The problem is exclusion, and the solution is inclusion 1.”

All things being equal, those words and their implications are simple enough. I like simple. However, reality shows quite clearly that “all things” are everything but equal. While goals towards being inclusive are straight forward, often practicality is a bit more complicated.

Here is a picture of me, reclining back in my wheelchair laughing hard, while wearing a clean shave, a black tee, and orange corduroy pants.
Look at me, maniacally laughing at something that hardly justifies such a reaction – guaranteed. (Photo credit: Shitty Sharer and his smelly phone.)

My name is Johnny, I’m just one of many. But I’m also a disabled web worker, technologica11y enhanced, and powered by plants!”

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’d really like to know

Please, don’t take my words as any sort of suggestion that my efforts are perfect, or in any way even remotely resemble good enough. I know they’re not. Better than before is a fine goal to strive for, and that’s what I’m trying to do, but I’ll need some help.

So, should you ever encounter anything you don’t expect using my website, do not hesitate to get in touch and inform me of your experience. 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 all 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 describing disability, then think about this: every single individual on this planet is disabled. No one person does, can do, or wishes to do the same thing, the exact same way as another. Any one person expecting any one way is, or should be the only way to do anything is simply mistaken.

Footnotes

  1. Jean-Bertrand Aristide in mid March 2011 speaking to his nation upon his latest return from exile to his completely beleaguered homeland of Haiti — referencing Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular political party in Haiti, being excluded from an election the country was soon to hold. Return to the inclusion is the answer quote link
  2. Ego Fum Papa (I Am The Pope), Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes, Propagandhi. Return to the kids with blue socks quote link

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