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My top 10 favorite disability/ accessibility articles of the year

Picking your favorite articles when you’ve written 145 of them in the past 12 months is like picking your favorite kids.

After I was named the UX Collective Medium author of 2020, I was asked on LinkedIn to post a list of my top 10 favorite stories for 2020 for folx who haven’t been previously following me. Of course, I decided it was easier to just write an article 🙂

FYI, these are NOT my most popular articles. That honor goes to Accessibility is not an Add-on Service, something I wrote largely through voice dictation in a car (my husband was driving) while I was super annoyed about getting 7 messages in one morning from completely inept organizations trying to win my business as an accessibility contractor.

These are the articles that I think can have the most impact on people, that could potentially push them over the tipping point from

Accessibility? Yeah, we really should do that

to

Accessibility? Here is our roadmap and testing schedule and oh by the way all hiring managers need to take this class on how to interview candidates with disabilities and our next Disability ERG meeting is ….

The latter is my definition of success, and when I can convince others to take that leap, the success is that much more impactful.

Without further ado, my ten favorite articles of the year

Your first attempt at making anything accessible will be awful

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? Lack of perfection should not stop people from trying to be accessible. People get credit for trying in this field. They also are a whole lot less likely to get sued, because they are a harder target. Once people accept that their initial effort will be terrible, it’s easier to get past the “I hope people don’t hate it” barrier that frequently keeps people from taking the first step in many areas.

ADA 30 Report Card

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? My need to use a wheelchair is congenital, so I’ve spent not quite half of my life (including K through my first college degree) with a mobility disability prior to the ADA being passed, and slightly more than half my life where I gained two more college degrees, three new autoimmune conditions, glaucoma, and most of my corporate experience. All of Gen Z and about 1/3 of millennials know no other life than one with the ADA — the second half of my life. It is important to understand the history of the ADA as a civil rights movement, and also where it is failing to do what it promised three decades ago.

Can’t Find Underrepresented Minorities for Tech Jobs?

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? Claiming that an organization’s inability to find people with disabilities, women, or people of color for tech jobs is a) completely wrong and b) a total “it wasn’t our fault” cop-out. I like that for this article, “the pipeline” applies to all people intersectionally; it isn’t 100 % focused just on disability.

More lawsuits filed against companies using accessibility plugin/overlays

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

Why on the list of my favorite articles? Accessibility widgets/plugins/overlays are a plague. They are a terrible solution that actually doesn’t solve huge swaths of accessibility problems, yet tricks organizations into thinking they DO solve the problem, and thus the organization need seek no further than installing the magical single line of code. If it sounds too good to be true it is.

Inaccessibility is a disease. Why aren’t we doing more to cure it?

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? I like the headline. Short phrases that carry emotion are powerful. But more importantly, this is the first article where I addressed what I personally think the root cause of the lack of accessibility-aware professionals — colleges and universities aren’t teaching it.

7 things that turn good accessibility into great accessibility

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? This was a “challenge” article — someone whom I didn’t know on LinkedIn saw one of my posts shredding some organization’s accessibility and said “It’s easy to pick on people who do a crappy job at accessibility. Why don’t you write an article on how to get people good at accessibility to up their game?” It was fun to write because many of the seven items are obvious to expert practitioners, but maybe not so obvious to new entrants to accessibility.

Constructing an accessibility elevator pitch

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? The first time I tried to explain accessibility several years ago to my mother-in-law, I fumbled miserably. In business, if you can’t connect with people in 45 seconds, you will lose them. Constructing an accessibility elevator pitch that is authentic to who you are, is the first step of building your accessibility brand.

Building an “accessibility brand”

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? Regardless of whether you have a public accessibility presence, all successful accessibility managers have an accessibility brand, whether they know it or not. Having an internal accessibility brand is essential to get all parts of the product experience on the “accessibility train” heading to the same destination.

Why US law effectively mandates all software design be responsive

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? People who don’t have a strong legal background get hung up on “following the law” — that is, doing what the law says directly. They don’t always look at what the law implies with 100 % certainty, even though it may never be stated directly in the regulation. Magnification, which uses the same design breakpoints as responsive, is one of these “implied requirements.”

Accessibility Memes

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Why on the list of my favorite articles? It’s super difficult to make accessibility engaging to people who don’t have a personal connection to the disability universe. Also, I put a bit of insight into my personality and my sense of humor in this one. Every time I go back and look at it, it makes me laugh. It’s a tab I keep open for the tough days.

I thank each and every one of my thousands of readers. I write them for you because I’m honestly addicted to the feedback I get on how my articles have positively impacted your lives. I take requests! If there is some accessibility or disability topic you would like to hear more about, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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