What people should know BEFORE writing articles or creating products about accessibility
So many people are writing or developing products around this hot tech topic right now. Many of them are getting it very wrong.
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I read a lot of articles about accessibility. Some of them (and not just the ones I write) are very, very good. Others are cringe-worthy. These are the signs that I use to determine which to read to the end and which to close the browser tab on partway through.
The author/product developer does not have access to lived experience
It’s never enough to “comply” with whatever WCAG standard you have chosen to follow. People who work in accessibility who want to be good at it must understand how people with disabilities process interactions flows and data to make it usable.
Example: If slide text announces in a training deck, but then the software forces the user to read through the text again to get to the “next” button, that’s a problem. It’s technically compliant but inefficient and unusable.
Unless you have the lived experience of being a screen reader user or have worked closely with screen reader users for an extended period, you might miss this issue. That is why it is so important to involve people with lived experience in learning about accessibility. You must interact and get feedback from people with the lived experience of having a disability or multiple disabilities. In this case, more is ALWAYS better. This interaction is no different from any other dimension of diversity, inclusion, or belonging.
Moreover, you can’t write or develop something, then retrofit in lived experience. Hiring a blind person (or multiple blind people) after a product has been created is not a valid approach to accessibility. Lived experience must be involved from the outset.