March 19, 2021 By PrintAction Staff
Ernie Crawford founded Crawford Technologies in 1996. Ernie is one of only 17 people in the world with an M-EDP (Master Electronic Document Professional) designation, and has over 30 years of senior marketing and management experience in the high-volume electronic printing market.
Now, Crawford Technologies has introduced the CrawfordTech Accessibility Academy, a training ground to help companies dealing with difficulties in understanding mandated requirements related to document accessibility standards. We spoke with Ernie about launching the Academy and the importance of document accessibility.
What is the Accessibility Academy?
EC: It is a professional, live, web-based training centre. There is a variety of courses tailored to each student’s specific needs and delivered when and where they are needed. These are hands-on training courses, not seminars. The course material is developed and delivered by certified instructors and kept up to date with industry standards.
How did the idea for the Accessibility Academy come about?
EC: Crawford Technologies has been offering document accessibility solutions for many years and throughout this time, we noticed there was a gap which needed to be filled. When many of our customers started coming to us in search of solutions for making their information accessible, they only knew they needed to fix the immediate problem—non-accessible data—but they didn’t know too much about the actual world of document accessibility. As we listened to our customers’ requests for not only the solutions we offer, but for education in the world of digital accessibility, we knew we needed to find a way to accommodate them. We wanted to make it easy for them to expand their accessibility knowledge, regardless of their level of expertise. We decided to come up with a way to enhance our already robust suite of solutions by offering classes ranging from introductory basic courses to advanced accessible web design.
What led the company to place this focus on document accessibility?
EC: There is a need for accessible documents worldwide. Making information accessible to everyone is the right thing to do and as rules and regulations started governing digital content, it was obvious that people were not familiar with all the associated aspects of digital accessibility and therefore needed training to be able to deliver accurate, accessible, usable and valid content.
Crawford Technologies was just named one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies. How does that make you feel?
EC: I am very proud to be leading the team we have assembled, and that the team is able to fight all challenges to meet our goals and those of our customers and partners. I think our unique blend of innovation and reliability strikes a chord in the market. Organizations are struggling to keep up with the demands of their customers, so they need innovative solutions. They also have large volumes of documents to get out every day, so they need the reliability and stability that we bring to them.
How did Crawford Technologies manage the changes to business that came with the COVID-19 pandemic?
EC: Fortunately, we had put a pandemic plan in place after the SARS epidemic, so our team members all had laptops and our network had the strength needed to handle everyone working from home. In our accessibility production centre, we spread our team out over multiple shifts to minimize the number of operations staff in the building at any time. Our customers reinforced that they needed us to keep on track with meeting SLAs. We have also met many special requests from our customers who have had different types of struggles. One of our customers has been able to manage three large print shops from the CTO’s kitchen table. Another needed to defer support costs due to temporary revenue shortages. We are showing the market that many of our solutions are ideal for organizations dealing with the changes they have had to make during the pandemic and the risks they are operating under.
Eric’s answers were edited for length and clarity. For more Spotlight Q&A interviews, please visit printaction.com/profiles.
This article originally appeared in the November 2020 issue of PrintAction.
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