One of the most exciting things that’s happened since Content for Everyone released earlier this month is the conversations that have happened because of it. My co-author Michele and I have had many discussions about why content accessibility is important and how it can make your entire audience feel included in whatever it is you’re doing.
These conversations are necessary because you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s time—beyond time actually—to put an end to the knowledge gap around accessibility. That will give everyone the power to make their corner of the internet usable, accessible and inclusive for all.
Inevitably, when I bring content accessibility up with a creative, the first reaction is that they don’t know what that is. This is why I bring the topic up more and more, and I encourage others to do the same. Yes, it’s true. I’d like you to discuss content accessibility with your creative colleagues, and with your friends and family. More on that in a moment.
In Practice: After an Interview
I’ve already written about an example of this type of conversation in the blog post “Colors, Fonts and a Teachable Moment,” which is about a chat I had with author Onley James about the LinkTree she used. If you missed that post, please check that out.
In Practice: Going to the Airport
When I went to the airport after the recent CSUN conference (if you missed it, check out my notes from the CSUN conference post), I had an excellent chat with Jan, my Lyft driver. We started off from my comment that it was my first time riding in a Tesla (which was cool… the car has a spiffy dashboard and was very comfortable). From there we talked about the crazy California weather, her travels around the world over the past couple of years, and the businesses she runs. Among her businesses is a clothing company she runs with her husband where they sell handmade goods that are mostly sourced from African countries.
At one point, I asked if she had made her website accessible so that anyone coming to the site could find out about the clothes. She said no, but that she wants to because she has a close family member who has vision problems. I outlined in broad strokes what accessible content included, but since we were minutes away from arriving at my destination, we didn’t get to chat for long. Since I had a couple of paperback copies of Content for Everyone with me, I gave her one. My hope is she finds it useful, improves her site, emails, and social media posts, and also passes the concepts on to others.
In Practice: The Networking Call
I’m a member of a couple of LGBTQ+ groups on LinkedIn and sometimes that leads to a networking call/virtual coffee to get to know another group member better and see if there’s any possibility for working together, making references, and so on. During a recent one, I spoke with the owner of a public relations and communications firm. Inevitably I talked about the work I did with UsableNet, and the book I’d written on content accessibility. He wondered out loud if the vendors the firm works with for digital projects make the content accessible.
I hit my usual big picture talking points—how many in the population are affected, the disability groups, and how not having accessible digital properties can exclude many of the potential audience. I also took a quick look at the firm’s website and pointed out four issues on the homepage—three with color contrast, and another with a video that auto-played with no way for the user to stop it.
Now this person has some understanding to take back to the teams they work with, both inside and outside the firm. I’m hopeful it means they become a content/web accessibility advocate and start new conversations on the topic.
In Practice: Being a Podcast Guest
Since I produce a podcast, it’s not a gigantic leap to being on other people’s shows as a guest. The initial podcasts I’ve been on since Content for Everyone released has been on shows for authors. These are shows run by friends and colleagues I’ve made since I’ve been publishing.
While podcasters typically know about the need for transcripts and captions, they don’t know the full extent of what accessible content means. In each interview Michele and I have done, you can hear multiple times in each conversation the a-ha moments that come as the hosts discover ways they can improve their content.
Of course, what’s great about a podcast conversation is that many more people get to hear it besides the host. If each one of the people listening begins to implement what we talk about, and starts telling others, imagine how many people can start creating inclusive content.
In Practice: Your Conversations
I hope you’re using what you learn about content accessibility, whether it’s for your website, newsletter emails, social media posts, or other web content. In addition, I hope you discuss these practices with others and how using them helps make the web inclusive for everyone.
The conversations are as important as you making your own content accessible. Sharing your knowledge and pointing someone else in the right direction for information means that you’ll be at least partially responsible for their audience having a better experience.
I’d love to know if you’re having these talks and how they go. You can leave a comment on this post, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together, and with enough talk and education, we can launch a revolution among creatives and other that we know, to have accessible content for everyone.