Rocket Digital Accessibility Team
Olya Kenney6 Minute Read
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2023
The transformative vision of our Rocket Digital Accessibility team intersects product strategy, technology and the amazing culture of our organization. Together, we’ve been driving the operational impact of digital accessibility to serve our community as a force for good. By challenging the status quo, we drive positive change through our dedication to do the right thing for every client, every time.
Our daily work is focused on transforming the industry by humanizing technology. When partnering with various teams across the organization, we integrate digital accessibility into the product strategy, design and development processes at scale. We help maximize inclusivity and searchability of Rocket digital products and communications by adapting to client needs and engaging new user populations. We’ve been advocating within and beyond our organization, training, teaching, mentoring and raising organizational accessibility maturity.
As we guide a new generation of professionals, we foster strong commitments to the success, well-being and financial freedom of our clients and their families. We amplify team member impact with technology, and volunteer to make a difference. Our actions reflect the mindset of a For More Than ProfitSM enterprise. We cultivate innovative teamwork that helps us bridge the digital divide and serve the greater community by supporting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in digital environments, products and communications. By tying strategy to execution, we facilitate proactive creation of human-centered digital experiences accessible for all!
Our Recent Achievements And Outcome-Driven Solutions
As a team, we are devoted to helping the Rocket brand be the best at creating certainty in life’s most complex moments so that our clients can live their American dream. This includes our clients with a diversity of backgrounds, disability types and circumstances. To build inclusive digital experiences that empower our clients and drive the remarkable culture of our organization, we take actionable steps and focus on outcome-driven solutions.
For example, in Q1 2023, we worked on the following client-centric initiatives:
- We’ve been testing and providing guidance to maximize accessibility of various Rocket brands in alignment with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1, AA), World Wide Web Consortium, Section 508, and other best practices. This includes our contributions to Rocket Mortgage® web and mobile properties resulting in more inclusive and disability-friendly digital experiences.
- For Rocket Rewards and other brands, we’ve been ensuring that PDFs shared with us are disability friendly. We repair PDFs by tagging them for assistive technologies’ users and apply modifications to foster inclusive design.
- For Rocket Design System (RDS), the Accessibility team partners closely with the RDS Team to ensure content, components and guidance for Rocket products are inclusive, disability-friendly and compliant with Accessibility Standards. To raise awareness, this year we also published actionable techniques to integrate accessibility into product design and development process. To learn more, visit Accessibility And Rocket Design System on our career blog.
- When partnering with various business areas, we’ve been integrating accessibility into the product strategy, design and development processes. For example, in alignment with KimArie Yowell’s Learning teams, we’ve been building inclusivity into the learning process to empower and celebrate team member potential, teaching, mentoring, and raising accessibility maturity and awareness across Rocket Companies®.
Our efforts are deeply impactful because according to Section 508.gov, accessibility makes “website navigation possible and/or easier for 57% of computer users. 71% of web users with a disability will simply leave a website that is not accessible. That represents a significant loss of traffic, customers and audience. It also represents an opportunity for businesses and consumers to reach this untapped market online. Accessible web design minimizes the rate at which users abandon a site and increases revenue.” Furthermore, accessibility safeguards from legal risks, supports diversity and strengthens digital brands.
Rocket Accessibility Working Group Leadership
Our Digital Accessibility team is 100% multicultural, and we innately value the importance of inclusive environments. As core members of this team, we’ve been living the Rocket culture for over 6 years since we joined our organization. Our brief bios are as follows:
- Olya Kenney — Principal Digital Accessibility Strategist leading charge for accessibility.
- Diana Riquelme —Digital Accessibility Strategist who joined our team transitioning from a design role.
We use a variety of strategic methods to establish and grow digital accessibility practices across the organization. One of them is forming the Rocket Accessibility Working Group. As I lead our Rocket Accessibility Working Group, we continue to partner with our amazing peers from Rocket MoneySM, Amrock, Rocket Central and many others from across Rocket Companies.
Together, we identify ways to leverage accessibility personalizing and humanizing digital communications across all channels within the Rocket ecosystem. We evaluate vendor engagements, create new accessibility templates and foster new processes to set accessibility as part of the quality assurance process. Our efforts help retain and bring new clients, increase market share and revenue and identify inches for growth.
We set standards, build enterprise-wide relationships and align various teams and business areas around a shared vision for digital accessibility. We work on policies and governance empowering people to reach their full potential to achieve their dream of financial freedom and homeownership by promoting digital inclusion and equitable access for all. By creating inclusive digital experiences and culture, we transform and shape the fintech industry.
Paving The Road With Accessibility Innovation
Rocket culture promotes innovation, and our Accessibility team contributes to many transformative initiatives. By working together, we create personalized experiences that anticipate the needs of clients with disabilities, improve market share by reaching new audience segments and promote financial inclusion and equitable access for all.
For instance, we actively participate in Rocket’s Hack Week aimed to advance technology. Here are recent examples of the top successful outcomes of this amazing program:
- In Q1 2023, Olya Kenney proposed an idea to create interactive tools that both operationalize and gamify digital accessibility by connecting it to the Rocket Product Strategy process. Olya brought together a gifted team of remarkable professionals from Design, Engineering, Content Strategy, Search Engine Optimization and Product Marketing. The Hack Week team did a great job executing an impactful proof of concept.
- Starting with the accessibility of Text Alternatives, our Hack Week team created an interactive workflow capturing the process for how to create quality and on-brand alternative text to expand market share and maximize inclusivity and SEO of Rocket digital products. What is unique about this project is that we tied this use case to the existing product design and development process we have within Product Strategy. In addition, successful execution of this Hack Week idea included an eLearning game that helps engage the right roles on early stages of the process to plan for integration of accessibility best practices.
For a large organization, this project is intended to elevate efficiency of process at scale, so that alternative text and other accessibility best practices are considered from early stages of product cycle. As a result, teams across the organization will be better equipped to remove some of the critical barriers that impact client experience and SEO. Kudos to Diana and to every member of our team for their dedicated and excellent work!
Our previous innovation-focused work also explored the use of augmented and virtual reality to promote empathy and accessibility in eLearning, as highlighted by Great Places to Work blog articles about Customer Service Innovations, Accelerated Innovation Velocity Ratio, Inc Magazine and Innovation by All research. Through scalable processes, simulation, empathy-building and gamification, we teach people how to make digital experiences, products and communications disability-friendly and more inclusive for all.
Digital Accessibility And Rocket Culture
The digital world is advancing rapidly, and innovation is key to remaining competitive in the evolving market. Digital accessibility is a human right expected by the modern user population and it’s the right thing to do. Empathy, care and focus on the ethical application of technologies inspires us to make a difference.
“Ignore the noise” is among our favorite ISMs. It’s evident that the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally redefined social dynamics. Digital channels became primary in how people communicate and engage in all daily activities. If we encounter someone who attempts to dismiss the digital aspects of accessibility, we rely on the ISM, “Do the right thing.” We raise awareness that a lack of foresight about digital accessibility can keep a brand from reaching its full potential and affinity.
We approach digital accessibility with understanding that it’s a critical business practice instead of a short-term single project. If someone only sees a small section of digital accessibility discipline insisting that exploring beyond that is not relevant or worthy of their time, we encourage them to embrace the ISM: “Every client. Every time. No exceptions. No excuses.”
Digital accessibility best practices impact engineering code, user experience/user Interface and visual design, written word and many other aspects of creating inclusive experiences. These guidelines and methods are truly in-depth because they take care of the full spectrum of diverse needs and disabilities.
Realizing that you need digital accessibility at the end of the process is a lot like building a skyscraper and then remembering that it needs an elevator in it. Unfortunately, this creates barriers for people who communicate and engage with technology differently. Yet, history proves that the diversity of communication and thought is what breeds innovation and inspires the greatest inventions that revolutionize the industry offering a true competitive edge.
When driving positive change, true courage is evident when people take actionable steps to offer support where and when it’s needed most in alignment with our ISM, “Yes before no.” To foster digital inclusion, our accessibility initiatives expand and transform the way people learn, automate and approach UX to empower the diversity of human potential and celebrating people for who they are.
The culture of our amazing organization helps us promote diversity of thought, create space for innovation and disrupt our industries to cultivate the inclusive and disability-friendly Rocket Platform. Together, we create experiences that help millions of people achieve their dream of financial freedom and homeownership. By elevating the maturity of accessibility practice, we bridge the digital divide and drive human-centered solutions with empathy, care and successful outcomes!
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Accessibility And Rocket Design System
At Rocket Companies®, we amaze our clients by offering them incredible experiences, solving their problems and finding ways to connect with the community through empathy and care. In our commitment to deliver the most value for all, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of people with a diversity of backgrounds, disability types and circumstances.
Research Repository: Everything You Need To Know
Research repositories bring together UX research and reports into a searchable online database that makes it easy for team members from across the organization to find the information they need to power their design and development processes.