Chris Ashton

dai11y 01/11/2021

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Accessibility inception: sharing your knowledge (video, 46m)

  • This is a Mischa Andrews talk from #ID24 in November 2017. I’ve had it in my bookmarks for a while, and am so pleased I’ve finally managed to watch it.
  • Mischa talks openly and candidly about how you can effect accessibility change in your organisation, whilst overcoming the inevitable office politics that come with the territory.
  • I liked the idea of creating a “decoy audience”. Let’s say you have a colleague who feels they have nothing to learn about accessibility – they “know it all already” – but they consistently make accessibility mistakes. You can teach them how to do things properly, without bruising their ego, by arranging a talk or workshop about accessibility, and inviting them to present part of it. The theory is that they can continue to feel good about their own knowledge, whilst also opening up to learning from your side of the talk.
  • A common tactic used by organisations is to have a ‘gatekeeper’ for accessibility, e.g. someone doing accessibility testing as part of the acceptance tests at the end of a project. Mischa warns that you have to tread carefully here, as it’s often too late or difficult to do much about accessibility issues if they’re left until the end of the process. You may also find people try to work around you, such as go to your manager or try to argue that their project shouldn’t go through the normal process. It is best to only use this ‘gatekeeper’ tactic if your organisation is already practising good accessibility.
  • Make it as easy as possible to do the right thing, e.g. by adding accessibility information directly as code comments, or embedded in Word templates, rather than expecting people to seek out and find the guidance independently.
  • Practice what you preach. You may be seen as the a11y expert in the organisation, and people will reuse your resources, such as colour choices, etc, on the assumption that they’ve already been accessibility tested.
  • It is useful to memorise a handful of things that can be used as opportunities to motivate people – and to convince people to listen to you. If you know statistics around how many people have particular kinds of disabilities, or how much money the organisation loses through being inaccessible, or what accessibility laws your country has to abide by, or the difference between different versions of WCAG, you’ll look knowledgeable enough for your words to carry more weight. You can also slip these facts into conversations, which can help to inspire the next generation of accessibility advocates in your organisation.

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