May 16, 2024

As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we sat down with Einat, iProov’s Cybersecurity Manager, to discuss her experiences. As a woman in technology who is visually impaired, Einat shares her thoughts on her challenges, the importance of creating an inclusive workplace, and her message for fostering an accessible digital world.

Q: Can you tell us about your role as a Cybersecurity Manager at iProov and how you became interested in this field?

A: As a Cybersecurity Manager at iProov, I look after the company’s core infrastructure, excluding biometric product security. My role involves developing an innovative approach to security and maturing our program to align with our responsibility towards our customers. We have a very high standard of security and constantly strive to improve it, just as we continuously enhance our biometric capabilities.

People often ask me about my career path. I fell into cybersecurity. I started as a consultant and learned from experience rather than formal education. After 11 years of consulting, I wanted to work within companies to improve security from the inside, which led me to my current role at iProov.

“What really attracts me to cybersecurity is the human connection. Security is about people. It’s about protecting people. It’s about trusting and learning how to trust, creating bridges, and enabling a company to provide a service.”

Q: Can you share a bit about your visual impairment and how it affects your daily life and work?

A: I was born with a genetic condition called albinism, which affects the production of melanin in my body. This is often connected with vision problems. In my case, it has led to a condition called photophobia, which means I have a high sensitivity to light. I also have uncontrolled jerking of my eyes, called nystagmus, and the optic nerve in my left eye is not well developed.

Depending on the time of day and how tired I am, I have somewhere between 5-10% vision in my left eye and under 25% in my right eye. My vision can sometimes improve for brief moments, but it quickly becomes blurry again. I don’t see very well close up, and I see even worse far away.

“From my perspective, in my home, I don’t have a disability. Because I have everything set up that will be very comfortable for me to live, work, all of that. The second I leave my home, where things aren’t where I know they are, there are many different moving parts. That’s when I have a disability.”

My visual impairment has definitely affected my career choices. I would have loved to go into incident response, but unfortunately, most forensics tools are not accessible at all. They don’t work well with magnification and are incompatible with screen readers, which I cannot use due to my sensitive hearing.

Q: As someone who is visually impaired, what challenges have you faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?

A: One of the biggest challenges has been dealing with people who judge based on disability. However, there are also many supportive individuals who have helped me along the way.

Technologically, some tools and platforms in cybersecurity are not accessible. As I’ve grown older, it has become more challenging to endure the physical strain on my eyes from looking at screens and logs for extended periods. This has led me to pursue a management path as my career has progressed rather than staying in a purely technical role.

“At iProov, I feel psychologically safe. I have never felt the need to hide my disability. The company has a very healthy and accepting attitude towards accessibility. This stems from the general culture of technological enablement within the organization.”

When I first joined iProov, I was open about my visual impairment from the start. I didn’t feel the need to hide it in the workplace, as that’s just my way of coping with it. Of course, I wouldn’t necessarily disclose it in a job interview, but once I’m in the workspace, I’m happy to talk about it.

Q: How do you think technology can be designed to be more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities, particularly in the field of cybersecurity?

A: Making cybersecurity accessible is possible, but it’s often not a priority. Accessibility should be considered during the design phase, just like security. By designing software and platforms with accessibility in mind from the start, we can create a more inclusive environment without the need for later fixes.

Unfortunately, a lot of the accessibility progress we’ve seen has been the result of extensive protests and advocacy by the disability community or as a byproduct of the pandemic shifting society. It’s not yet a regulatory priority to create cybersecurity software and platforms that have accessibility built-in from the development stage in the same way that security should be.

Q: What steps can companies take to create a more inclusive and accessible workplace for employees with disabilities?

A: Companies should offer the necessary tools and software to suit each individual’s needs, as visual impairments and other disabilities can vary greatly from person to person. Having a clear, transparent, and accepting process for creating the right work environment for employees is crucial.

It’s not always easy for employees to know what accommodations to ask for, so organizations should provide examples and guidance on what reasonable accommodations are available. This will help people with accessibility needs understand what they can request.

At iProov, the overall culture of technological enablement has created an environment where accessibility is valued and supported. While I’m not sure how this compares directly to other places, I know it has a healthy attitude toward making things accessible.

Q: As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, what message would you like to share about the importance of creating an accessible and inclusive digital world?

a blue circle with a keyboard and text - Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo

A: Creating an accessible digital world is not a problem you have to tackle alone. There are services and companies dedicated to addressing this issue. If you don’t have in-house expertise, find the people who do. If accessibility is a priority for your company, seek out the experts and resources available to help you achieve your goals.

“It’s not a problem you have to tackle alone. There are services. There are companies that are trying to deal with this. […] Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I know everything there is to know about accessibility. I would actually only know about my own experience. But I am a big believer that if you don’t have the expertise, find the people who do.”

One area I’m hoping to contribute to at iProov is making our product more accessible. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s something I’m passionate about and want to help drive forward.

Einat’s journey reminds us that creating an inclusive and accessible digital world requires effort, prioritization, and collaboration. Her experiences highlight the importance of fostering psychologically safe and accepting work environments where employees with disabilities feel supported. As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, let us all commit to making accessibility a central focus in the design and development of our technologies.

GAAD FINAL Website 2