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Sheri Byrne-Haber’s most popular accessibility/disability inclusion blogs of 2021

They broadly fall into four distinct groups — 1) litigation, 2) the accessibility book I authored on May, 2) general accessibility commentary, and 4) disability inclusion.

I started blogging a little over three years ago because I was angry that a co-worker who was the best accessibility tester I knew got turned down for a job due to the lack of experience with one particular accessibility testing tool. That article got 31 reads, of which I think 6 were family members. My blogging statistics for 2021 are somewhat better, but it’s always good to remind myself where I started.

  • 59 articles published
  • 4 hours and 48 minutes of total read time
  • It takes me about 1 hour 45 minutes to write the average article, so that comes to about 105 hours of total authoring time.
  • More than 30,000 followers on Medium and LinkedIn

Ad: If you can afford $5 a month which is less than $1 per article, click here to sign up for a paid Medium subscription under my name. Medium gives me half the subscription money which helps me pay for the accessible and free article repository at sheribyrnehaber.com that is available without limits for people who can’t afford a Medium subscription, students, or people in developing nations, and also for people who use assistive technology, which Medium does not support well.

  • Over 70,000 reads of just this years’ articles and another 55,000+ reads of articles I published in 2018 through 2020.

Here is the summary of my most widely read articles for 2021, grouped by topic.

Man sitting on bench reading newspaper on fire in abandoned warehouse

Litigation / Settlement Agreements

My most popular articles are always those where I break down complicated legal cases into simple language that reflects what the case means to businesses and accessibility professionals. Law school, for the win, however, of course, my summaries should not be construed as legal advice. This year is no exception to that trend. There were three significant litigation and settlement outcomes that I wrote about in 2021.

EyeBob’s

Far and away, the most popular article I wrote this year was about the ADA settlement involving EyeBob’s and AccessiBe. In this article, I break down exactly why the claims made by overlay companies are contradicted by the actions EyeBob’s agreed to take in the settlement agreement. Why would EyeBob’s have agreed to do these things if they weren’t essential in making the e-commerce site accessible? Many of the points I make in this article are echoed by Karl Groves in his more comprehensive and detailed website OverlayFalseClaims.com

Use this link if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

DOJ Settlement Agreements with Rite Aid and Uber

The DOJ returned from a five-year accessibility vacation in 2021 by entering into settlement agreements with Rite Aid and Uber.

  • The Rite Aid agreement had to do with the lack of accessibility in its COVID pages.
  • The Uber agreement had to do with Uber charging people with disabilities (including me) wait fees if we took more than two minutes to get into the car.

Both actions were despicable. Just because something is an emergency doesn’t mean you can rush it out without considering people with disabilities. An article I wrote two years ago highlights this issue quite clearly.

Use this link for the Rite Aid article if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Use this link for the Uber article if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Use this link for the article on people with disabilities and emergencies if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Domino’s

2021 saw the final installment of the five-year Domino’s accessibility lawsuit saga. For those of you keeping score at home, the case history was as follows:

  • District court decision — In favor of plaintiff Robles
  • Court of appeals decision — District court decision overturned, in favor of Domino’s
  • Supreme Court decision — Kicked it back to the district court on a technicality
  • 2nd district court decision — Judge hands Domino’s their corporate head on a silver platter. Motion for summary judgment granted to plaintiff on several important issues, mobile app issues sent to trial.
  • Domino’s decides they really don’t want to go to trial again and gives up after 5+ years.

Use this link if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Screenshot of cover of “Giving a Damn about Accessibility” a candid and practical handbook for designers

The Book — Giving a Damn about Accessibility

In collaboration with the UX Collective Editors, I published a short book on accessibility on Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021 called Giving a Damn About Accessibility. The book started as an offshoot of an article titled Technology doesn’t make accessibility hard. People who don’t care do, which was my second most-read article of 2021. I explained why I wrote Giving a Damn about Accessibility in another top 10 article.

If you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support, use this link for the technology article and this link for the article explaining why you should read my book.

Customer service stoplight chart with red sad face, yellow neutral face, and green happy face

General accessibility commentary

Of course, my blogging “bread and butter” is talking about technical details and decision-making about accessibility. With 50 WCAG 2.1 Level A and AA guidelines, you would think that I would have run out of things to talk about by now, but I haven’t. There are many ways to be compliant with WCAG, but there are also many ways to be *good* at it. The three articles that were the most widely-read of my accessibility commentary include:

  1. Are bad graphical descriptions better than none, and its close cousin Are bad captions better than none?
  2. How to avoid Twitters latest accessibility mistakes (free/accessible version here)
  3. If someone can use it, someone can misuse it (free/accessible version here).
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Disability Inclusion

Some of my articles are more generic to disability inclusion or even perpendicular to disability inclusion. An action or condition might impact everyone, but it might disproportionately impact people with disabilities. Those articles include:

Advice for people to consider before they start on their next disability article or project

If I see one more prize awarded to some college group for inventing sign language gloves, I am seriously going to lose my *hit. The same goes for people praising overlays/tools/widgets/plugins, whether that praise was purchased or free. This behavior creates the following negative feedback loop:

  1. People are praised for doing stuff that no one asked for, wanted, or was consulted on.
  2. There are several implications in this action

a) people with disabilities need to taken care of by people without disabilities.

b) the problem has been “solved,” with dissenting opinions frequently dismissed or deleted.

c) people with disabilities bear the weight of implementing the solution that has been so graciously handed to them without their involvement.

  • Who wears the gloves? The d/Deaf person, not the person who can’t understand them because they didn’t bother getting an interpreter.
  • Who uses the overlay/plugin/tool/widget? The person with a disability, because the website owner didn’t care enough to make the underlying code accessible.

5. People without disabilities bring up these solutions every . single . time . when the barrier topic comes up in conversation. I have heard “sign language interpreters are so expensive, why don’t we just get a pair of those gloves,” or “why can’t we just use one of those cheap plugins,” so many times I’ve lost count.

6. People with disabilities have to repeatedly disabuse people without disabilities of the notion that the problem has been solved.

7. A ridiculous amount of time, money, and effort is spent on useless solutions where it should have been directed to what people with disabilities really need. It is well documented that overly positive feedback leads to lower quality assistive technology.

8. The problem still isn’t solved, and we are back to #1 in the loop.

People writing about or creating solutions for people with disabilities without understanding disability or involving people with disabilities is a significant problem that I wrote about in the article titled what people should know before writing articles or creating products about accessibility.

TL;DR — what people without disabilities think are problems or solutions frequently doesn’t match what people with disabilities think. Bottom line: no one should be profiting in any way from people with disabilities without including them in the solution. Use this link if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Disability-related language choices

I get a lot of questions about disability-related language

  1. When should the phrase “disabled people” be used instead of “persons with disabilities?”
  2. Is it OK to call someone autistic?

I wrote about this issue in two very popular articles:

  1. Disability/accessibility language choices, and;
  2. Is an Identity model replacing the charitable, medical, and social models of disability?

If you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support, use this link for the language article and use this link for the article on the identity model.

Underrepresented minorities (including people with disabilities) and the Great Resignation

People are leaving jobs at record numbers. How do you know if they are running away from a culture that has discriminated against them because of their disability status, unless you ask? Use this link if you don’t have a Medium subscription or use assistive technology that Medium doesn’t support.

Every action a business takes needs to be viewed through the lens of “how would someone from an underrepresented community react to this action?” Disability is definitely part of the definition of underrepresented community.

It is my most fervent wish that people without disabilities are sparked by one of my articles to think more about disability inclusion in their day-to-day business activities to make the world a better, and more sustainable, place for everyone.

I thank my readers from the bottom of my heart (keep those comments and topic requests coming) and look forward to bringing you more of the same in 2022.

Published inAccessibilityBusinessDisabilitiesInclusionSoftware