All things being equal, those words and their implications are simple enough. I like simple. However, reality dictates “all things” are anything but equal. While inclusivity goals are relatively straight forward, often practicality is a bit more complicated.
“I’m a Johnny Taylor. I’m a disabled web worker. And it’s my job to keep web accessibility non-elite!”
But first, let’s unpack a bit of the language I chose to use to describe myself in the previous paragraph. What the hell is a web worker? Well essentially it’s a person who works on the web. But seriously, I don’t really consider myself a web designer – as far as the typical definition of the calling goes. Yet at the same time, I’m not a typically abled web developer either. However, the self-designation of web worker serves as a quote/ unquote “stop-gap” between web designer and web developer quite neatly (I think). In the sense I go between these two roles frequently enough, performing loads of various tasks, to (happily) avoid being considered either.
I take pride in my self-proclaimed versatility. For no other reason than I rather enjoy thinking throwing a label on me isn’t always so straight forward, both on and off the internet. But if I must be applied with one, one concerning my digital exploits specifically, I’m entirely comfortable with “web worker.”
I’m figuratively running with it.
oh, so much more
Accessibility on the web doesn’t just magically happen. It must be expected, planned for, built into and demanded from any and all projects you develop, build, use and love on the internet. Not to put too fine a point on it, access must be abled.
Digital inclusivity is not that hard a concept to grasp. Yet it’s pretty difficult to master with any sort of reliability, of course. However, I feel that speaks to the issues at hand quite clearly in fact. Test, test, test. Ask, ask, ask. Never assume anything you do on the internet is finished.
Let’s face facts, there is a lack of understanding and a relatively poor sensitivity towards what web accessibility really is and everything it actually involves. Ensuring access is so much more than slapping on a fix after the fact, to hopefully address what is sure to be an incomplete perception concerning any one user’s ability. And while alternative image text for images and well formed HTML (and oh, so much more) are most definitely a part, it’s also a very involved and an extremely intricate practice of accommodating for everything you think you understand about many users needs but, much more importantly, expecting and learning about that for which you don’t.
Impossible you say? I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. But it’s not about getting it right on your first, fourth, or even your hundredth attempt. It’s not even about success at all. It’s about wanting to understand, continuously improving on that understanding, all while accepting imperfection, and learning from your mistakes. After all the web is still a relatively young medium and making mistakes is precisely how we learn.
I need to know
Please don’t take my words as any sort of declaration towards my efforts being perfect. Or any way that even remotely resembles good enough. I know they’re not. In fact, nothing is, ever has been, or ever will be. Perfection is a myth. And better than before is a fine goal to strive for.
All that said, should you ever encounter any difficulties using or accessing my website, do not hesitate to get in touch and inform me of the issues you’re experiencing. I’ve never been more serious. “Don’t let it worry you, we’re down here together. […] heathens, heretics, kids with blue socks.” 2 We have so much to learn from each other. Let’s talk.
After all, if what one is unable to do continues to be used as a means of defining disability, problems with such a small minded and unfair approach aside, then every single individual on this planet is disabled. No one person does, can, or wants to do the exact same thing, the exact same way, as another. And any one person expecting any one way is, or should be, the only way to do anything is simply mistaken.