It’s easy to take for granted how significantly computers, tablets, and mobile devices have changed our jobs and lives — offering nearly instant access to an endless array of tools and information whenever and wherever we need it.
For the 253 million people around the world with visual impairments — of whom 36 million are blind — all that information is sitting there at their fingertips, but without the proper accessibility tools, it might as well be a million miles away.
Fortunately, there are people like Jeremiah Rogers who advocate for improving and enhancing online accessibility for the blind and visually impaired community.
Rogers himself was born blind. His parents instilled in him the importance of not letting that dictate what his life could become. Today, Rogers continues to embody that self-sufficient determination both in his professional life as a digital accessibility consultant for Wells Fargo and as a husband and father of three.
“I’m not ashamed of being blind. Most of the time I’m not even inconvenienced by being blind,” said Rogers. “Sometimes blindness very much impacts the methods or tools that I use to do my job, but at the end of the day, being blind should not define who I am.”
Rogers considers himself a puzzle solver. He uses tools like a Braille display or a screen reader to access online information, and at work, helps Wells Fargo develop accessibility enhancements for things like the company’s iOS apps and online bill pay services.
“I’m not a trained computer programmer or web designer — what makes me employable and what keeps me around is the ability to take different pieces of information and put them to work in other places,” Rogers said. “My strength is communication and helping different people understand what they need to build a functional puzzle.”
Rogers has extended his advocacy for assistive technology outside the workplace, too, educating teachers on its importance and speaking to individuals with vision-related disabilities about maximizing their knowledge of assistive technology as part of a strategy for independence.
“Assistive technology and what are called the skills of blindness are synonymous to me with what a driver’s license and a car provide to a sighted person — freedom and self-reliance,” said Rogers. “I feel like Wells Fargo’s leadership genuinely supports and pursues accessibility in our digital and online banking products and services. And I’m proud to contribute to it in some way.”
In 2017, Careers & the disABLED magazine recognized Rogers as one of ten recipients of its Annual Employee of the Year Awards.
Kathy Martinez, who leads Wells Fargo’s Disability and Accessibility Strategy and is also blind, said the recognition for Rogers is well-deserved and critical to building a society that is physically and digitally accessible for people with disabilities.
“Not only is Jeremiah a wonderful colleague, he is a role model for everyone — whether living with a disability or not — in the way he seeks to improve both himself and the world around him,” said Martinez. “In leading by example, Jeremiah is helping change attitudes about the capabilities of people with disabilities and our desire to contribute to our communities and corporations.”