“We have the freedom to explore new things and develop new skills.” — Aaron Stephenson, Senior iOS Developer and Accessibility Champion, UBank
When you start digging into Aaron Stephenson’s interests, there’s a dominant theme: looking at things from a different perspective, which often means going the extra mile.
For instance, Aaron’s self-described “relaxing” hobby, astrophotography, involves waiting for the perfect, moonlight-free conditions and then heading out at a chilly 2am to capture photos of the cosmos.
But Aaron’s even more interested in what’s happening here on Earth – especially if it involves making things fairer and easier for people.
As an accessibility champion, Aaron is responsible for seeing UBank products from the perspectives of people with different abilities and providing feedback to make apps as accessible as possible. He works across a variety of teams to review design features or conduct audits, probing for issues like colour contrasts or unidentified user interface (UI) elements that could make different types of interactions harder.
“Someone might come to me with a design and I have to think about ways that people could interact with it,” explains Aaron. “So, if you can't touch your phone screen, how would you interact with that? If you can’t see the screen, does VoiceOver have the right information to help you navigate easily?
“There's a few different pieces to the puzzle that all need to come together.”
Aaron’s passion for accessibility doesn’t stop with the UBank app. Not only did he create an Accessibility Kit through UBank, an open-source project to help all designers and developers with accessibility, but he developed an app that translates Braille to text in his spare time. (Remember when we said he goes the extra mile to see from new perspectives? Well, he taught himself Braille)
He lists the Accessibility Kit as a career highlight, crediting UBank’s collaborative, caring mindset as a factor in its success and the decision to release the framework for everyone. He also describes ample opportunities to pursue new skills.
“Our team has the freedom to explore new things and develop new skills, even if they’re not of immediate benefit to UBank, as long as we’re developing in a positive way. And often that learning does end up providing solutions for the business, even if it’s 12 months down the track.”
Aaron’s first interactions with UBank were through contract roles, when he helped rebuild the UBank app. He mentions the culture and people are his biggest reasons for enjoying working at UBank.
“It’s been the best place I've worked by far,” says Aaron. “Everyone cares about their work and each other, so we’re all trying to work to a very high standard while also giving people space for ‘off days’ – which has been really important during COVID-19.”
“It’s just refreshing.”
A few fun facts about Aaron:
- His favourite UBank memory is “Burger Wednesday,” a pre-COVID weekly ritual where Aaron’s team would head to Five Points Burgers for lunch, often bringing tagalongs from other teams. “We respect team bonding, especially when burgers are involved.”
- His favourite app? Twitter, which helps him keep up with industry trends but also others interested in accessibility, like his friend who tweets prolifically despite a lack of motor control below his neck. “It's a super accessible medium, so it puts everyone on the same playing field.”
- Aaron’s usually busy with his family or working on his translation app but, on the off chance he has time for television, he likes The Block. “Who doesn't love The Block, watching people build stuff?”
Right now, Daft Punk is getting the most play at Aaron’s house. “The Tron: Legacy soundtrack, it’s just on repeat every day.”