How Buoy Health partnered with Fable to take a proactive approach to improving accessibility

Historically, as a busy startup with conflicting priorities, Buoy Health found itself responding to accessibility problems as they came up rather than taking a proactive approach. Now, with Fable, their team is able to research and plan for accessibility, with a goal of building stellar user experiences for everyone.

Buoy
Buoy

How Buoy Health partnered with Fable to take a proactive approach to improving accessibility

Historically, as a busy startup with conflicting priorities, Buoy Health found itself responding to accessibility problems as they came up rather than taking a proactive approach. Now, with Fable, their team is able to research and plan for accessibility, with a goal of building stellar user experiences for everyone.

Buoy Health is a healthcare navigation platform that helps people figure out health issues and find the right care. To date, they have raised over $60 million and have helped more than 10 million individuals make more informed decisions about their health.

During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, they’ve helped nearly 1 million Americans find care in their community, which has saved medical professionals nearly 30,000 hours of time.

Given the fast-moving and critical nature of their innovative work, they’re also committed to making their platform more accessible to as many people as possible, including seniors and people with disabilities.

Ramping up accessibility

Joel Wong is a senior product designer who leads the Accessibility team at Buoy. In 2020, Joel and the Buoy leadership team decided to make accessibility a top priority. Taking a crawl, walk, run approach, Joel first prioritized meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) guidelines, which included making quick but efficient updates to buttons and adding alternative text to images.

But Joel knew Buoy could – and needed to – take accessibility to the next level.

Joel Wong, a young Asian male with black hair wearing a pink t-shirt against a background of graffiti.

Joel knew Buoy could take a more proactive approach to ensuring its platform was accessible to the masses. By partnering with Fable, a leading accessibility testing platform powered by people with disabilities, Joel and his team were able to do just that.

“Fable provides an end-to-end test. We’ve shifted our approach to addressing accessibility at a more macro level, as opposed to fixing small, but mighty, issues sporadically.” – Joel Wong, Senior Product Designer

Although healthcare as an industry took somewhat of a backseat in the digital revolution, today’s consumers expect healthcare to be in line with its predecessors. Point blank, consumers demand greater usability when engaging with technology – and the healthcare industry is no different.

After consulting with customers, Buoy knew it needed to prioritize efforts to increase its accessibility.

Harry Kran-Annexstein is a white male with fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. He is wearing a dark brown collared shoot and in the background is a lamp and also a poster of a heart valve.

After partnering with Fable, Buoy’s approach to the accessibility process has changed. Whether it’s a UX researcher, a designer, or an engineer, the Buoy team is thinking about people with disabilities first. And using Fable, allows Buoy to connect directly with assistive technology users as it strategically and proactively improves its accessibility functions.

Harry Kran-Annexstein, a developer with the team, leverages the Quality Assurance (QA) sessions on Fable. QA Sessions allow users to connect directly with an assistive technology user, who also has experience with web development and/or QA. “I’m an active participant in the technical QA sessions with Fable, which provides me with a real-time, insider experience as I work alongside assistive technology users engaging with Buoy’s platform.”

Over time, Harry realized with Fable, he was able to glean more actionable insights out of the experience vs. running quick automated tests.

The experience continues to expose team members to the myriad of diversity of assistive technology users. “Buoy’s approach to product development isn’t a one-fits-all approach – and that includes serving the needs of people with disabilities who use different types of assistive technologies,” said Becki Choi, senior product designer. “We’re able to now tweak our products based on real experiences we’ve witnessed in sessions with Fable, which allows us to directly impact the end-user experience and improve our accessibility standards.”

And it’s not only front-line team members who’ve noticed the shift and the focus on accessibility. Buoy leadership has also noticed positive changes.

Loi Sessions Goulet, PhD., Buoy’s head of user research, previously served in research leadership roles at Tripadvisor and Facebook. “At other organizations, it was challenging to recru