Meet the Accessibility Roundtable: Emily Zussman

Meet the Accessibility Roundtable: In this series, we’ll be getting to know the team members that make up this cross-departmental working group to improve OneTable’s accessibility (learn more about the Accessibility Roundtablehere). Join Naomi (they/them), Miami Field Manager, and Emily Zussman (she/her), Director of People & Field Operations, in a conversation about Zuss’ story, why she joined the roundtable, and what she loves about this work.

What does accessibility mean to you?

I come from a social work background, a people-centered background. I’m all about people and making sure that everyone is able to reap the beautiful benefits of OneTable in a way that is meaningful and possible for them — both internally and externally. Specifically, in my People role, I’m thinking a lot about our team and our work together internally. 

How does accessibility strengthen our OneTable community? 

With one of our core values being welcoming and hospitality, it would feel really wrong if accessibility was not a key component of that work. Even for those who might not have different ability needs, it’s important for them to see that we are thinking about this at the forefront of our work. It’s really vital to us that everyone can see our tooltips on the side of our website platform or learn that we have this roundtable. Centering accessibility really pushes our values forward in the way that we want to be seen in the world. 

A headshot of OneTable's Director of People and Field Operations Emily Zussman

What’s a change or project you’ve been part of working on to improve OneTable’s accessibility functions for the team and/or users?

Since OneTable is a dispersed workplace, we have done (and are consistently doing) a lot of work on making sure our virtual culture and workplace is accessible. We primarily do so by updating and setting norms for the way that we work, for example: sharing out documents in advance for those who might benefit from reading text before it’s shared on a screen, sharing documents out afterward, asking about accessibility needs in hiring contexts, surveying the team about needs when planning for our retreat event, and enabling closed captions on Zoom. As we prepare for our first in person retreat in a few years, we are starting to bring accessibility to the forefront in a way that we don’t always have to think about when working virtually together.

What’s something you are excited to learn more about?

I am always excited to learn what brings other people on our team to the table or what questions are coming up for our users! I am super excited about the training for the accessibility OneTable Conversations we will be bringing to the team and in turn to our users. I am looking forward to figuring out how to cover such a vast topic in a way that is not surface level and that is relevant to the work that we are doing. 

In what ways does the work of your specific department need to be mindful of accessibility needs?

My goal always with our organizational culture is that folks feel a sense of belonging and welcoming. Our mission for folks to feel around the Shabbat table is the same feeling I want to be emulated for our mission internally, even in the virtual space. If accessibility is not considered, it can cause someone to feel isolated. It is important to work at a place where this conversation is alive and folks know this is a roundtable that exists, and that we are open to feedback and suggestions for how to do it better. We have started the work, but there is so much more to do in order to build the type of space that we can share. This is the work I want to be doing for many years. If someone’s basic needs are not met, how can you expect them to experience the magic that OneTable creates, whether internally or externally?

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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