Accessibility experience designer competed in his fourth National Beep Baseball Association World Series this year
When it comes to work, Tracey Jackson helps ensure that U.S. Bank digital services are accessible for people who have disabilities. And when it comes to play, Jackson competes in beep baseball, a sport that is accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Jackson joined U.S. Bank almost three years ago and works as an accessibility experience designer, evaluating the images and text the bank uses in its mobile banking apps and digital banking tools for desktop and laptop users.
“We make sure that accessibility is considered in the design because when access is considered throughout the ideation of the design phase, it reduces the chances of a product having accessibility issues when it goes into development,” Jackson said. “We base our guidance on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and use the current international standards.”
Jackson began playing beep baseball about 10 years ago when he joined a local team in Georgia, where he lives.
“I ended up playing with three different teams here in Georgia and made it to the Georgia State Games,” he said. “I’m a Georgia State Games Gold Medal winner. Ironically, I played my worst game that day, but the guys around me were on, so we won.”
As the name suggests, beep baseball includes a ball that beeps so that athletes who are blind or visually impaired are able to locate it by sound.
There are only two bases in the game, first base and third base, and they’re four-foot-tall padded cylinders equipped with speakers that make a buzzing sound. When batters hit the ball, one of the bases will start buzzing, meaning batters don’t know which base they need to run to until after they hit the ball.
There are six fielders who cover different zones. If a fielder picks up a batted ball before the hitter makes it to the designated base, the batter is out. If the batter gets to the base before a fielder gets the ball, it counts as a run. There is no running between bases.
The pitcher and catcher are not visually impaired and pitchers pitch to their own team, with the goal of throwing a pitch the batter can hit. Because players have different levels of visual disabilities, the batter and fielders wear blindfolds. There will also be at least one spotter in the field who isn’t visually impaired and can give limited instructions to fielders, with the goal of helping to prevent fielders from colliding while going after a ball.
“The spotters don’t always save us,” Jackson said. “There are collisions and some of us can get pretty banged up.”
Jackson has competed in the National Beep Baseball Association World Series four times, including this year and last year with the Texas-based Tyler Tigers.
“There haven’t always been a lot of options for us when it comes to competing at that level and it’s wonderful when you can do this,” he said. “The competition and the camaraderie with the different teams is second to none.”
Accessibility in action
It’s a similar camaraderie that Jackson said he loves about his team at the bank. Because he and his fellow accessibility experience designers are embedded within each of the digital product teams, they can have a significant impact on the way digital tools like the mobile app and online banking look and function.
The team works to help U.S. Bank clients do their digital banking with simplicity and ease – regardless of any permanent, situational or temporary disability.
Jackson said he’s already looking forward to next year’s Beep Baseball World Series.
“Oh man, I love playing,” he said. “There are only three things I love more than the sport of beep baseball: my faith in God, my family and what I do every day when I show up to work, which is to make a difference in individuals’ lives by empowering them to impact the world through accessible products.”
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