I just read a blog post about the benefits of an accessible site. Despite working in accessibility for the past 15 years, sometimes I still get surprised that we even need to have the conversation about accessibility being necessary and the right thing to do–particularly in government where we’re required to comply with Section 508.
During these years, I’ve been fortunate to work with many folks who understand why accessibility is important, but there have been a few people along the way whom I’ve wanted to strangle teach and motivate.
Motivation and taking a walk in someone else’s shoes are both effective keys to helping people understand accessibility. WebAIM, the accessibility experts and consultancy at Utah State University, have a fabulous diagram that illustrates those keys.
They specifically mention inspiring people to create accessible works. While I know that the term “inspire” causes eyerolls and heartburn in some people (see the late Stella Young’s Ted Talk about “disability inspiration pron”), it’s still true that seeing how people with disabilities are able to do the mundane, everyday things that “abled” people do creates a powerful impact and impression.
You can try a few exercises, in that vein:
- Try to use your app, site, software like people with various disabilities do. Unplug your mouse and try to navigate, using only your keyboard, through a website.
- Or use your imagination: Imagine going to apply for your Social Security benefits, a passport, or filing your taxes online. But suppose you’re told that you can’t do these things. You might feel angry and disappointed. How are you supposed to do these ordinary tasks that every American citizen is entitled to do? Yet, people with disabilities are denied the ability to do similar things when they encounter inaccessible works.
Some of the reasons people give for not complying with accessibility laws are cost, time, and difficulty. To paraphrase a colleague: Why does cost, time, or difficulty justify denying access to people? In the long run, limiting access isn’t cost-effective since providing an accommodation can be costly.
Perhaps you can imagine yourself in these situations or share these thoughts with a colleague. When it comes down to it, people with disabilities want to live ordinary lives…just like everyone else.
How can you support accessibility in your work? Share your thoughts!
Angela Hooker is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.