Accessibility Micro-coaching

A technique for honing everyone’s accessibility skills

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

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A series of five blue, wooden, Russian matryioshka dolls in a slightly angled vertical row, each smaller than the one behind it
Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

Authors note: Because of Medium’s refusal to address its accessibility issues for both authors and readers, I’ve moved my last three years of blogs to Substack. Please sign up there for notices of all new articles. Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Ever since the Internet was invented, training and communications trends have centered around getting those materials focused, more compact, shorter, and more effective.

  • Why go to an all-day training when you can get the same training online in 20-minute chunks?
  • Why read an entire book when you can review focused blogs and tweets?

Micro-coaching is exactly what you might think it is. Coaching, but in a much smaller, bite-sized chunk.

Micro-coaching is the practice of engaging in frequent, brief, targeted, in-workflow coaching conversations. The hallmarks of micro-coaching sessions are that:

  • they are usually less than 10 minutes;
  • they are not is not scheduled, scripted, or forced, and;
  • they can be initiated either by the coacher, or the coachee.

Environments that reward coaching and learning are generally more mature with respect to psychological safety. Psychologically safe environments reward individuals for being vulnerable. Admitting that you don’t know it all, whether you are at the bottom of the pecking order or the CEO of a 30,000+ employee organization requires you to express some vulnerability.

Frequent

I engage in accessibility micro-coaching sometimes dozens of times in a single day with multiple people. It is probably split 50/50 between me initiating the discussion, and people contacting me on Slack, LinkedIn, email, or Zoom/Teams calls asking accessibility questions which I respond to by, you guessed it, micro coaching.

Brief

A micro-coaching interaction can be anywhere from 20 seconds to 10 minutes. It isn’t “micro” if you go much over that. If I am micro-coaching dozens of times per day and each was over 10 minutes, I wouldn’t be able to get my regular work completed.

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.