I lost my vision in college and am now head of Google’s accessibility testing team. Here’s what a typical day is like.

headshot of Jyotsna Kaki

This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Jyotsna Kaki, a 38-year-old accessibility testing program manager at Google in Mountain View, CA, about her daily routine. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I’m an accessibility testing program manager at Google, where I work across a wide range of products including Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite), Google Lens, cloud-gaming service Stadia, Google’s accessibility apps Lookout and Voice Access, Google Shopping, and more. 

About six months before I was set to complete my college degree, I lost my vision — but was determined to forge forward and graduated with honors a year later.

I joined Google in 2006 as one of the company’s first software test accessibility engineers. It was my first job.

group shot of Google's central accessibility team

A few years later, along with other Google employees (also known as Googlers), I started Google’s Accessibility Discovery Center, a space within our Mountain View office that houses a variety of assistive technology that people are able to experience and test.

Now, I lead our team of 15 engineers that test new products to make them more inclusive and accommodating to people with disabilities.

Accessibility is a much broader space than many people think

group of Google employees at Disneyland

In addition to helping people with permanent disabilities, an emphasis on accessibility can also be helpful to people who might have a situational disability (for example, the sun is too bright to see your screen) or a temporary disability (for example, a broken leg or a concussion).

Aside from my day job, I’m also passionate about improving the overall Google experience and onboarding process for other Googlers with disabilities.

When I started at Google, I was hired and onboarded just like any other employee and had to work with various teams to set up the accommodations I needed to work after the fact.

Now, if a new employee shares/discloses their disability, Google will provide and set up all the necessary accommodations ahead of the onboarding process so they can start their work without any difficulties on the first day. Additionally, they’re paired up with another Googler with a similar or the same disability as their mentor to provide a smooth onboarding experience for the new hire.

My typical workday starts at 6 a.m.

Jyotsna Kaki watering her plants

I wake up with the help of my Google Home, which I’m heavily dependent on for alarms and to look up the weather, quick facts, music, and more.

After I take a shower and play games such as "Puzzle of the Day" or "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" I practice yoga and water my plants.

At 8 a.m., it’s time to wake up my 6-year-old daughter and get her ready for school

Jyotsna Kaki and her family on a couch

We have chocolate crepes with a glass of milk for breakfast. I sign in to work at 9 a.m. from my daughter’s bedroom, as my husband and I are both still working remotely. 

I start my day by catching up on emails and missed chats via Google Assistant on my phone. 

At 10 a.m., I spend an hour checking to see if there are any performance and quality issues I can address or escalate

A panel of people talking

When needed, I serve as a mediator, making sure that the accessibility testing process runs smoothly and there’s an open line of communication between the test engineers and product teams. 

I lead a biweekly meeting at 11 a.m. with other accessibility testing leads. Recently, we talked about ways to introduce more automated testing tools that would make it easier and quicker for product teams to identify accessibility issues. 

I head off to my kitchen at noon to make lunch: dosas (a south-Indian, salty pancake-like dish) with roasted chickpea and peanut chutney. It’s back to work at 1 p.m.

I test software using different screen readers, including ChromeVox, all of which can help people who are visually impaired navigate a computer by vocalizing what’s being shown on their screen. I also use TalkBack to work on improving Lookout, which I personally use with different tasks like putting groceries in their proper place. 

My team of testers works to make our products more accessible based on our internal guidelines, which cover the more technical components of accessibility, like proper labeling, contrast, etc. But I also encourage them to consider whether or not the experience of using the product is actually a good one for someone using assistive technology. 

From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., I’m in meetings

A woman presenting to a crowd of people at work

As a member of the Google Disability Alliance, I meet with another Googler who has a visual impairment for a mentoring session. 

The conversations are often open-ended, but today we talked about good career paths in tech for individuals who are visually impaired.

I also often get asked about my experience at Google, accommodations, and equitable practices that Google offers to its employees with disabilities and how to achieve work-life balance.

I finish up my day by meeting with product teams and setting up accessibility testing training sessions. 

After work, I unwind by taking a walk around the neighborhood with a friend

Then, I move onto my "motherly duties," such as giving my daughter a bath and feeding her dinner, using Google Docs to view my saved recipes.

I love cooking, but also enjoy baking with my daughter, as I know that I can do it safely. My daughter measures and adds the ingredients to the bowl and mixes everything together while I handle the rest. I’m looking forward to sharing my baked goods with my coworkers once we’re back in the office!

At 8 p.m., I check emails and my calendar for the next day, as well as address any last-minute needs at work

Afterward, you can likely find me watching old Indian movies while knitting scarves and blankets to give as gifts or donate.

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Robin Madell August 20, 2021 at 08:18PM

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