TEDxTalk at TEDx Lukely Brook 02/03/2022
I first learnt about website accessibility in 2006, when we started Access by Design.
I knew we had something that was very different. The only accessible websites were, frankly, not great to look at and we wanted to prove that you could do both: have a website that was fully accessible and with a strong design.
I realised that my biggest battle was to get people to understand what the benefits of having an accessible website were.
To me, it was obvious but I think I completely underestimated just how difficult it was going to be, to persuade people. Accessibility was just something that people did not understand. If they got it, at no extra cost, then that sounded nice but very few people understood what it was actually about.
I spent a lot of my time presenting at networking meetings within a 50 miles radius of where we lived. People would be interested and, as I got better at communication, they would become more very enthusiastic but nothing really changed, nobody else to be talking about it.I am sure other popel were of course but I never seemed to be aware of them.
Covid changed all of that of course and I began presenting online and posting on LinkedIn with my friends, in a group that eventually became called Effective Entrepreneurs.
My presence on LinkedIn grew, through regular posting, running monthly website accessibility workshops and a lot of online networking.
In September 2021 I was contacted by Dale Howarth. He had seen my posts, he loved the message I was promoting and he felt it resonated very well with a TEDx Event he was putting on in the Isle of Wight 6 months later.
It was, of course, quite simply, an incredible opportunity. Dale, very patiently, gave me regular feedback on my script as I developed it. He wanted to ensure that I was able to have the greatest possible impact and gave me some brilliant ideas.
The difficulty was my head injury, which goes back to the car accident on June 11th 1989. I rehearsed the script every day, sometimes several times a day, for months and was comfortable doing this, as I always had the words in front of me on my monitor.
I knew it was going to be an issue if I did not have my script to hand and a stand was duly arranged for me. We tried keeping it out of the camera shot but it did not work because I was constantly turning my head towards it so, in the end, we made it part of the talk and this is what I always do now.
It was released on the TEDx YouTube channel a few months later and it was shown as an Editor's Choice. I calculated that I had spoken to around 2000 people in total, over the past 15 years. In those first 24 hours on the TEDx Channel it got over 20,000 views. I felt very, very blessed that so many more people had heard my message. It was extremely humbling.
However, the story does not end there.
Access by Design
Changing the World, One Website at a Time