LGND was founded on the belief that in order to inspire change and help good ideas win, you have to lift insights off the page. When building our talented team, we’ve always valued those who design, write, and code with purpose and with intention. When launching digital products, our intention is about more than simply aesthetic or functionality— it’s about accessibility.
When we first reached out to Ryan Hudson-Peralta, an accomplished web and UI designer, it was because our team was impressed by his portfolio. On top of this, his inspirational story shared a lifetime of obstacles and doubts he has overcome to reach each accomplishment.
Ryan is a loving husband and father, a motivational speaker, and an aspiring comedian with a prolific collection of hats and shoes. His design portfolio includes over 700 websites and branding projects, and clients ranging from the U.S. Army to Apple. Ryan was also born with a congenital limb deficiency, meaning he has shortened legs and arms and no hands. But when Ryan describes himself, he emphasizes wanting to be defined by his passions and accomplishments, not by his disability.
Accessibility for everyone means that when you create, when you design, when you build, as Ryan says, you need to “design with everyone in mind.” Check out our favorite quotes from Ryan below, and be sure to check out Ryan’s Instagram, YouTube, and Dribbble profiles to hear his story in his own words.
“What God did give me was a gift— a gift to inspire people, and a gift to laugh— so from that day forward I chose to do those things. My life’s goal is to help people.”
When Ryan was just eight years old, he spent a day hanging out with the son of a family friend he had never met before. That same night, the boy opened up to his parents, telling them he was being bullied at school and was experiencing suicidal thoughts, but spending time with Ryan changed his whole outlook on life. This story speaks to Ryan’s positive influence on everyone he interacts with, even from the age of eight years old, and serves as inspiration for all of us to use our abilities and talents to have a positive impact on others.
“Without the internet I wouldn’t be who I am or do what I do. I can’t imagine another field I could have gotten into where I could talk to someone over the phone and show my work.”
While sharing his story, Ryan told us about his struggles with job hunting earlier in his career. While prospective clients loved his design portfolio, as soon as he’d meet with them in person he “might as well have shown up without a head,” and was declined opportunities. Ryan said he imagined hiring managers thought he would work more slowly or not be able to do everything other designers could do, but this was not the case. It was freelancing from home that allowed Ryan’s career to grow, and his work that set him apart from the competition.
“When people feel sorry for themselves, I just want them to know that it could be worse. When you’re struggling, you have to find the thing that you’re most grateful for. To be alive is a gift, and we have to appreciate that.”
We all have days where we fail and struggle to get back up. We don’t all have days where we struggle to close a bathroom stall door behind us. Ryan advised us to put our lives and our struggles into perspective, to think about the things that we have and are grateful for, and to learn from our failures instead of letting them drag us down.
“Don’t be your own speed bump, because the only thing that can slow you down or stop you in your life is yourself.”
Perhaps Ryan’s favorite and most famous quote reminds us that we set limitations on ourselves that nobody else does. If we give up, if we stop trying, if we doubt ourselves, how can we grow?
Coincidentally, Ryan’s time with us fell in the same month as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This juxtaposition created a unique opportunity for us to ask ourselves: is our design work as accessible as it could be?
To answer this question, our president and creative director Mike Aleo created and presented a webinar titled: Making the Web More Accessible For All. We also recorded a short video in which Mike discusses accessibility, ADA requirements, and simple steps designers can take to make the web more user-friendly for site visitors with mobility and sight impairments. In addition to broadcasting the webinar, Mike gave his presentation to our team just last week, opening up the floor to our questions and comments.
Only some of us at LGND are designers, but all of us need to be aware of, and take action to, make our work more accessible. This includes becoming educated, as well as sharing our passion and knowledge with anyone willing to listen.
Have ideas on how we can increase accessibility on the web? Our inbox is open: [email protected]