A smiling young black woman with her hair up, wearing a blue top, sitting in a leather chair with a red curtain behind her.
Ire Aderinokun, developer. Image: Florian Ziegler

‘I think people don’t focus enough on accessibility in tech’

25 Oct 2018

Ire Aderinokun is a self-taught front-end developer and UI designer based in Lagos, Nigeria.

From software development to web development, from front-end to back-end, the career paths you can choose in the world of development are an endless realm of opportunities.

Aside from the multiple routes you can take, there are also multiple ways to start out on those routes.

Take Ire Aderinokun for example. She is a self-taught front-end developer and user interface (UI) designer based in Lagos, Nigeria. She started her career working as a freelance developer in 2014.

“After doing that for a few months, I worked at a media company in Nigeria, Big Cabal, for a few years as their head of technology. Then, I went on to work at Eyeo, the company behind products such as Adblock Plus,” she said. “Now, I’m building a start-up called BuyCoins, a cryptocurrency exchange for Africa.”

Aderinokun’s role changed gradually as she moved to different companies. “I’ve developed from doing more general work to doing more specific and specialised work in front-end development. Now, I’ve moved towards teaching/managing others and, even though I still do a lot of development work myself, I focus more on the ‘big picture’.”

When asked what people aren’t focusing on enough at the moment when it comes to technology, she said: “I think people don’t focus enough on accessibility.”

‘If the people calling the shots take accessibility more seriously, the people creating the websites will have to as well’

She believes a lot of people tend to think of accessibility as something that’s ‘nice to have’ or simply an afterthought. “A lot of people also seem to think that you can’t have a nicely designed website that is also accessible. Because of this, accessibility isn’t really ingrained in the entire process of building a product, from research to design to implementation. And it leads to people trying to ‘fix’ things when it may be almost too late.”

When it comes to improvement, Aderinokun said it’s up to the companies to place more importance on accessibility. “Make it one of the requirements/goals for a successful project for it to also be accessible,” she said. “If the people calling the shots take it more seriously, the people creating the websites will have to as well. It’s similar to how performance has become more important.”

Advice for budding developers

Having learned development herself, Aderinokun has forged a successful career. However, she said she wish she knew starting out that no one knows everything. “People specialise and it’s OK to not know how to work with every technology or framework.”

For those coming up the career ladder behind her, she wanted to impress upon them the value of continuing, even through the difficult periods. “Development can be frustrating, but it is also very rewarding – so, if it is something you are interested in, you should keep at it.”

Finally, what does a productive day for a developer look like? Aderinokun’s number-one productivity tip involves dividing her day into blocks. “I know I’m the most alert in the mornings, so I try and do all the tasks that either require a lot of my attention, or I find less interesting, during this time,” she said.

“I tend to save the fun things, such as actual development work, for the afternoons because I know I can do it at pretty much any time and it’s something to look forward to. Another tip is to mute notifications on your laptop/phone while you’re working.”

Ire Aderinokun is speaking about her experience developing websites for users in Nigeria at Pixel Pioneers Belfast on 23 November.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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