Constructing an accessibility elevator pitch

Everyone in accessibility needs an accessibility elevator pitch

Bank of elevator buttons G, M, 2–6 with braille, 6th floor is lit up
Bank of elevator buttons G, M, 2–6 with braille, 6th floor is lit up
Photo by Arisa Chattasa on Unsplash
  1. Immediate, pre-programmed come-backs to people who express disinterest in accessibility.

What is an accessibility elevator pitch?

An accessibility elevator pitch is a quick summary of who you are and what you want the person you are speaking with to engage in with respect to accessibility. Like a regular elevator pitch, it should be shorter than the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator which makes it roughly 30 -45 seconds or 75–90 words.

Why are elevator pitches important?

Elevator pitches are amazing ways to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. You can use them at the airport, at a conference, at an interview and with strangers or friends. An accessibility elevator pitch can quickly help new contacts understand why they should connect with you or care about accessibility. I’ve even used them at Starbucks.

How to construct a compelling accessibility elevator pitch

Your accessibility elevator pitch answers the following questions:

  • What do you do with respect to accessibility?
  • What do you want?

Start by introducing yourself

As you approach a stranger to pitch to for any reason, you need to begin at the beginning. Provide your full name, do whatever the socially accepted greeting is. In the days of Coronavirus, I am currently using the Spock Vulcan greeting “live long and prosper” for contact-less but friendly greetings. If your title doesn’t immediately connect you to accessibility, state what you do and what your background is.

Give a brief summary of your connection to accessibility

For example: “Hi, my name is Sheri. Live long and prosper ! I’m the head of accessibility for VMware. I have a special focus on including disability and accessibility in VMware’s diversity and inclusion efforts.”

Explain what accessibility is

Many people don’t know what accessibility is. The rest of your pitch will be unintelligible to the person you are talking to if you don’t explain accessibility up front. You can consider skipping this part if you know the person you are speaking with is accessibility-fluent (or at least accessibility knowledgeable).

“The ask”

If there is no ask, you can end with the previous pitch component, or end with a generic ask such as “Would you like to know more?” But if you have a specific ask (interview, budget, commitment to fix bugs) you should end your elevator pitch with a specific call to action identifying you want to happen next. Because accessibility is a somewhat complicated topic, the best example is to ask for a commitment to a meeting where you can go into what you need in more detail.

Closing

  • If they didn’t tell you to get lost, a good closing is “Thank you for your time, I’ll send you a follow-up email. Have a great day!”
  • If they did tell you to get lost, a good closing is “I understand you are busy, but accessibility is really important because X. Would there be a good time for me to reach out to discuss this with you further?
  • A lawsuit by people with disabilities could cost us a great deal of money.
  • Blocking people with disabilities from getting jobs because they can’t use our software doesn’t further our brand as an inclusive company.

Delivering your accessibility elevator pitch

You can’t deliver a flawless elevator pitch without practice.

  1. Practice the accessibility elevator pitch aloud. Repetition can create variation that may result in better wording or tightening your message. If looking into a mirror or having someone video you doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you should do that to.
  2. Get feedback from someone you trust.
  3. Watch your body language when practicing. The pitch isn’t isolated to what you say. Your pitch also includes how you say it and facial cues and body language that does with it. You can’t convince someone of the important of accessibility if you sound bored, use a completely monotone voice, or look at your feet the entire time you are delivering your pitch. If you are neurodiverse, this will take a lot of practice and more feedback from others.
  4. Try not to rush when you are giving your accessibility elevator pitch for real. In the end it should sound like conversation and not something rehearsed to death.
  5. Deliver the pitch with confidence. The worst thing that can happen is someone says no.

Written by

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

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