Educate not berate
"Educate not berate”
This is from a brilliant, thoughtful post on LinkedIn from my fab friend, the amazing Meryl Evans.
She talks about the experience of a self-employed disabled person who had proudly used a 3rd party accessibility overlay to improve the accessibility of their website.
I did not see the original post but there was a backlash because, of course, 3rd party accessibility overlays make websites less accessible not more accessible.
They fixed the issue by removing the overlay but Meryl’s post highlighted the fact that, although it is easy to jump in and point the finger, it actually doesn’t help anyone.
It is unbelievably frustrating that 96.1% of the top million websites fail some basic accessibility checks, 24 years after the first set of website accessibility guidelines came out.
It is depressing beyond belief, frankly.
I never thought, when I first started speaking publicly about accessibility in 2008, that this would be the case.
But it is.
How can we be most effective?
The only way we can change that is by encouraging, supporting and educating.
Not making people feel bad.
What message does it send out when a self-employed disabled person gets berated on a platform like LinkedIn and gets slated just for trying to make their website more accessible and being proud of that fact?
What message does that send out to the rest of the people on LinkedIn that aren’t disabled?
I understand why it happens and I have been guilty of this myself, it is such a natural reaction when we see anything that promotes a solution that, frankly, is not a solution, but it does not help anyone.
The road to digital accessibility is often a long, winding and tortuous one and we are all at different points along it.
When you are on a difficult road, it is always better if you can meet someone who can help you along the way and share your load for a while.
Caption: Two dogs carrying a log between them. It is too heavy for one of them to carry on their own