Craftzing people: Head of inclusion & accessibility specialist Gijs Veyfeyken
Meet Gijs: passionate about making digital experiences inclusive for everyone. As head of inclusion and accessibility specialist, he plays a pivotal role in guiding companies and governmental entities to enhance the accessibility of their digital products and services. Discover why he's so passionate about accessibility and how he aims to create a more inclusive digital landscape.
You are head of inclusion at Craftzing. What does that role entail?
My role involves guiding both companies and governmental entities in enhancing the accessibility of their digital products and services. I specialize in optimizing websites, apps, and other digital platforms, ensuring they are more user-friendly for individuals with disabilities, including those with visual or hearing impairments and motor limitations. My tasks encompass offering expert advice, conducting audits based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and delivering comprehensive training on digital accessibility to designers, developers, and editors.
Where did your story as an accessibility specialist begin?
With a tenure of 16 years in the field, my interest in accessibility stems from a personal connection. My uncle, whom I share a strong bond with, relies on a wheelchair due to an accident and resides in a facility with assistance from the rehabilitation center in Pelt. I visit him regularly, and when I was a student in Communication & Multimedia Design looking for a thesis topic, I connected the dots. How can ICT make life easier for the residents and patients of the rehabilitation center?
The transition from a thesis on assistive devices to a career in web accessibility was seamless. I gained a wealth of experience at AnySurfer, during a project of the Blindenzorg Licht en Liefde association. After several years as a freelance accessibility specialist, I joined Craftzing in March 2023. With Craftzing we are establishing an entire team of accessibility specialists with the goal of maximizing the impact for Craftzing's clients.
Achieving success in accessibility requires integration across all domains, including design, UX, UI, front-end development, strategy, product management, and editing. While it can become highly technical, the ultimate focus remains on people — this is my driving force: making it work for everybody.
What aspects make your work as an accessibility specialist particularly captivating?
The diversity and variety of tasks. Achieving success in accessibility requires integration across all domains, including design, UX, UI, front-end development, strategy, product management, and editing. While it can become highly technical, the ultimate focus remains on people — this is my driving force: making it work for everybody.
How would you describe the current state of accessibility in the digital products and services we use daily?
There is substantial room for improvement. Annually, WEBAIM conducts a study testing over 1 million top-ranked homepages for accessibility criteria. Shockingly, more than 95% exhibit issues such as low contrasts, missing alt-texts, or buttons lacking names that can be read by screen readers. The creation of new content often neglects accessibility considerations, making retroactive accessibility implementation impractical. To foster progress, a structural shift is essential, and forthcoming European legislation could provide the needed impetus.
Everyone deserves full participation in the digital world, and this should serve as motivation in itself. Accessible services not only positively influence how individuals perceive a company but also prevent the negative characterization of exclusion.
Apart from the European Accessibility Act 2025, what should motivate companies to prioritize digital accessibility?
First and foremost, the human and ethical aspect. Everyone deserves full participation in the digital world, and this should serve as motivation in itself. Accessible services not only positively influence how individuals perceive a company but also prevent the negative characterization of exclusion.
Economically, catering to the 87 million people with disabilities in the European Union expands reach, potentially leading to higher revenue. Additionally, individuals with disabilities often form a loyal customer base. A visually impaired or blind individual using a screen reader tends to return to the same online store due to a lack of accessible alternatives.
Lastly, the "curb cut effect" is noteworthy. Adjustments made for people with disabilities often benefit a much larger audience. The removal of a curb cut for a wheelchair user, for instance, proves useful for parents with strollers, children with balance bikes, individuals with scooters, and so on. This principle holds true for digital accessibility as well — essential for some, useful for all.
Why do you think more companies are not prioritizing digital accessibility?
The primary obstacle is a lack of awareness. Even when it is recognized, accessibility often arises at the end of the decision-making process when crucial decisions have already been made.
Approach accessibility as a marathon, not a sprint, adhering to the principle of "progress over perfection." Integrate digital accessibility into your daily workflow, consistently advancing and avoiding backward steps.
What advice would you offer to organizations looking to implement digital accessibility in their offerings?
Consider digital accessibility as early as possible in the design and development process, akin to building a house. If you account for a wheelchair user during the design stage, complications are avoided. Making it accessible later would necessitate breaking down walls and modifying the entire structure because the doors are not wide enough. That's an entirely different scenario.
Additionally, don't approach accessibility as a quick afterthought. Approach it as a marathon, not a sprint, adhering to the principle of "progress over perfection." Integrate digital accessibility into your daily workflow, consistently advancing and avoiding backward steps.
Craftzing is actively seeking specialists to expand its team. Why should someone interested in working in digital accessibility apply to Craftzing?
Craftzing boasts an impressive portfolio of clients, ensuring that the work of an accessibility specialist has a significant impact. As the first major agency in Belgium fully committed to inclusion, Craftzing is dedicated to making accessibility mainstream. Unlike the challenges faced by accessibility specialists in convincing internal stakeholders elsewhere, here, you receive support rather than resistance.
Moreover, the atmosphere is just great here — from the "bad memes" Slack channel to thought-provoking sessions, the Craftzing mentality prioritizes creating a stimulating environment. It's not just a cliché; a sense of well-being is actively fostered to enhance performance.
While an accessibility specialist often transitions from another field like front-end development, UX, or UI design, this is by no means a strict requirement to join our accessibility team. Craftzing welcomes anyone passionate about inclusion.
What specific profiles are you seeking to expand the digital inclusion team?
While an accessibility specialist often transitions from another field like front-end development, UX, or UI design, this is by no means a strict requirement. Craftzing welcomes anyone passionate about inclusion. The ideal candidate enjoys testing, possesses a curious mindset when faced with challenges, can explain complex issues in a simple way, and finds satisfaction in devising solutions that make products easier for everyone. If this resonates with you, we encourage you to respond to the job vacancy.
By Michele Stynen