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Why I'm Not an Accessibility Expert

This past weekend Dave Rupert put out a blog post talking about being publicly shamed for having poor accessibility. In his closing thoughts he talks about how; despite his growing knowledge and experience designing accessible products, he stills finds “creating end-to-end accessible experiences difficult.” I particularly resonated with the penultimate sentence of the post.

After nearly thirty years of making websites –despite being someone who cares deeply– I’m more confident in my ability to produce an inaccessible experience than an accessible one.

I call myself an Accessibility Advocate, a term I am very comfortable with. I will always go to bat for accessibility, fighting hand-over-fist for individuals who so often are forgotten, ignored, or treated like an afterthought stapled on at the end. I believe that “Accessible Design” is “Good Design,” creating a more usable experience improves that experience for everyone. I have first-hand experience with cognitive disabilities, and have experienced temporary and situational physical disabilities.

Despite all of that, I do not call myself an expert. I do not believe any one person could be an “Accessibility Expert.” There is simply too much to know. I can not tell you how someone who is bind personally experiences the web, what tools they use, or how they navigate a page. I don’t have experience with getting vertigo because something moved too fast across a screen, or getting derailed from an experience because of a distracting audio source.

I know all of these things happen, and that all of these people are just as deserving of a great experience as the rest of us, but even I make mistakes. All I can do is try my best, and call for others to do the same. The world of accessibility is a vast one. It can often feel like an overwhelming amount of information to try and retain, but start small. Something is better than nothing.

In the words of the Lorax:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot.

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Adam Sedwick

I work on Design systems and Advocate for Accessibility on the web.



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