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.
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:
Accessibility for Manitobans Act, 2013: passed unanimously
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005: unanimous consent
Accessible Canada Act, 2018: unanimous consent
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.
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.
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