Engineer Training

Our main goal is to help Facebook's product teams working across platforms to build the most accessible experiences possible. For them to do this, they need to understand how accessibility works on their platforms. Most engineers coming from both industry and academia have had little exposure to the field of accessibility (there are exceptions, of course, but they are few). We can't expect people who have never heard of accessibility to be equipped to build accessible software applications. So we train them.

Here are a few guiding principles for our approach to education:

  1. Because accessibility is most important for user-facing interactions, we focus on training the engineers who work on this part of the codebase.
  2. iOS, Android and web have similar best practices, but slightly different implementations. We cover these platforms individually.
  3. We only cover the things we want generalist engineers to own. We have focused training on things that get them 90% of the way there (For example: buttons should have labels).
  4. The training is only a springboard for people to learn more. We don’t expect people to leave as experts. There will always be harder technical challenges that require expertise from people who understand accessibility intimately.

We have three formal training programs within engineering:

  1. All new engineers go through a general six week bootcamp training at Facebook. For the engineers that decide to work on our front end stack, we provide an in-depth introduction to Facebook’s web infrastructure that includes best practices for accessibility and points engineers to available resources. We have similar coverage for iOS and Android.
  2. Even if you aren't new, you can attend monthly sessions that cover Facebook’s web stack and our iOS/Android frameworks. These standing talks include best practices for accessibility and call out available resources for further help.
  3. An external organization runs our iOS and Android training. They explain the accessibility APIs and tools available on these platforms and provide engineers with some hands-on time with VoiceOver and TalkBack.

One final note: the most important training doesn’t happen through the structured education process listed above. It happens in the real world, when bugs and improvements are surfaced through QA and people using Facebook. Our Accessibility team works with the engineer who owns that code to help them understand the challenges, design solutions and implement successfully.

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