Building Accessible Design Systems

June 25, 6:00 - 9:00PM @SlackHQ, 500 Howard St. San Francisco

Join us for a conversation on evolving design systems to be inclusive, accessible, and empowering for all users and cross-functional teams. 

Design systems leaders from Google, Lyft and LinkedIn will share their methods and learnings on how to design a system around situations, how quality principles and guidelines adapt, why accessibility, legibility, and tap targets matter, and how to tackle your design system from a situational perspective.


Raising the bar of your design system

We all know how design systems benefit teams and users by driving consistency and saving time. A design system that considers accessibility early on can increase the value of the system as well as raise the bar on the quality of design. 

In this talk Jen will share how bake accessibility into a design system from the beginning along with examples of how designing for accessibility can improve overall design.

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Design Systems for All Users & Situations

Respected design systems like Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Material Design cover best practices for the most common user situation: focused on their phone, holding it about 12” away. But how do we adjust that guidance when our user is trying to maneuver a car through a busy city following instructions to pick up a stranger through 2 second glances at a phone mounted 24” away?

Linzi will share how Lyft went about designing a system around situations, how their quality principles and guidelines adapt, why accessibility, legibility, and tap targets matter, and how you can begin to tackle your design system from a situational perspective.

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Falling Into the Pit of Success

Design systems can be viewed as the bedrock foundation for accessibility, but can instead be a house of cards if not built inclusively from the ground up. Understanding and appreciation for accessibility and inclusion can vary wildly from team to team. No matter where your organization is with regards to accessibility, or the scale of your team, your design system has an incredibly important role to play in realizing the potential for your products to create bridges rather than barriers. 

In this talk, Nate will be sharing practical examples on how to approach technical accessibility for your system and tips on how to leverage your system for the greatest accessibility impact in your organization. 

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6:00 - 6:30 pm Check-in & Networking. Food & Drinks will be provided.

6:30 - 6:55 pm Talk by Jen Kozensky Devins, Google

6:55 - 8:00 pm Talk + Partnered Work by Linzi Berry, Lyft

8:00 - 8:30 pm Talk by Nate Whitson, Linkedin

8:30 - 9:00 pm More Networking

We will open the evening with two talks discussing methods and learnings on how to go about designing accessible systems. The session will then move to partnered work led by Linzi Berry, Design Systems Lead at Lyft. Various accessibility scenarios are put up on a slide. We will pair into teams. Each pair must practice working through these scenarios while analyzing an app on accessibility mode. After the partnered work, the group will come back together and discuss their challenges as well as lessons learned. We will continue the event with another talk falling into the pit of success.


Jen Kozenski Devins - Head of Google Accessibility UX, Google

Jen has been a UX Designer for 20 years and over time found herself immersed in the world of inclusive design and accessibility. Her goal is to learn from users and educate product teams on ways to make products more inclusive. During her career at Google, Jen was a design manager on products such as Search, Google Analytics, and G Suite and is now the Head of Google Accessibility UX. Before Google, she worked on the main shopping experience at eBay.


Linzi Berry - Design Systems Lead, Lyft

Linzi Berry is a product designer living on the outskirts of Oakland. Linzi currently leads the Design Systems team at Lyft, who are responsible for building, maintaining and supporting ‘Lyft Product Language’ which spans across mobile and web. Previously she designed digital branding and systems agency side for 7+ years for brands like Tesla, SpaceX, Hennessy, Audemars Piguet, and Fitbit. Dedicated to giving back to the digital design community that taught her, Linzi shares her detailed thoughts on the Medium Tap to Dismiss.


Nate Whitson - Sr. Principal Designer, LinkedIn

Nate works as a Sr. Principal Designer at LinkedIn. He’s been with the company for over 6 years where he helped build out Art Deco, LinkedIn’s current-gen system supporting Android, iOS and Web. Nate has designed icon systems, built custom translation tools to test design concepts in different languages, crafted accessibility checklists and training, and served as creative director for systems-led product rebranding at scale.