Meet Nic Steenhout

Keynote speaker, Trainer, Podcaster, Accessibility expert.

Nic Steenhout, a white man with short hair and glasses.

Nicolas Steenhout in a few words:

  • I've been speaking about and training on accessibility for over 25 years.
  • I've collaborated with various organizations, from local government to large corporations.
  • I have a pragmatic, down-to-earth approach.
  • I've worked on three continents.
  • I will help you identify and navigate complex accessibility challenges.

Working with Nic

I excel at

I'll simplify complex topics and explain them in ways that are easier to digest. I use concrete examples and lived stories to illustrate concepts that are sometimes intangible and harder to grasp.

My motivations

I love working with motivated teams. Curiosity and a desire to learn is key here - because there is a lot to learn about accessibility. It's a great reward for me to see that metaphorical lightbulb turn on in your head after I explained something and it made you go "Ah ha! I get it now.".

The thin line

There's a thin line between not doing enough and working within a system's limitation. I'll help you stay accountable. I'll do it with grace and respect because I understand your limitations.

My journey to today

I was working on accessibility in the build environment in the early 1990's. I was also experimenting with building websites. In the space of 3 weeks, 3 colleagues came to me with web accessibility problems they were facing.

  1. One was blind and couldn't understand the page they were visiting because the site used images of text instead of text in the main menu.
  2. One was deaf and couldn't access the information to setup up their new printer because the instructions came on a CD with a video without captions.
  3. One had ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and was unable to use any web page because of all the colors and size differences, and animations.

It was a "eureka" moment for me. It was the point where everything clicked. Accessibility to digital environments was as important as accessibility in the built environment.

In the years since, I continued to grow my knowledge about digital accessibility. I worked on Open Source software to help improve accessibility. I discussed accessibility with a lot of disabled individuals. I advised non-profits and tertiary education providers. I consulted with local, state, and federal government organizations in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Belgium. I guided corporations towards building an internal culture of accessibility that allows them to build accessible products with less friction than they faced originally. I worked on the Web Content Accessibility Standard Education and Outreach team.

And throughout all that, I trained teams about accessibility. I spoke at conferences, small and large, about web accessibility. I gave keynote presentations about digital accessibility, and inclusion. Which I continue to do to this day!

Meet my colleague, Winston

Winston is my colleague, friend, and companion. Winston is my service dog and you won't often see one without the other.

Winston is fully trained and has three main tasks:

  • Pulling my wheelchair
  • Retrieving objects on command
  • Helping with transfers
Close up head shot of a black dog. His head is laying down on a knee. He's looking up at the camera.

When I’m not working in accessibility…

Bird watching

In my down time, I escapes to nature as often as weather permits. I love bird watching and taking photos of birds.

An adult bald eagle with a salmon grabbed in his talons, taking off above shallow water. The bird's wings are tight in a M shape above him.


When the weather isn't conducive to going bird watching, I enjoy creating patchwork quilts.

A 60 inch square quilt on the lawn. The quilt has a dark purple background and a patchwork heart shape occupies nearly the entirety of the quilt. The fabrics for the heart are a riot of Kaffe Fassett fabrics in reds, oranges, blues, yellows, and greens. The bottom right of the quilt is folded over showing a teal printed backing