At GitHub, our mission is to accelerate human progress through developer collaboration. We believe people with disabilities should benefit from and be able to contribute to the creation of that progress.
As the home for all developers, GitHub sits at the foundation of software development, and as such, has a unique role in empowering people with disabilities in digital futures. We are committed to powering that future, and we want to share the next steps on our journey to help bridge the disability divide. Our work is guided by:
- A goal of full and equal participation of people with disabilities in the development process.
- The belief that access to technology is a fundamental human right — everyone deserves to have the opportunity to create, innovate, and collaborate while contributing to our digital future.
- A technology-led approach with our product offerings — built on the foundation of our culture, informed and powered by the insights from developers and the broader disability and accessibility community.
Foundational to our approach to accessibility at GitHub is the principle of “nothing about us without us,” meaning the inclusion of people with disabilities in everything we do. We recently recruited a Head of Accessibility, with lived experience as a person with blindness and a proven track record of building an accessibility program within a large technology company. Our new Head of Accessibility will lead our journey and bring together the diverse efforts taking place across GitHub into a cohesive multi-year strategy, across the four pillars outlined below.
Our commitment to accessibility starts at home, with our employees.
Hubbers are on the front lines of creating the best developer experience possible, by building, testing, and using our products before they ship. One benefit of using GitHub extensively within our own organization is that Hubbers can refine new features and uncover bugs before we ship to our users. We know that when Hubbers more equally reflect and understand the diversity of our users, our offerings work better for everyone.
That’s why we are working to hire more people with lived experiences, upskill all Hubbers on accessibility best practices, and strengthen our culture of inclusion for people with disabilities within GitHub.
While increasing representation starts with improving our hiring practices, our goals for increased accessibility and inclusion will succeed or fail based on our culture. We know Hubbers must be able to bring their whole selves to work to do their best. Our Communities of Belonging (CoBs) help to make that possible, and we’ll continue creating new communities to best serve the needs of Hubbers with disabilities. For example, we recently created Neurocats – a CoB dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of neurodiverse people through action and education. We’re also in the process of creating Ablecats – a CoB that will focus on creating opportunities for all Hubbers with disabilities. Finally, we are deploying company-wide mandatory disability inclusion training to help all Hubbers deepen their understanding of how to foster a culture of inclusivity.
These are just some of the steps we will take internally as we grow our culture of inclusion and representation of people with disabilities. We'll measure our progress through voluntary self-identification and share that progress going forward in our annual diversity report.
As the home for all developers, we want every developer to feel welcome in our community and be empowered to contribute to the future of global software development with everything GitHub has to offer.
Executing on this ambition requires empowering our engineering teams to lower accessibility barriers in our products. To that end, we have brought on embedded accessibility engineers and designers to support our technical teams, and we are rolling out role-based training for our engineering teams to address these challenges more broadly.
We’ll continue to examine our product offerings and look for ways to make them more accessible to all developers to build on GitHub. We know that our existing work, like our accessibility settings and account themes is just a start. That’s why from platform-wide documentation to specific product features, we’re actively working to lower barriers—stay tuned to accessibility.github.com for details on our efforts in the months to come.
In addition to lowering barriers for building on GitHub, we believe we’re in a unique position to create scalable new solutions that could greatly increase the productivity of developers with disabilities. We know disabled developers require different tools to do their best work. We’re engaged with developers that live with various types of disabilities to understand the challenges and opportunities that are unique to them so we can build the solutions they need to do their best work.
Our opportunities for impact include expanding disability inclusion in the open source community, growing the pipeline of developers with disabilities, and fostering innovation of access technologies.
As we make progress within our own four walls, we are eager to increase our impact through collaboration with partners and the open source community. We see three initial opportunities for impact.
First, we believe there is an opportunity to help development teams foster inclusive environments that leverage the strengths and create learning opportunities for developers with disabilities. This opportunity will be realized by building on the initial success of All In, an initiative that brings together corporate partners, industry leaders, researchers, and foundations to create more inclusive open source communities for developers from underrepresented backgrounds. One of the group’s first major efforts was working with the Linux Foundation to identify ways to make open source more inclusive. Now, All In is expanding the next generation of open source leaders and providing training and technical support to maintainers who want to drive diversity and inclusion in their communities.
Second, we know growing the representation of developers with disabilities requires expanding the pipeline. K12 students with disabilities need access to more tools that enable them to learn the basic concepts of Computer Science and get excited about a career in technology. Adults with disabilities need access to informal learning resources that allow them to augment their skills or pivot towards coding for fun or for profit. Finally, Computer Science teachers need better resources to support students with various disabilities. We believe there is an opportunity for GitHub to help accelerate the skilling of future developers with disabilities, while building on our existing GitHub Education programs and our All In for Students pilot.
Third, we are inspired by the inclusive spirit of the community. For example, a search for “accessibility” returns more than 27,000 repositories that demonstrate how developers from across the globe are coming together to build next-generation access technologies. We see a tremendous opportunity to support these efforts and stimulate more innovation in these critical technologies. As more people with disabilities join the open source community, we hope they will feel empowered to build solutions for the challenges they face every day. We are eager to serve as a catalyst for this innovation.
Our promise is to make consistent progress towards our commitment to accessibility, share that progress transparently, and listen and respond to community feedback in a timely manner.
GitHub is at the beginning of a new and exciting phase of our journey towards becoming the most accessible and inclusive platform possible. As we continue this journey, we have several responsibilities for which we will hold ourselves accountable. First, we have a responsibility to make consistent progress towards our overall commitment to accessibility and the specific objectives that have been outlined herein. Second, we have a responsibility to be transparent about our progress. We will fulfill that responsibility by sharing regular updates, including accessibility conformance reports, on accessibility.github.com. Third, we rely on community feedback to inform our efforts and know that we have a responsibility to respond in a timely manner. We look forward to a deeper engagement with the community going forward and invite you to contact us on the accessibility community discussions page with feedback on the work we’re doing, questions about our approach, and ideas for how we can do better.