Since I’m wrapping up authoring my first book on accessibility, I’ve been reading a lot. Here are my thoughts on the most impactful books I’ve read recently
What I included and what I didn’t
- I only included books that I’ve purchased myself and read cover-to-cover.
- I did not include anything on the technical aspects of accessibility that is more than two years old. Older books:
- will not cover the Section 508 Harmonization with WCAG
- will not include WCAG 2.1 or much of anything authoritative related to mobile accessibility
3. It’s not enough to just understand the technical aspects of accessibility Business, design, diversity, and usability books also play essential roles in establishing and running robust accessibility programs. They also have a slightly longer shelf-life.
The list …
- Regine Gilbert, Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Designing with Accessibility in Mind. This is a great book to start with if you are beginning your accessibility journey.Regine, who is a UX professor at NYU, goes through the history behind the need for inclusion in design practices and covers everything from fundamental website accessibility concepts through advanced digital concepts such as accessibility in VR/AR.
- Heydon Pickering, Inclusive Design Patterns,and Inclusive Components. Inclusive Design Patterns looks at design issues associated with implementing numerous elements such as skip links, labels, buttons, etc. required for accessibility. Inclusive Components picks up where Inclusive Design Patterns left off, focusing on precise instructions about how to take the legos you learned how to use in the first book and build a palace with them.
- Jeff Kline, Strategic IT Accessibility: Enabling the Organization: 2nd EditionIf you’ve bought this book in the past, you should get the updated version. This book is written by an accessibility geek, for accessibility geeks. It reads like a checklist for how to set up an IT organization to churn out accessible products. Be forewarned — this book is very dense, and you should have some accessibility knowledge before you start on this one. Occasionally, you could write an entire book on the topic of just one of Jeff’s bullet points.
- The next step in your accessibility reading journey should be usability, and these three usability books should be on everyone’s shelves. When you make products more usable, you are inherently making them more accessible.
a) Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug (number one in UX on Amazon)
b) User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play by Cliff Kuang and Robert Fabricant, and;
c) Delta CX by Debbie Levitt, which looks at CX and UX together rather than independently.
5. Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionalsby Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic is a #1 best seller in Information Management on Amazon for a reason. While this book isn’t entirely about accessibility (there is one well-done chapter on this topic), almost all the information contained in it helps make data more usable, which in turn makes it more accessible.
6. If you need to expand your understanding of Autism and neurodiverse behavior such as ADHD and dyslexia, you might want to consider diving into Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversityby Steve Silberman. In this book, Steve comprehensively reviews the history of neurodiversity. He argues that being neurodiverse doesn’t represent something going wrong in the human genome.
7. Many accessibility managers find themselves at a loss to creating a justifiable business case for accessibility. An excellent book to learn how to do that is Toby Mildon’s Inclusive Growth: Future-proof your business by creating a diverse workplace. D&I books typically come in two flavors — they either don’t discuss disability at all, or they don’t discuss the “why” behind including disability in D&I initiatives. This book fills the “why” gap — it offers easily digestible best practices and wisdom to adding disability into inclusion initiatives, which in turn will support accessible software development.
8. After you have learned how to make your business case, read Jennifer Brown’s How to Be an Inclusive Leader: Your Role in Creating Cultures of Belonging Where Everyone Can Thrive. Implement Brown’s “Inclusive Leader Continuum” in your workplace to ensure that disability takes its rightful spot next to gender, LGBTQ+, veteran’s status, ethnicity, religion, age, caregiving status, and all the other dimensions of diversity. A parallel book to read with this one would be Frances West’s Authentic Inclusion, which stresses it’s not enough to talk about inclusion. You must integrate inclusion into your core business processes.
9. Just in case you occasionally forget why you work in accessibility, read either (or both) of the outstanding memoirs by:
a) Judy Heumann (Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist), and;
b) Haben Girma (Haben: The Deafblind Woman who Conquered Harvard Law) will remind you within about two paragraphs.
While you are at it, make sure you watch CripCamp on Netflix.
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