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Melissa Chen, Canada,  None

Hi Everyone! I’m Melissa Chen, and I have a capillary malformation, otherwise known as a port-wine stain birthmark on the right half of my face.

Growing up with a facial difference, I assumed my birthmark was purely superficial until I noticed my face and upper right lip had swollen over the years, and the color changed from light pink to a deep red. I started laser treatments when I was 22 years old, and continued for a year. During my mid-20s, I was diagnosed with glaucoma in my right eye. It was devastating to find out that there could be a day when I lose my eyesight.

Professionally, I started my career as a web developer and designer. After being diagnosed with glaucoma, I was worried about my day-to-day life and career and how’d I be able to cope with the potential loss (or reduction) of my vision. It inspired me to pursue professional roles developing and designing web applications with “Accessibility-in-Mind” making sure that accessibility gets embedded at the core of every digital product.

Today, I work as a Digital Accessibility Specialist for a multi-billion dollar organization, contributing to developing the company’s Digital Accessibility Standards and leading the Enterprise Accessibility Program & Initiatives.

As a VBF Global Ambassador for the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation, I hope to raise awareness and help create barrier-free access to digital information.

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