Cherry: Oh, interesting. I'm thinking of something like, NASDAQ, financial technology. I'm curious, how does UX play into that? Can you talk about some of the stuff that you did while you were there?
Erin Newby: Yeah. Okay. So I think when a lot of people hear the name NASDAQ, they automatically think of the stock exchange, which is rightfully so. I mean, that's pretty much how they dominate that landscape. But, they also have a lot of other applications and products that they own. For example, I worked on a platform for boards and C-suite level leadership. So, they try to infiltrate all of these other spaces. I've also worked on a platform, which was a research tool for financial advisors, to help put together their client's portfolios. I've also worked on a little bit of a more innovative product, that incorporate ... which was one of the use cases for Blockchain and fintech, in one of NASDAQ's private markets. So, it's very interesting how UX intertwines into fintech.
Erin Newby: But I do think that there is a lot of ... I want to say since fintech is fairly new to the tech space, in terms of the maturity of that space, there's still a lot to be ironed out in terms of the application of UX in that space. So, if anyone's interested into ... in joining fintech, it's growing very fast, in terms of what you can learn, different pathways you can explore, and different technologies that you can potentially use.
Maurice Cherry: Did you first get into it just because of this position, into fintech?
Erin Newby: Yes. Yep. I was freelancing at the time, before I picked up this position, and the director of product design there was interested in my portfolio and he was like, "Well, do you want to come and join the team? We're working on some really interesting products." I was like, "Sure." So then, I came on board, and then spent quite a few years there.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. And now you're striking out on your own in New York City.
Erin Newby: Yeah.
Maurice Cherry: In your Twitter bio, you mention being Detroit born and bred. I have a specific affinity for Detroit. My mom is from there. Her family's from there. I've only been there once. I went when I was a baby. There's a picture of me as a baby, and I'm wearing this, it's like a red and white button, and it says, "I did it in Detroit, 1981." What was it like growing up in Detroit, for you?
Erin Newby: Well, okay, so I grew up in a very lower income, inner city community. It wasn't the Detroit that it is now. I think that Detroit is becoming fairly gentrified. But yeah, so, but my parents were very adamant about education. They put me through some of the best schools that they could afford, at the time. So, I had a very interesting dual experience of being ... growing up in the 'hood, but then also, being able to experience other aspects of life, in terms of going through private schooling, going through Lutheran schooling and that sort of thing, I guess. I don't know if that's a good depiction of that experience.
Maurice Cherry: Okay. No, I remember, I went to a Lutheran preschool, I think. So, I get what you're saying, there.
Maurice Cherry: I want to talk a little bit more just about Detroit in general. We've had a few folks on the show who are either from Detroit or they're currently there. Craig Wilkins, who won the national design award a couple years back; Andrea Williams, I think most recently. Right around the beginning of the year, we had Ayesha Blake, who does some work there for Detroit Labs. I remember from my conversation with her, she was talking about how Detroit is changing in this very interesting way. And you're saying it's becoming a lot more gentrified?
Erin Newby: I would believe so. There's a lot of creativity in Detroit, right now. I was just there a month ago, for my grandmother's birthday. I constantly get to go back and see how it's evolving. I know there's a lot of tech companies that are moving into Detroit currently, which is great, I think, for the community. It brings jobs there. It brings more interesting jobs there. But also, I feel like the downtown areas, and then also midtown, have completely been revamped.
Erin Newby: I went down there with my mom when I visited there, for my grandmother's birthday. She was like, "Yeah, Erin, these areas are nothing like how they were when I grew up." She was like, "You wouldn't even be able to believe, to imagine, what they looked like," so, just in terms of the wealth that migrated into those spaces and what happened to the communities that were currently there.
Maurice Cherry: Do you think that the cultures is kind of still there, or is it being edged out too?
Erin Newby: I think some of the culture is being edged out. I think because, when people think about Detroit, outside of some of the more negative aspects of it, people tend to think about Motown, for example, or the automobile industry. I don't really know if people associate Detroit with music and/or cars, anymore. In terms of that, I think some of that, some of those cultural aspects of Detroit are getting edged out. But I will say though, just because I am from Detroit, whenever I go back, I still do feel the culture in Detroit, just because I do have a lot of people that are still there, family members, so it still feels like home.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I feel like it's sort of that way, a bit, in Atlanta, although I think it's happening slowly. I mean, the city definitely has gentrified since I got here, geez, 20 years ago. Wow. Since I got there 20 years ago, it has certainly gentrified and changed a lot. Even the particular neighborhood that I'm in, which is a historically black neighborhood, the West end, the culture is still there, but you can tell that there are ways that it's slowly starting to change and shift. It's something that I didn't really realize until, honestly, really until I started freelancing, and started being able to go to different parts of town that I'm not in regularly. Every time I go back there, it's like, "Whoa, this is completely different." The midtown in Atlanta that I knew when I moved there and the midtown now are like night and day. Even Buckhead, I used to live in what used to be the club district in Buckhead, and now it's Tom Ford, Hermes.
Erin Newby: Wow.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. It's completely changed, a lot. People are getting edged out of certain neighborhoods. It's starting to happen a little bit in my neighborhood, but it's kind of still staying the same for now. But, I know what you mean about how that culture can change and shift.
Maurice Cherry: So, growing up there in Detroit, was design a part of your childhood? Were you exposed to it in any sort of way?
Erin Newby: Not at all. Not at all. I went to a performing arts high school, and I guess that's the closest that I got to design, until I went to college. But, design was not a part of my childhood, at all. I didn't even think that that was a career pathway that I could go down until I got into college, basically. Which was interesting. So-
Maurice Cherry: Speaking of which, you went to Michigan State University, is that right?
Erin Newby: Yes, I am a Spartan.
Maurice Cherry: Spartan. What was your time like there?
Erin Newby: It was cool. It was interesting. I studied advertising, actually, but advertising design, because I wanted to be this big ad world designer, working to get all of these advertising agencies. I thought it was great. I studied abroad while I was there. I took a communications program overseas, which opened up the world a little bit to me, which was great from, just from my experience from being in Detroit, just to see what was out there a little bit more. I got to network a lot. Some of my friends that I went to school with, we're still friends. A lot of them actually ended up in tech, which was interesting. So, yeah.
Maurice Cherry: And when did you end up making the move to New York City?
Erin Newby: About five years ago. Once I graduated, I actually did start working at an advertising agency.
Maurice Cherry: Okay.
Erin Newby: I was working in Texas for a little bit, contracting at an advertising agency. Then, one of my friends, who is currently a developer at Salesforce, he tapped me. Well, he called me. He was like, "Erin, you should check out UX. You should check out product design. You should see what's going on over there." He was like, "I think that that's where the design industry is heading." This is years ago, way before we got all these fancy product design titles, and like, interaction designer. This had to have been in 2012, 2013, when everyone was still calling product designer web designer.
Erin Newby: I started looking into that, and I got fascinated by solving humancentric problems, by using design. From there, I started self-teaching myself design. Then, I started looking for startups that would take someone like me, who was a self taught designer, at the time. Then, I slowly, I made that transition, and I got picked up at a startup in Brooklyn, as a split between an art director and a interaction designer. So, I still had the strengths of an art director, but then also, I was learning interaction design while being there. They thought that that was fine, which was a really good opportunity, now looking back. So then, that's how I slowly started to transition into a product designer.
Maurice Cherry: Nice. I bet it was good to have that little ... well, I'm not going to say little, but to have those experiences under your belt where you're working at say, smaller type companies, maybe the stakes are a little bit lower, but you're also learning on the job and picking up what it is.
Maurice Cherry: Lower, but you're also learning on the job and picking up kind of what it is to be in this new profession. That's a pretty good thing.
Erin Newby: Yeah, I'm very fortunate in that way.
Maurice Cherry: Now you mentioned, this is before we started recording how there has been several folks that you know that have been on the show. Actually, one of them in particular, Regine Gilbert, had a question around accessibility.
Erin Newby: For me?
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I know that you're a big accessibility advocate and we can go into this. You know, I certainly do want to go into this a lot more, but just kind of in general, what can designers and you know, developers that listen to this show as well, what can they do to include accessibility more into their work? Like, why is it important?
Erin Newby: Well, I guess why is it important? Because if you recognize people who have disabilities as a minority group, it's the largest minority group on the planet. So looking at it from that aspect, should just alert us into recognizing the fact that this is an actual issue.
Erin Newby: And then also outside of that, everyone is going to experience some form of disability in their lifetime, whether it be temporary, whether it's invisible. So it's not only that we're designing for accessibility. At the end of the day we're designing for everyone because disabilities are going to affect everyone at some point in their life.
Erin Newby: So once you start looking at it from the fact that we're not designing for someone else, you're designing for yourself, then that should, you know, make people a little bit more aware of the fact that accessibility shouldn't be something that's in the category of an other when thinking about design.
Maurice Cherry: What is an invisible disability?
Erin Newby: An invisible disability is something that you can't recognize by looking at somebody. So for example, like cognitive impairments. Like, let's say someone has depression and anxiety. I know mental health is a big issue nowadays. That definitely classifies as a disability.
Erin Newby: Someone that has multiple sclerosis, like depending on how their symptoms are flaring, you might not necessarily know someone. Someone that has dyslexia? There's no way of knowing that by looking at someone. So, it's just like those instances and examples fall into the category of invisible disabilities.
Maurice Cherry: I'm glad that you mentioned that because there's a case actually that's around right now. We spoke about this a little bit before recording. There's this case about someone who is suing Domino's Pizza. It's a blind man who is suing Domino's Pizza because the website is not accessible to him. Like, he tried to use it with a screen reader.
Maurice Cherry: Like, tried to order a pizza using a screen reader and it was incompatible and so he filed a lawsuit and now Domino's is actually trying to fight it. Like, they're petitioning the Supreme Court to hear the case. What do you think about that?
Erin Newby: I think, at first I'm very shocked that Domino's decided to it all the way up to that level because Target did that quite a few years ago. Like, they tried to take it all the way up to I guess where Domino's is trying to take it and they ultimately lost.
Erin Newby: And my thing is, history repeats itself. It's baffling to know that Domino's is doing that currently because under a lot of regulations it is against the law to not have your site or your product or your app inaccessible to people with disabilities. So, it's interesting to see how this is going to play out. I personally believe that they're not going to win the case, but I guess we'll have to see, because ... I don't know, like I just can't believe that they're taking it all the way up this far.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I mean the Americans With Disabilities Act, Title III of that act firmly states that websites are under that. Although I don't know if it says anything, and this is something actually that Domino's was trying to argue in their petition is saying that the accessibility of websites or like smartphone apps or things like that, they don't know if that qualifies per se as public accommodation.
Erin Newby: Okay. So then I guess we would have to look at what falls under the category of public accommodations?
Maurice Cherry: Right.
Erin Newby: Now, I currently want to look up the definition of a public accommodation. Just to be clear on that, because isn't Domino's accommodating the public by serving them for them to be able to buy, purchase food from them. Like, isn't that right?
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. Like, there's brick and mortar Domino's stores you can go to. So yeah.
Erin Newby: Right, so wouldn't that be able to translate over to the digital space as well?
Maurice Cherry: Now see, I think so. I think it would, and I guess Domino's is arguing that it's not clear whether or not that's the case, which I guess is why they're trying to escalate it to the Supreme Court, I would suppose? I don't know if they're necessarily like just trying to fight this one guy in particular, but let's say this ends up becoming like, a sweeping ruling from the Supreme Court.
Maurice Cherry: I mean, there's thousands to hundreds of thousands of websites that would need to change in order to meet that. I mean, that's a lot. I mean, I'm not saying that that's a bad thing, but that would be a pretty sweeping change.
Erin Newby: Yeah, it would, but I ... It would be like a very sweeping and a very sudden change, but I personally believe that the change needs to happen. Maybe not in the way that it's happening, that everything has to change all at once overnight or everyone's going to get a lawsuit, but it's something that eventually does need to be addressed.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I mean, there was actually a piece that you wrote on Medium awhile ago where you were talking about how accessibility is linked to innovation.
Erin Newby: Yes. So a lot of modern day products can be linked to accessibility and their birth because of these interesting use cases in trying to solve interesting problems. I think I came across this ... I was reading a book about accessibility not too long ago and I think Google Maps was born out of an accessibility need, which I thought was very interesting, because it's something that a lot of people rely on currently today.
Erin Newby: And then the modern day typewriter was also built off of an accessibility need as well. So, I think that once you solve these really unique use cases and these really unique problems, you could create something that not only benefits the disabled community but also everyone at large, just because when you're making life easier for someone, you're making life easier for everyone.
Erin Newby: Which is why I think that when it's hard to sell accessibility to like companies and all these different organizations, you have to look at some of the more positive sides of it because you could be creating something that's like really opening up a new avenue that didn't exist before.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. What are some steps that let's say companies can take or resources that they can look into if they want to start kind of getting ahead of this and making sure that their sites and apps and such are accessible to a number of people?
Erin Newby: I guess when it comes down to like the product design process, I would say start thinking about accessibility early and it could be once you're starting to define your user group, like maybe create a few personas that have accessibility needs. So when you're designing around those personas, you're designing with that in mind.
Erin Newby: Another thing that I would say is when you're solving problems for people, you're solving specific targeted problems for users' needs. Just start thinking about like needs on a grand scale, instead of very finite users. Because I think that people like to design things with themselves in mind sometimes, and ... The fact that people don't address people with disabilities when they approach design, I don't think that ... It's not their fault, I don't think, it's just something that's not considered because most people, when they think about, unless it directly influences them or like an issue or a topic or anything in that regard, it's not something that's going to be on top of your mind.
Erin Newby: Like, I think that there should be accessibility training for new employees and in terms of resources, there are tons of resources online. I will say the Accessibility Project has a list of amazing resources, everything from software screen readers that are available, different blogs, checklists, that sort of thing. And then also the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which is pretty much the golden standard for a bunch of accessibility information.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah, I remember that ... I used to teach that. I mean, I taught it in one of my courses, but I remember it about websites have to be operable, perceivable, understandable, and robust. I remember that completely.
Erin Newby: Yeah, the POUR. The POUR acronym.
Maurice Cherry: Yep. I mean ... Even back when I did design for the governor for state government here in Georgia, it was so interesting how people always looked at accessibility as some sort of a trade-off that they needed to make for design, which I thought was a really kind of weird way to look at it.
Maurice Cherry: I don't know if they were specifically thinking about like colorblindness or something to that effect. I mean, and there are people who, you know, designed government websites who probably have heard this before about the reason that government websites ended up looking kind of drab and you know ugly I guess in a way is because they have to have these sort of accessibility markers built into it. And so because of that, there's a compromise on the visual aesthetics of it, which I don't know if that's necessarily the case.
Erin Newby: Yeah, I don't think that's the case at all. There are so many ... Because my thing is there's so many colors out there and some of the best design is born within constraint. And if you're a really good designer, you can find good colors. Like, just because you're making your website or product accessible does not mean that it has to be boring, at all. Just as long as it's up to kind of the appropriate color/contrast ratio. Because I've made like these little flashcards for the POUR acronym and I like to use a lot of color personally and I made sure that they still looked good, but all the information was still very much still accessible. So.
Maurice Cherry: And I think also it's important to know that that accessibility doesn't always translate into just visual. Well, I don't want to say visual. It doesn't always translate into like graphics and colors. I mean, that can also be the copy that you write, you know?
Erin Newby: Yes, that's a very good point because the average reading level in America is on the eighth grade level. So once you start looking at that, like when if you're writing and you're putting a lot of like jargon into your writing, you're making your content inaccessible because there's a barrier there.
Erin Newby: So yeah, I do stand behind that, what you said, when it comes to making sure your content is that it's accessible that as well because that's something that I don't think a lot of people think about when they think about accessibility. Like when I think when people hear the word accessibility, the first thing that comes to mind is color, you know? But it like fully far reaches a lot further than that, even when it comes to the presentation aspects of design.
Maurice Cherry: Now you also do a lot of speaking on accessibility as well, right? You spoke at a conference last year about it.
Erin Newby: Yeah. I've spoken at conferences about it. I try to write about it. I've done a panel about it. It's just something that I'm really passionate about, obviously, so.
Maurice Cherry: Why do you think it's important to get the word out about it?
Erin Newby: Just to make people aware of it. What I mentioned earlier, people don't really necessarily think about things that don't hit close to home to them, so it's just not in their awareness. So I think that there needs to be a little bit more advocacy just to make sure that people are aware, they understand the importance of it and they understand what happens if you don't include accessibility into whatever they're working on.
Maurice Cherry: So, switching gears here a little bit. I mean, certainly I can tell that you have this big passion for accessibility, this big passion for user experience design. What do you think kind of helps fuel these ambitions that you have?
Maurice Cherry: Fuel these ambitions that you have?
Erin Newby: Well I guess, that's an interesting question, so I guess it's, I just get really absorbed into whatever I'm working on. Whatever I'm interested in, and I've been interested in design. Design has been a part of my life for about 10 years. It's evolved over the course of those 10 years, but that passion for it has still been there. And in terms of what fuels it, specifically, I just get really excited when I see some, a really cool design or really well thought out workflow or a really interesting use of the light. I guess it's because it's just so familiar and it's just something that I've always told myself, like I've committed to this, so this is like something I would really want to be a part of long term.
Erin Newby: And if I'm working within something, I just feel like I have to find avenues to continue to grow in it, because I feel like there is no level that you can reach as a designer, you could just say, "Oh I'm done." There's always something else that you can learn. There's always another way that you can look at something, another perspective that you can take. And my biggest thing is as I'm learning, I like to learn and then also give back all the information that I'm learning to help other people as they're learning as well. So that's where the passion came to speak, to write, to advocate for accessibility. That's where a lot of that passion came from too.
Maurice Cherry: Yeah. I always try to tell designers they need to be writing more.
Erin Newby: Yes.
Maurice Cherry: They got to get them, they got to take those thoughts out of their head, put it down in a way for people to share that knowledge. Also just for people to know that they know what they're talking about because so much of design is ... And I guess development too, is such a visual thing, or it can be very behind the scenes. And so if you're able to talk about it from your perspective, then not only do you show your knowledge about it, but you also are letting people know that this is a passion of mine, it lets them know that you're passionate about it.
Erin Newby: Agreed.
Maurice Cherry: Who or what are some of your influences as a designer?
Erin Newby: Oh, that's interesting. I guess that depends on like which side ... You see I was not prepared for this question, but there is ... Her name escapes me. She's like really big on Twitter. She's also an accessibility advocate. I forget her name, but she is someone that I, not look up to, but just I guess, yeah, look up to. I liked the following that she created. I like the influence that she has over the community, and she's using the influence in a positive way, but I forget her name.
Erin Newby: And then also Regine, she asked the question earlier. She is one of my friends, I love the work that she's doing and in all the spaces that she's working in currently. So, for example, she just did a conference this past weekend about designing for your future self, which I think is very important, and some of the accessibility work she's been doing at NYU and also some of the other universities that she's been working with.
Erin Newby: It's nice to have, I guess people in the industry that are passionate about some of the same things that you're passionate about. Just to be able to share information, bounce ideas off each other. If I do that, you know, do that, have that sort of have that community aspect of it.
Maurice Cherry: Do you have a dream project or anything that you'd love to do or love to be a part of?
Erin Newby: Yes, actually. Well there's two things. One of them is I want to try to look at education and how we are combining products, technology into education, and try to find better ways for students to learn, absorb knowledge. Yeah. I've just been really passionate about the education space lately and how you, people can start applying technology in ways that can better help students.
Maurice Cherry: In what sort of way? Like, I mean like I know that there are classrooms now that have iPads and Chromebooks and smart whiteboards and all that sort of stuff. Are you thinking about something different than that?
Erin Newby: I guess like the combination of that and also the coursework that's being taught too. So like, and then also, so now that they're bringing a lot more technology into the classroom, how does that, how does the teacher fit into all of this too? Because I come from a very traditional education system. Teacher's at the front of the classroom, I'm sitting at the desk with my pencil and paper. But now you bring in technology into the classroom. Like how do those interactions change? Is it more beneficial for the student? Is not more ... How does technology transform how students learn? I guess that's more so on the research side of it, but just like to see how that's evolving and the trade-offs of that.
Maurice Cherry: What are you the most excited about right now? It can be in your career, it can be in your personal life, anything like that.
Erin Newby: Ah, I guess I'm excited about ... I mean, I don't know. In my personal life I am moving soon and I'm moving to a spot in New York City that I've always wanted to live in. So that's exciting.
Maurice Cherry: Nice.
Erin Newby: And then in my professional life, I guess I'm happy to be able to navigate this freelance contracting space, and in a way that I can still explore different projects. Still have the opportunity to work with different companies.
Erin Newby: When I first started off freelancing, it wasn't something I was comfortable with, because the first thought in my mind was, how am I going to get a client? And how am I going to consistently get clients? And then [inaudible 00:29:13] transitioning out of a more traditional space in terms of employment, it's something that gave me a lot of anxiety, but just being able to navigate it in a way that I have recently, it's been very exciting and satisfying.
Maurice Cherry: What are the best types of clients for you?
Erin Newby: In terms of the space or in terms of the working relationship?
Maurice Cherry: I mean really either one. I mean we all want clients that we can really, work well with. But I mean like are there particular sectors that you are more interested in or anything like that where it comes down to the type of clients that you service?
Erin Newby: I guess right now I'm excited to be working in telecommunications just because I'll be solving problems at scale, and at a scale that I haven't worked with before. And so that's very interesting just because I like to explore different spaces. So this is giving me the opportunity to really be able to do that.
Maurice Cherry: What is the New York design scene like for you? I can only just imagine just from the times that I've visited up there, it feels like there's always something going on every day.
Erin Newby: I mean actually I would have to agree. If you're looking for like a meetup or an event or maybe even a conference there, it's there. When I first got out here, that was something that I really dove into a lot. Like meetups, events, conferences. One of my friends, he speaks a lot and he invites me to all his conferences, which is very nice.
Erin Newby: So I get to network a lot that way. But I will say that design is very involved here and there's a lot of ways that you can get involved. Like there's a very huge community of designers out here and I will say that that's a good thing because if let's say you're a designer, and you're looking for a mentor, you could easily, I don't know how easy this could be. But you could go to a meetup or a conference, bump shoulders with somebody, spark a conversation and start to sort of forge your path that way, which is nice because when I ... Before I moved to Texas, I lived in Iowa for a little bit. There was none of that. There was no me bumping shoulders with someone and trying to find a mentor at a meetup. So I just think that there's a lot of opportunity in terms of designers in New York city. And then also it's a very like thriving community, which is nice.
Maurice Cherry: Do you have any mentors or anything that you kind of look up to now or work with?
Erin Newby: I will say that I have a lot of friends that I consider mentors, but they're not technically mentors, and I will say that they help me out in different ways in my career. Like for example, I have a friend that is a speaker, so he sends me these speaking engagements, like I can bounce topics for articles, or if I want to come up with a new talk idea. So it's very ... I guess the mentors that I have in my life are very informal, but they're very much so my mentors, so ...
Maurice Cherry: Hmm. Okay. What does success look like for you? Like when you look back at your career, even I guess, you know, your whole journey starting out in Detroit, living and working in Iowa, living and working in Texas. Now you're in New York. What does success look like for you at this point in your life
Erin Newby: Right now? I guess it looks like leaving an impact, honestly, both in the accessibility space but then also both in terms of showing someone that came from the background that I did that it's possible, like you could, like the tech space is definitely a space that they could enter into. It's not necessarily when I first started off in this space, it wasn't the easiest space to navigate, but it's definitely very rewarding if they have the knack for it either designing, developing graphic design, illustration, just like the whole creative field. Like if there's a will, there's a way. So I just wanted to just be able to have that influence, but then also be able to make an impact in terms of accessibility and in terms of the community that I grew up in.
Maurice Cherry: So where you see yourself in say, I don't know, like the next five years or so, what kind of work do you want to be doing? Where do you see yourself then?
Erin Newby: Well, within the next five years I either have my own agency, if I could manage that, and that specializes in accessibility. But then, and also product design, or working at a company where I can maybe be like a design lead, but then also bring a lot of accessibility knowledge there. Or just help educate I guess the design team, or just the opportunity to practice accessibility in any capacity that I can at this point. And to be completely honest, whether it's on my own with consulting and contracting, or whether it's in a corporation that allowed me to do that as well.
Maurice Cherry: Well, Erin, just to kind of wrap things up here, where can our audience find out more about you and about your work online?
Erin Newby: Well, I have a website, erinnewby.com. I also have a medium that I write. I try to try to, I need to write more, but I'm writing on there as well. But you can also find my blog posts on my website. I have examples of some of my past work on my website. So yeah, those two are just my medium and my website. Also my Twitter, I'm not as active as I probably should be, but I do a tweet every once in awhile.
Maurice Cherry: And what's your Twitter handle?
Erin Newby: Erin_Newby
Maurice Cherry: All right, sounds good. Well, Erin Newby, I want to thank you so much just for coming on the show. I mean, I think certainly, and forgive the bad pun here, but you're definitely not a newbie when it comes to accessibility and being in this industry. I mean, I think some of the things certainly that you talked about in terms of resources and accommodation and things like that. So there are things that designers and developers need to be aware of. Social media has now given everybody a voice. Accessibility now sort of pushes the web closer towards those ideals that the internet sort of had in the very beginning, that it's accessible by everybody, that everyone can learn. And so, it's thanks certainly to accessibility advocates like you that help make that happen. So thank you for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
Erin Newby: Thank you for having me.