Q&A with visually impaired Nancy Urquilla

Blind tester Nancy Urquilla

Nancy is a blind Los Angeles native who does website accessibility testing for Be Accessible Inc. in the Glendale, CA office.

Q: How long have you been visually impaired and using assistive technologies?

A: I have been blind since birth due to congenital Glaucoma. I was first introduced to assistive technology in 2012 when I attended a 9-month program to learn blindness skills.

Q: What a big challenge you face when accessing websites?

A: Many websites display text on pictures and screen readers are unable to capture this information to turn into speech.

Q: What defines an accessible website for you?

A: The most important thing that makes a website accessible is that my screen reader is able to navigate and read all elements found in a website using the keyboard. In addition, one should be able to navigate this website completely independent without the assistance of a sighted person.

Q: What are some websites that you use that are very accessible?

A: My bank’s website is very accessible. I bank with Wells Fargo and I am able to get everything done on that website without ever requiring the assistance of a sighted person to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Q: Can you tell right away if a site is accessible and what do you do if it’s not?

A: Yes, I can definitely tell right away. Sometimes my screen reader will simply announce a link or button and nothing else. Other times it will simply announce blank. If it is at all possible, I contact the website developers to let them know about their website being inaccessible.

Q: How has technology made your day-to-day life more convenient?

A: Assistive technology has allowed me to compete on equal grounds with my sighted peers in so many ways. It is because of assistive technology that I am able to have a job and to perform all the functions and responsibilities required. I can pretty much do everything a sighted person can, using my computer with the screen reading software and with my iPhone.

Q: Do you feel companies are becoming more inclusive to the visually impaired?

A: I find that very few companies are making it a point to be inclusive. Unfortunately, more companies don’t seem to think that accessibility is a priority especially if they have one or no individuals who need their services in an alternative format.

Q: Working at Be Accessible, how does it feel to have your feedback incorporated into the design of websites?

A: I feel as if I have accomplished something very important. Not only do I want for all websites to be accessible to work with screen readers for my personal use, but also for our future generations. When I was growing up, I struggled to get my school materials in an accessible format and I would love for that barrier to finally disappear. People with disabilities should have equal access to information just as everyone else.‍