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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Accessibility is not a binary state

Believe it or not, this has come has a bit of a revelation to me!

What is accessibility?

Of course there are certain things that we associate as being accessible or not. For example, step-free entrances are accessible, whereas a flight of steps isn't. Poor contrast on a website isn't whereas good contrast is. 

We have guidelines, which tell us what various places/services need in order to be classed as accessible, and that is helpful... to a point.

So what's the problem?

The problem is, everyone is different. I have three people in mind. We are all wheelchair users. I also have a ramp in mind. One of my friends would definitely NOT be able to get up it. I would (with some difficulty). The other chap would get up it, no problem. 

There are so many disabilities and they all have different access needs. A blind person (I presume) quite likes all those little pavement bumps that let you know there is a road, crossing, steps, etc. As a wheelie with a spinal cord injury, they really cause me a lot of pain. So we have to compromise all the time.

You think you've got access as good as possible but then find there is a new problem. Things change. People change. Equipment changes. So accessibility is a bit of a moving feast.

Is there a solution?

Yes. I don't expect everyone, everywhere to get it right all the time. What I do expect, is for people to listen and acknowledge the issues. If a solution is immediately possible, then do it. If not, let me know what you will do in the short and long term. 

I've just discovered a new issue with some eLearning. It's an issue that will be in every package I've produced. I'm aware of it now but I can't fix them all immediately. I can thank the person who let me know about it, ask if they have had any other issues, listen and try to understand... and put a plan in place to get it put right. 

I wouldn't dream of laughing it off and saying, "Oh yeah, that's silly, isn't it?" and then doing nothing (with a gormless expression on my face). Yet some do. Fortunately most don't. Most want to get it sorted.

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