Beyond Barriers with Nirmala

Beyond Barriers - An Accessibility Podcast - with Nirmala Kudal, Senior Frontend Engineer

Accessibility is crucial for creating inclusive digital environments, enhancing user experiences for everyone. Nirmala, a senior front-end engineer with a deep commitment to accessibility, shares her journey and insights.

The Realization

Nirmala's journey into accessibility began in 2016 at HSBC. "I realized that just ensuring a website's functionalities work isn't enough. We need to ensure that the website is accessible to everyone," she recalls. This realization struck when a user faced significant difficulties due to an accessibility issue with the website's scrolling function.

Bridging Technology and User Needs

Recognizing the gap in accessibility testing, Nirmala began advocating for inclusive design within her team. "We need to make sure that our websites are accessible to everyone, not just those without disabilities," she emphasizes. Her advocacy led to integrating accessibility testing into the regular QA process, considering diverse user needs from the development stage.

Leveraging Data and Analytics

To drive accessibility improvements, Nirmala turned to data and analytics. "With analytics tools, we can identify which parts of the website are frequently visited and which are not, helping us prioritize our efforts," she explains. This approach allowed her team to address critical accessibility issues effectively.

Evolving Accessibility Practices

Over nearly a decade, Nirmala has seen significant advancements in accessibility evaluation practices. "Now, accessibility is part of day-to-day development. We ensure that every functionality works for both normal and accessible users," she shares. Her team uses tools like Axe, Pali, Wave, and Lighthouse to identify and fix accessibility issues during development.

Overcoming Accessibility Challenges

Challenges remain, such as ensuring content is appropriately communicated by screen readers. "The content team and development team sometimes have different opinions on what the screen reader should convey," Nirmala notes. Another challenge is selecting color schemes accessible to visually impaired and color-blind users. "We need to choose colors that work for everyone, which requires careful study and analysis," she explains.

Implementing Accessible Strategies

Nirmala's approach involves collaboration and education. "We started knowledge-sharing sessions with the entire team, including developers, QAs, and UI/UX designers, to ensure everyone understands the importance of accessibility," she says. This holistic approach helps create a unified commitment to accessibility application across all stages of development.

Embracing Global Perspectives

Having worked in different regions, Nirmala has observed varying levels of accessibility awareness. "In Europe, most websites are accessible and follow strict guidelines. In India, there's still a gap in focusing on accessibility," she notes. This disparity underscores the need for global efforts to promote accessibility best practices.

Accessibility in Technology

Looking ahead, Nirmala sees AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) as significant disruptors in accessibility applications. "AI and NLP are already building automated tools for testing website accessibility, which can streamline the process," she predicts.


Nirmala's journey highlights the importance of integrating accessibility evaluation into every stage of web development. Her experiences show that with the right tools, data-driven approaches, and collaborative efforts, we can create digital environments that are inclusive and accessible to all. As Nirmala aptly puts it, "Making websites accessible is not just a technical requirement; it's a responsibility to ensure that everyone can use and benefit from digital platforms."

The podcast is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Amazon Music, Pandora, and Stitcher.