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Innovation in technology takes many forms, and at Sprout Social, the team has turned their focus to going beyond baseline accessibility across the company’s product suite.
According to Group Product Manager Caitlin Grogan, Sprout Social takes responsibility for offering a foundational accessible user experience within the digital marketing and social media platform and, in turn, encourages customers to adopt inclusive content practices.
Those efforts have seen significant results across the user base, as well. An in-app educational campaign marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day resulted in a 6six percent increase in alt text usage by customers.
“Our hope is that if our product is making a small difference in the world of inclusive social media, then there’s an exponential impact as more brands adopt these best practices,” Grogan said.
Sprout Social’s dedication to accessibility is evident not only in the company’s product, but throughout the team and culture, as well. A diverse employee population and intentional partnerships with customers who value inclusive hiring practices support the product team’s enhanced accessibility practice from both technical and cultural perspectives.
“Fostering a culture of curiosity and vulnerability encourages people to learn more about the disability experience and will only deepen their commitment to building accessible products,” Grogan said.
Grogan believes that Sprout Social is positioned to continue to advance product accessibility to build a better experience for all users thanks to the team’s practices and approach — a process that continues to develop thanks to the company’s collaborative and transparent culture.
“Our experience has taught us that building inclusive products goes beyond meeting baseline standards,” she said. “It requires ongoing communication with users, actively listening to their needs and continuously iterating our product based on their feedback. By fostering a culture of empathy, openness and learning, we can create a more inclusive product that truly meets the diverse needs of our users.”
 
“By fostering a culture of empathy, openness and learning, we can create a more inclusive product that truly meets the diverse needs of our users.”
 
Built In learned more from Grogan about her team’s accessibility accomplishments thus far and how they plan to continue to enhance accessibility and inclusion for all users.
 
Sprout Social provides a platform for businesses to manage social media engagement, publishing and analytics.
 
What sets Sprout Social’s product apart in terms of accessibility?
We’re lucky at Sprout to have support for product accessibility at every level, from our individual contributors to executive leadership. Employees have a deeply empathetic desire to build the best possible experience for all of our customers, our leaders want to support and advocate for the constant improvement of the product, and, universally, everyone demonstrates openness and a willingness to learn.
 
“Employees have a deeply empathetic desire to build the best possible experience for all of our customers.”
 
We are uniquely positioned to move the needle on accessibility in digital marketing overall. As a software company, it’s our responsibility to offer a foundational accessible user experience in our product. And as a leader in social media management, we’re uniquely positioned to encourage our customers to think about inclusive content — making it easier for them to manage their image alt tags or video SRT caption files. 
 
How does Sprout Social seek feedback from users about accessibility?
Sprout’s pProduct iInclusion team actively seeks feedback from our users regarding accessibility through close collaboration with our success team. They serve as a valuable bridge between our customers and our product teams, gathering insights, relaying them to us and connecting us for real-time conversations with customers.
We recently partnered with customers to better understand their alt text management across media platforms, including Sprout Social. This research helped us recognize some quick wins to improve the usability of our alt text management experience in our calendar. 
We’re also lucky to partner with customers like the Royal National Institute of the Blind, who has offered their own recommendations on potential accessibility improvements for screen reader users.
 
What advice do you have for companies hoping to improve product accessibility beyond baseline standards? 
It’’s crucial to get buy-in from all levels of the organization. Executive-level advocates can amplify inclusive messaging and allocate resources for accessibility efforts. It’’s also important to empower and elevate individuals who are passionate about accessibility, highlighting their work and encouraging them to share ideas.
It’’s helpful to expand our understanding of disability beyond technology. Engaging with resources like books such as Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig, podcasts like Included by the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center and following social media influencers like Sinéad Burke or Alex Locust can provide insights and perspectives that reflect a rich myriad of disability experiences and build empathy for the diverse group of users we build for every day.
 
 

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