A Happy Accessibility Article

Accessibility isn’t punishment, it is about helping others so they can do all the things people without disabilities take for granted

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A lot of accessibility articles (mine included) are negative and/or depressing. On any given day, at least half of the articles I see have titles like:

  • How you are going to get sued if you aren’t accessible
  • The huge increase in accessibility lawsuits
  • Did you hear Beyonce and Rhianna both got sued?
  • How serial plaintiffs are destroying the world

Recently there has been a spike in the articles on the Domino’s lawsuit since they just filed paperwork asking the Supreme Court to hear their appeal. Many of these articles are merely not-so-thinly veiled ads for accessibility consultancies, trying to scare people to drum up business. I personally don’t think that’s the best way to draw attention to the needs of people with disabilities, but sometimes it is necessary.

One of my recent articles referred to toxic accessibility cultures, apparently that term resonated because it got the most reads and claps I’ve received in the past six months of blogging almost exclusively on the topics of disability and accessibility.

A lot of my articles are honestly boring to most people. Many are a complete geek-fest, explaining little details on how to do accessibility better or think about it differently. Other articles discuss how to avoid accessibility mistakes that either I have made, or I have seen others make. They have a very narrow audience, and are completely uninteresting to most.

However, working in accessibility is not all negativity, boredom and self-deprivation. Most of us who have been in accessibility for any length of time really enjoy working in this field. Here are some things about accessibility that make most folks in accessibility happy.

  • When it finally “clicks” for someone and they realize that accessibility is really important.
  • When you do a repeat user research session having implemented some accessibility features requested by a participant. I’ve actually had more than one user shed a couple of tears because their concerns were finally listened to and addressed.
  • When you deploy a feature (such as delivery or personalization) that will benefit all of your customers, but REALLY benefit people with disabilities.
  • When you see countries that don’t have the strongest histories in disability rights (such as UAE) make accessibility a priority.
  • When you start to hear “people first” language and see others in your workplace with visible disabilities, or talking about their invisible disabilities.
  • When allies come to your Disability ERG meetings asking what they can do to help spread the word.
  • When you have expanded beyond digital accessibility into diversity, inclusion, and belonging. That includes reasonable accommodations and employee accessibility, rather than customers-facing accessibility which is what most companies focus on.
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Do you love dogs? Accessibility is the best career ever for exposure to plenty of puppy love on a regular basis. Many accessibility professionals have one or more disabilities, so they are also more likely to have service animals.

But probably the happiest part of accessibility is when someone tells you that you’ve made their lives just a little bit easier.

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