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Systems of Harm

I’ve recently started listening to the Systems of Harm podcast by Amy Hupe. It’s a short (6 episodes) series of podcasts discussing design systems and probing into how in addition to speeding up the design process they can also accelerate and perpetuate systemic harm.

Of particular interest to myself is the episode with Fred Warburton where they discuss Accessibility. Fred and Amy talk about their time at Babylon Health and some of their experience’s tackling accessibility. One of Fred’s comments is that it wasn’t like anyone had set out to create an inaccessible experience, or that they wanted to exclude anyone, but if no one is pushing for the work to get done, or if there is not a direct connection within the organization; it’s easy for it to be forgotten or overlooked when all other priorities are also jockeying for attention.

As designers, developers, and curators of large-scale systems it is our job to understand and investigate the why behind our decisions and do the hard work of understanding the effects that our decisions can have on all of our users.

One of my team’s major goals for 2024 is to establish a cross-functional working group within our organization to not only ensure “Our components are accessible,” (In a vacuum, with no other code around*), but also to document, spearhead, and encourage others to truly experience and understand how our products work for all kinds of users, across multiple disability categories; and work towards constantly improving the experience.

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Adam Sedwick

I work on Design systems and Advocate for Accessibility on the web.



Design Systems

Design Tokens

Web Accessibility

Web Design

Web Development

Open Web Standards