Centering our work.

Promotional Image for El Deafo, featuring the titular character.

We spend a lot of time at Tamman learning, talking, writing, and working in the digital accessibility space. Building the inclusive web is our full time job and we take the responsibility seriously. We use Slack at Tamman and it has channels and channels devoted to updates and information about the nuances and specifics of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). We share information about our projects and the process of building a more inclusive web. These are critical pieces to our work, but they are not inspiring in and of themselves. 

That is why when my colleague Jeff posted this in slack, I got so excited.

Jeff Wiesner from Tamman posts in the Tamman Slack about "El Deafo".

If you’re unfamiliar as I was with El Deafo, it is a graphic novel based on the childhood of the author, Cece Bell, who after a bout with Meningitis as a toddler, loses most of her hearing. I will not spoil it from here, but please take it from me, it is a wonderful show. Even if your world does not intersect with that of disabilities or digital accessibility in any way, it is worth your time.

It was a simple post. It was a simple idea and it was not mandatory for anyone to attend. And for those colleagues of mine who were on a call or working on a deadline, I certainly understand not feeling like the pilot of a cartoon based on a graphic novel by Cece Bell was a top priority in their day. 

When the appointed day and hour arrived, so many of my colleagues took the time to hop on. A few were even able to bring in their own children to watch which I found absolutely wonderful – like bring your child to work or more accurately bring work home I suppose. Jeff welcomed everyone and gave some introductory remarks that in retrospect were quite understated. He said that he had watched this series with his daughter and saw the obvious connections to our work at Tamman.

A zoom call showing of "El Deafo" attended by several Tamman employees.

I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but the storytelling from the perspective of Cece was quite powerful. The author brings you into her world quite literally through the use of sound, or at times lack thereof. 

Following the screening we had a robust slack conversation about the episode. My colleagues and I all identified the immediate connection to Cece and her experience. It is pretty hard not to. This work of art reinforced to each of us that our mission is not found in the day-to-day digital projects or client services, but in the people who consume our work. El Deafo reminded us to keep the focus of our work centered on people.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jeff. It is important in any work to take a little time to get inspired. His attention to that detail by scheduling this shared event was wonderful. Made all the better and perhaps more important as we are all working remotely. 

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