Chris Higgins, Director
Chris Higgins is a writer and documentary filmmaker based in Portland, Oregon. He writes for Mental Floss, This American Life, The Techmeme Ride Home Podcast, and various other outlets. He made this film. He’s also managing editor of Delve, a story studio.
Cory Joseph, Subject
Cory Joseph is a User Experience Program Manager at Microsoft. During the filming of Access, he was a Human Interaction and User Experience Engineer, consulting for a large technology firm in the Pacific Northwest.
Some Access History
Way back in 2015, Lucid Meetings approached me (Chris) to make a film about accessibility. They had recently rearchitected their entire product with inclusion in mind, and wanted to share that experience with others. So I interviewed several members of the Lucid team, along with members of the accessibility community, including Sina Bahram, Marcy Sutton, and Gian Wild. The resulting half-hour film was shown at Accessing Higher Ground in November 2015, and audience feedback was clear: I had accidentally made a film about accessibility professionals, not about accessibility. Oops. (The goal, to be clear, was to make a short film that someone with no knowledge of accessibility could enjoy, and become inspired to make their own work accessible. I didn’t hit that mark with the first cut.)
So I went back to the drawing board, and met Cory Joseph at a Portland meetup for accessibility professionals. I explained the situation to him and he volunteered to be interviewed. After a series of three filmed interviews, I ended up shelving all the previous footage and focusing the movie entirely on Cory. It seemed far simpler to explain how Cory, as a real user of accessible technology, gets things done—and by witnessing what he does, it opens the audience’s mind to our responsibilities as creators. Also, by making the film using inclusive practices—for instance, adding Audio Description and Closed Captions to the version that everyone experiences—there’s another layer here showing how you can design a product, like a short film, to work for the broadest possible audience.
Unfortunately this leaves dozens of hours of excellent footage sitting on a hard drive, unused. (You can check out a trailer with some of this footage hosted by AccessibilityOz.) I’d like to make this available in some form, though at the moment, need some funding to get it done. Please contact me if you’re interested in funding or otherwise exploring future films in the Access series.