When Rakesh Paladugula (pictured above, second to the left) was in school, he knew he wanted to study computers. The fact that he is visually impaired was only a challenge when it came to using software that wasn’t optimized for accessibility. So he decided to dedicate his own career to changing the software landscape, making it more inclusive. He got the ultimate chance to make a difference when he came to work at Adobe.
“I joined Adobe because the company understands the importance of software accessibility and knows that making software available to everyone is the right thing to do,” Rakesh says. “Working at Adobe gives me the chance to have a huge impact in that area.”
In most companies, Rakesh says, accessibility is seen as an afterthought. Products are usually designed for the general population and then—if they consider accessibility at all—try to retrofit accessibility features onto the completed product. The problem is that when you don’t consider accessibility at the requirements stage, you may end up with a poorly designed product that doesn’t work as well as it could.
And Rakesh works to make sure that never happens at Adobe. Although there is still a lot of work to be done, we are making progress towards improving our products. As an accessibility training manager in Bangalore and the site lead for our Access Adobe Employee Network, he trains developers and QE engineers around the world how to make Adobe products accessible. His goal is to make every employee in Adobe aware of accessibility and what it means in product design.
“I don’t have to convince anybody at Adobe that it’s important,” he says. “They already get it, so by offering training on accessibility we can make delivering accessible solutions easier and accelerate the rate of our improvement.”
Rakesh focuses on accessibility for many kinds of disabilities, whether visual impairments, hearing impairments, or physical challenges that prevent customers from operating a mouse. He has worked with W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Web Content Accessibility Guidelines working group and the Accessible Rich Internet Applications working group. And at Adobe, he says, he has found an employer that believes in his mission as much as he does.
“Adobe is growing and changing the world every day, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that growth story,” Rakesh says. “We have a real ability to make a difference by educating engineers to make products that everybody can use.”