Beyond Barriers with Seema

Beyond Barriers - An Accessibility Podcast - With Seema Shariat-Hoover - Front-End Developer


Navigating the intricacies of web accessibility can be daunting for front-end developers. Seema Shariat, with her unique blend of technical expertise and personal experience as a three-time cancer survivor, shares vital insights into making the web more inclusive. Her journey underscores the significance of empathy, education, and a proactive approach to accessibility in front-end development.

Seema's Discovery of Accessibility

Seema's foray into accessibility was sparked by an unexpected challenge: responding to a request for a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). This led her to delve into the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), transforming her career path. "That was sort of my entryway into this whole new world of web accessibility," she recalls, highlighting the transformative power of mentorship and hands-on experience in mastering accessibility.

The Central Role of Empathy

At the heart of Seema's approach to accessibility is empathy. Understanding the frustrations of using non-accessible websites first-hand during her chemotherapy induced neuropathy, Seema emphasizes the importance of empathy for users with disabilities. "Some people have to deal with this every day...part of my passion is trying to do the best that I can to make things better for people with disabilities," she states, advocating for a compassionate and user-centered approach to development.

Challenges of Misinformation and Shortcuts

Seema warns against the pitfalls of misinformation and shortcut solutions that plague the field of accessibility. Highlighting the dangers of relying on quick fixes like accessibility overlays, she likens them to "building a ramp out of sand." Instead, Seema advocates for a foundational approach to accessibility, built on reliable information and genuine understanding.

Technology and Inclusivity

Seema sees great potential in leveraging advancements in technology, particularly AI, to improve web accessibility. However, she cautions that this potential can only be realized if technologies are developed with inclusivity as a core principle. "Good things get better, bad things get worse," she notes, stressing the need for developers to ensure that new technologies do not leave users with disabilities behind.

To All Front-End Developers

Seema's message to front-end developers is clear: accessibility should be an integral part of the development process from the outset. By embedding accessibility considerations in projects from the start, developers can contribute to a more inclusive digital environment. "It should never come as a surprise...It should just be," Seema asserts, encouraging developers to embed accessibility in their daily practices.


Seema's journey and insights offer invaluable lessons for front-end developers aiming to enhance web accessibility. Through empathy, diligent learning, and the thoughtful application of technology, developers can play a crucial role in creating a web that is accessible to all. As Seema's experience demonstrates, embracing accessibility is not just about overcoming technical challenges—it's about building a more inclusive and equitable digital world.

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