Joe Clark

Make Accessibility Great Again

Accessibility for people with disabilities is the only non-partisan issue. Like everything they touch, it’s been systematically ruined by Silicon Valley progressives. You can put a stop to that, not least by taking the Neutrality Pledge for Accessibility Workers.

Digital accessibility means the practice of making anything resembling a computer, and any kind of software, usable to persons with disabilities. There’s certainly enough attention being paid now to accessibility of apps, smartphones, tablets, debit terminals, bank machines, TV set-top boxes, and the like that “classic” Web accessibility – making Web sites accessible – has become only one of many flavours of digital accessibility. Since I’m not talking here about architectural access (level entrances, automatic doors), and won’t be talking much about transportation, whenever I talk about accessibility I mean digital accessibility.

The discipline was bootstrapped out of nothing by White and Jewish researchers in the 1980s, and it has a significant Japanese research component. The fact that basically any electronic device can talk to you at all in an intelligible voice owes itself to an Indian national. By any practical definition, then, accessibility is “diverse.”

But that definition is irrelevant for the same reason accessibility is relevant. We make digital devices and software accessible to disabled people so they can enjoy their lives on a level playing field. Accessibility, in the cliché, “opens doors” to disabled people. Indeed it does. What you do once the door is open isn’t our business. And your racial or ethnic origin, or whether you’re male or female, or any other issue, are all off-topic.

The computer does not know you’re a girl (or that you’re White, Jewish, Japanese, or Indian). In some sense it really does know if you’re blind (or you have an essential tremor or you can’t move your arms) in that you cannot use that computer without accessibility help. In all cases, the goal is equalization. The goal is equality of opportunity.

We make digital devices accessible because disability interferes with equal access. When we work on accessibility, we nullify the disadvantages of disability. Perhaps only gradually, and only bit by bit, and not for every discrete disability all at once, but that’s what we’re doing.

Accessibility is a rewarding line of work because you know for a fact you are improving others’ lives. Quite often, you will custom-craft a remedy to suit an individual person’s needs. In that case you really know you’re improving a life.

Disability is about access, not success. Nobody promised you a rose garden.

Accessibility is the only nonpartisan issue

The easiest proof of my claim here is found by looking at the voting history of accessibility legislation. Remarkably, laws guaranteeing accessibility are generally passed unanimously by multi-party legislatures. Some examples:

Political parties of many stripes have introduced, passed, and/or renewed disability legislation. Disability is the only nonpartisan issue because because everyone understands that disability can affect anyone.

Take the Neutrality Pledge for Accessibility Workers

If you agree to prioritize accessibility over any concerns that might muddy the waters, you can take the Neutrality Pledge for Accessibility Workers:

Politics, beliefs, biases, or agendas, whether mine or anyone else’s, have nothing to do with my efforts to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. I will not allow any of those to interfere with my accessibility work.

Now let’s talk about everyone who won’t take that pledge. In all likelihood, that means you.

No more Mr. Nice Guy

So far I’ve dealt with this topic calmly. But you creeps have made it personal.

I should explain whom I’m addressing. Just as an author may have an ideal reader, I have something similar here. “You” are some kind of undifferentiable progressive (this means far-leftist) working in the technology industry. You might describe yourself as a liberal (in the U.S., a Democrat). You aren’t.

Further, you are almost certainly White, and almost certainly erupt with performative anger at the single capital letter in that word. As a progressive, you are in the grips of a substitute religion, which functions – further – as a lie you tell yourself to justify your actions.

Further still, you as a class are the most vicious, disloyal, vituperative, grudge-cherishing miscreants I have ever had the misfortune to know. Quite apart from improving disabled people’s lives, you make everyone’s lives miserable, starting with your own and certainly including mine.

Accessibility is about accessibility

Q.E.D. It isn’t about diversity, nor is it a subset or variant of diversity.

The last to learn this lesson will be Jeffrey Zeldman’s A List Apart, for whom I used to write. (My article “To Hell with WCAG 2” single-handedly forced the Web Accessibility Initiative to fix the then-fatal errors in its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.) Zeldman has run not one but two articles – written by females, obviously – lecturing us about how intersectional accessibility is, and how we owe it to some unspecified external cohort to include accessibility in our diversity efforts.

Accessibility has nothing to do with the political pogrom cloaked in the lovable buzzword “diversity.” Zeldman’s writers’ articles were nothing but propaganda.

When presented with a pitch for an article along the lines of the one you are reading here, this former friend and mensch, whose home he was once thrilled to have me visit, turned me down.

I did tell you progressivism was a substitute religion. It is. Heretics are to be ostracized, and ideally destroyed.

Progressives ruin everything, accessibility included

I shall quote Michael Malice well more than once here. The Soviet-American rat bastard is author of a number of books, most relevantly The New Right, in which Malice defines progressivism as a thinly-veiled fundamentalist religion based on egalitarian principles dedicated to world domination via globalist hegemony. That describes Silicon Valley, and probably you. (You won’t read his book.)

Progressives rule the technology industry. They think they’re neutral, but they’re the biggest bullies on the planet. They’re too weak to lace up a boxing glove. Instead, they just mob you online and try to ruin your life. Quite often they succeed.

Right-wing assholes like to say that “diversity” just means anti-White. It does. It also means anti-male and anti-gay (anti-lesbian even more so). But, overall, diversity manifests itself as self-hating, well-educated Whites agitating for “Black bodies.” In the U.S. technology industry, diversity specifically means:

No part of this has anything to do with improving accessibility for persons with disabilities, including disabled “Black bodies.” If you think digital accessibility really needs to step up its game in honouring Black History Month, you’re a missionary, not a developer.

Taken to its logical conclusion:

Taken beyond even those extremes, paratransit operators won’t give you a ride if you aren’t black (or if you disagree with progressive orthodoxy). Sign-language interpreters and deaf-blind intervenors won’t translate for you, either, under the same conditions. We won’t make the works of non-black or heretical authors and writers accessible, as via DAISY talking books.

And, in the last step, we’ll agitate to have your government disability benefits terminated because you’re racist. (Being racist is the absolute worst thing in the world, except inasmuch as any usage of the word nigger, even by citing it as done just now, is immeasurably worse. Handily, the latter is proof of the former, though we don’t need proof; you’re racist if we say you are, while we remain pristine.)

“You have every right to your feelings”

Accessibility conferences are where the power layback chair’s rubber tires hit the road in the exercise of the misguided substitute religion that is progressivism.

A few so-called codes of conduct from accessibility conferences:

  1. “We are committed to inclusivity in our events and providing a welcoming environment to all, regardless of race, colour, national origin or ancestry, creed or religion, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or age.”

  2. “We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Harassment includes: the use or enabling of discriminatory language and imagery targeted at gender, gender identity and expression, disability, age, sexual orientation, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion, or technology choices; displaying sexual images in public spaces; deliberate or implied intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other activities; inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.”

Actually, only one of those codes of conduct was in force at an accessibility conference. The other one came from a furcon. When your accessibility conference is indistinguishable from a one that’s overrun by furfags, you’ve got a problem.

I speak from unassailable moral authority

Unlike Zeldman’s girl writers, I do have the right to sit here and lecture.

I am better than you, and I am in a position to judge.

Have you helped a disabled person today?

Or did you spend your time festooning the Internet with accusations that somebody other than you is racist?

Will you refuse to take the Neutrality Pledge because I came up with it?

Have you considered the possibility that you are one of the bad guys?

When are you going to get out of the accusations-of-racism business, the hating-your-White-self business, the ostracizing-heretics business, or the snitching business and get back to the digital fucking accessibility business?

That could be today. Choose wisely.

Updated 2020.09.05

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