Everything that makes accessibility difficult ties back to one root cause: People not giving a damn about others who are different.

Zara model wearing green jacket famously worn by Melania Trump. White block graffiti says “I really don’t care do u?”
Zara model wearing green jacket famously worn by Melania Trump. White block graffiti says “I really don’t care do u?”
From: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/lady-wears-jacket-visit-immigrant-children-reads-care/story?id=56069005

These are the different categories of people you will run into in corporate settings that will make life difficult for any accessibility professional.

The people who are allergic to change

It was the inimitable Grace Murray Hopper, US Navy Rear Admiral who contributed to COBOL and invented one of the first compilers, for whom the eponymous Grace Hopper Conference was named who said:

People who are allergic to change actively fight doing things differently. However, fundamentally, the only way to solve for inaccessible software is to … do things differently. This is why people who are allergic to change are so poisonous to the disability/accessibility movement. Another business phrase frequently used to identify these types of people is those that suffer from “NIH Syndrome,” — which means they don’t want to do anything that was Not Invented Here. …


AB 979 has a much too narrow definition of “underrepresented communities,” leaving out many identities who deserve to be included.

Boardroom inside sky scraper with lots of windows and white furniture, table and 15 chairs
Boardroom inside sky scraper with lots of windows and white furniture, table and 15 chairs

AB 979 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last year. This law requires that by the end of 2021, California-based publicly held corporations diversify their boards of directors.

AB 979 defines “Director from an underrepresented community” as an individual who self-identifies as Black, African American, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaska Native, or who self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

The passage of AB 979 last fall wasn’t the first time California stepped into the area of regulating board diversity. SB 826 similarly forced certain California corporations to diversify the gender of their boards. Slowly but surely, boards have been adding women to beat the deadline of the end of 2021 and avoid being fined. Because this is America, of course, people are trying to get this law thrown out through the legal system. There are still two active court cases trying to eliminate the requirements from SB 826. …


February 26, 2021, is the deadline to submit comments.

Periodic table for the element “ag” (which is silver) including references to A11y and W3C
Periodic table for the element “ag” (which is silver) including references to A11y and W3C

The first peek at the long-awaited World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) major update to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is here. In W3C speak, we call a First Published Working Draft (or FPWD). Silver (aka WCAG 3.0) has been in the works for more than four years. The W3C Silver Task Force has a broad cross-section of accessibility experts from government, education, for-profit, non-profit, and accessibility consulting organizations.

This article is intended to be a 50,000-foot overview of Silver. For a more in-depth review from someone who has been involved since Silver’s beginning, I would suggest reading Jeanne Spellman’s outstanding detailed introduction or reading the W3C documents that were released today. …


Teachable moments suck. Here’s how I make them suck less.

Two women (one clearly a person of color) conversing in a coffee shop
Two women (one clearly a person of color) conversing in a coffee shop

Oxford defines a teachable moment as:

an event or experience which presents a good opportunity for learning something about a particular aspect of life.

Sounds innocuous, right? All win-win and upside, sweetness and light, everyone is happy?

Not so much when the “teachable moment” pertains to diversity or identity, be it gender, age, disability, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ status, or any other aspect. Let me tell you that under those circumstances, “teachable moments” are unequivocally awful experiences, even under the best of circumstances.

  1. The “teacher” has just been discriminated against or, at a minimum, has been on the receiving end of a microaggression attacking or devaluing a core component of their identity. …


“Help A Reporter Out” helps you find experts and build online name recognition.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Ever wondered where reporters get their sources from and how to be one? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard on radio or multimedia someone talking about *MY* area of expertise who really doesn’t have a clue. I used to uselessly shout at my computer or car radio. But, for the last two years, I have belonged to HARO — “Help A Reporter Out.”

HARO started out as a Facebook group in 2008 created by Peter Shankman, someone who has been very public about how having ADHD has impacted his life. …


Permanent improvements in disability equity are impossible without understanding and dealing with these categorical truths.

Worn black piece of paper with white letters spelling TRUTH in a pothole on worn asphalt
Worn black piece of paper with white letters spelling TRUTH in a pothole on worn asphalt
Photo by Michael Carruth on Unsplash

People with disabilities do not have access to equal business opportunities. If you don’t believe that, I ask you to look at Exhibits 1 and 2 — the unemployment rates for people with disabilities both pre and post-pandemic which took a bad situation and made it vastly worse.

To dismantle these barriers, every one of these truths below must be analyzed and addressed across the entire organization, not just the ones your organization is most likely to get sued over.

Fact #1: Your organization is under employing people with disabilities

  • The total number of people with disabilities in the US as a percentage of the population is around 18 %. …


For starters, re-imagine your all-day workshop in an “all you can eat buffet” format, not a single 12-course dinner.

Word cloud with Workshop in the center surrounded by training, goal, idea, skills, team, practice, results, trends
Word cloud with Workshop in the center surrounded by training, goal, idea, skills, team, practice, results, trends

1. Short 5–10 minute segments in repetitive “learn-do” cycles generally work better than live workshops

It is challenging for people to take a full day or half-day off to focus on a single event. During the pandemic, our days have filled up with zoom meetings, and people have a higher tendency to multi-task. Even if participants can reorganize their schedule, they might go into the workshop resentful of the disruption workshop participation has caused. Tying people to having multiple uninterruptible hours for a workshop means limiting the number of people who can effectively participate.

For people with disabilities, short “learn-do” cycles work WAY better than workshops.

  • People with pain or fatigue-related disabilities need more breaks.
  • People with cognitive disabilities can only retain so much new information at a single time. …


Here is what you can expect. Part 2 of a two-part article

Old-style courtroom with lots of wood and maroon velvet drapes
Old-style courtroom with lots of wood and maroon velvet drapes
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

Read Part 1 of this article here about recouping costs for accessibility lawsuits when others are at fault.

This article is not legal advice. This is a general opinion article and should not be relied upon for any legal situation. Always consult an attorney who specializes in accessibility for your legal issues.

There have been many, many articles about accessibility and lawsuits. There have been over 7500 of them filed in the last three years, according to a Usablenet.com report. “Avoid getting sued,” vendors scream in sponsored ads when you search on Google for anything related to W3C or accessibility.

Everyone knows getting sued is terrible. But do all the accessibility stakeholders in your organization understand at a detailed level the impact on their lives an accessibility lawsuit will have? If it were just money, it would be one thing (and the financial side of this litigation is addressed in Part 1 of this article). Unless you’ve been in the bowels of a corporate legal suit, you may not be aware of the process and how litigation can turn in to a soul, morale, and time-sucking hole that it sometimes feels like you will never escape. …


A list of things that might sound OK on the surface but don’t stand up to any level of introspection of others’ lived experiences

Weights, a tape measure, fruit, and a scale — all things commonly associated with New Year’s resolutions
Weights, a tape measure, fruit, and a scale — all things commonly associated with New Year’s resolutions
Exercise

Almost 1/3 of Americans make New Year's resolutions. A staggering number of the resolutions made by people are related to weight loss (37 %), exercising (50 %), and eating healthier (43%).

And that’s fine when the New Year’s resolution can be made with the extent of its privacy completely controlled by the person making the resolution.

But bringing New Year’s resolutions into the workplace as a group event as a “morale builder” is a terrible idea, and may backfire. Making it a contest is even worse. Food is a surprisingly unsafe work subject because:

  1. There are numerous cultural traditions around food — what might be great for one group might be banned by another. …

I am significantly immune-compromised and was just forced to go through this process to ensure my safety.

Desk with judges gavel and paperwork, judge filling out paperwork with pen
Desk with judges gavel and paperwork, judge filling out paperwork with pen

I will call my assailant, “Mr. Covid.” His actions had already generated two separate police calls (from others) for assault in the previous three months. My situation was a little more subtle.

People frequently refer to “assault and battery” as if it were a single thing. But they are two different things, though close cousins. While assaults attempt to cause bodily harm, a battery is the act following through on the threatened assault. Assault is defined in California as:

“an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

In most states, there are various categories of assault, all of which carry different penalties, including jail time and fines. …

About

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

Blogger, disability advocate, nerd. Bringing the fire on ableism. A11y Architect @ VMware. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter. CS, Law, and Business background

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store