Jul. 26th, 2012

facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)
Selling Accessibility by Karl Groves is a series of posts about what it says on the tin in the context of web accessibility/design.

Mr. Groves is a name in that field and he researched this series with some interviews with some of the other big names in web design and what is often styled as a11y work.

If you're used to seeing this issue only from an activist point of view, you might not like what he has to say. I think it's an important read though.

I'm reccing it for people involved in any kind of activist work with employers or large institutions who are trying to change the system from within.

In fact, I suggest starting with his previous post, Let’s put down the pitchforks and get some perspective which might come off to a lot of people like a tone argument. I don't think it is. I think it's pragmatic.
One that stuck with me was that of John Foliot who said that when approaching others who are outside of accessibility, take the approach of being a fireman, instead of that of a policeman. By saying that, what he means is that firemen actually spend a very small amount of their time fighting fires. Most of what they do is in preventing fires. The police, on the other hand, are spending their days investigating crimes and keeping a watchful eye out for crimes occurring. The mere presence of a police officer can often stress people out. Think about the last time you were driving down the road and saw a cop on the side of the road. The immediate – almost universal – reaction is to jam on the brakes (or at least check the speedometer), irrespective of how fast you’re actually traveling. This is not who we want to be. The last thing we want to be is seen as a policeman on the side of the road watching for people to slip up. This is not the way to gain the cooperation of others. This is not the way to gain further adoption of accessibility, as a concept, throughout the rest of your organization. In fact, the more you look like a roadblock, the more people will want to avoid you.

The subsequent parts will really put you off if you think capitalism is icky and gross and any kind of biz-speak makes you roll your eyes. I'm still reccing it though.

He starts off talking about how to get people to do what you want, and that's of value for anyone trying to get the big machine they're a cog in to grind down a few less people as it goes about its business. A lot of this sounds like the research material for Leverage or White Collar, and even if you've never done a lick of web design work, the context he's adding will make it meaningful.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

And I was reading this at an interesting time today. Because I was asking some police-type questions about this issue somewhere nearby. And I'm not sorry I did raise the red flag, and I also spent more effort on trying to suggest putting into place a good fire code so the cops won't be needed next time than I might have without these posts.

And I agree with what he's saying to a great degree, particularly as it applies to actual profit motivated businesses. But usability (a word that includes everyone, not just the people you think need accessibility aids) is so much easier, cheaper and faster to build in at the thinking stage. You just have to have access to the people who make the design decisions to get them to see that everyone matters.

bonus musical selection is on Vevo so mind the ads )


facetofcathy: four equal blocks of purple and orange shades with a rusty orange block centred on top (Default)

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