Policy versus Practice: The International Case for Digital Accessibility

Talk by Dana Frayne

The World Health Organization estimates that about 15% of the world’s population has a disability, and yet, the majority of the Internet is not accessible to people with disabilities. The reasons for this are varied and intertwined with context, particularly within the realms of legislative and design practices. This talk provides an overview of the current digital accessibility landscape by discussing Dana’s postgraduate thesis findings at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute. The talk will begin with a discussion of international accessibility guidelines, and then will transition to an analysis of the social norms that affect the implementation of accessibility guidelines. 

View Dana’s Presentation


Dana Frayne: Go ahead and get started.

So before we dive in, thank you, Amber, for that wonderful introduction. I also just want to give a little background as well about who I am and why I’ll be talking about what I’m talking about today.

So my name is Dana Frayne. I’m at the University of Oxford as a master’s student and specifically I’m at the Internet Institute so I spend my days thinking about how the Internet essentially affects society, particularly in relation to how the Internet is accessible online.

Before coming to Oxford, I was already quite interested in digital accessibility so I don’t think it surprised any of my friends or people who know me that I wanted to study this for my master’s thesis. In particular, like Amber said, I worked as a freelance digital accessibility consultant and one of my projects working on the American Civil Liberty–Civil Liberties Union home page so that it was accessible was really great.

So currently finishing up the master’s degree at Oxford and I’m gonna be talking about some of my thesis findings today as well as, you know, some of my personal experiences working in digital accessibility. So, as sort of the agenda for the talk today, first I’m gonna kind of give a overview of my research goals and then transition to a brief discussion of the theoretical frameworks that are kind of driving that question.

Then I’m going to be examining briefly the method I use and then the findings and future directions. So, the main takeaway from my background earlier, is that I am coming from both a practical perspective on one side but then also theoretical, more academic, perspective and I mentioned my course work at Oxford and that involves a thesis which, one of the main requirements is having a research question, so on the screen now is mine which says:

“What is the role of social norms in the implementation of digital accessibility practices in the technology industry?”

So, with this question, I was essentially working toward figuring out and observing the different norms that operate when people are trying to put digital accessibility policies into practice.

So one question I got in is why study this particular topic? And there are a few reasons, the first one being that I have found there is a gap in the academic literature regarding social norms and digital accessibility, partially because there is not, I’d say, a great deal of academic research that, you know, sort of publicly exists squarely on the topic of digital accessibility.

You know, furthermore, the research that does exist is often–it can be siloed into niche topics and circles so sometimes there is a risk of being sort of put into echo chambers of people who already feel quite strongly about digital accessibility, and then you know, for the research that does exist, the data does not always, you know, cover the aspect of implementation so particularly in the technology industry, sometimes I’ve found that the viewpoints can be a bit disconnected between, you know, industry versus academia.

So one of the goals of my research is to sort of, you know, merge these two viewpoints together, not that they exist, you know, completely separately but that was one of the goals. And then, you know, secondly, or second, digital accessibility is highly, highly interdisciplinary which I’m sure a lot of people tuning in can relate to this idea that, you know, to work in digital accessibility sometimes it feels like, you know, you specialize in a lot of different areas from, you know, the technical part to the legal part to, you know, the theory part, and there are lots of different parts to it.

So I–that was another reason I wanted to kind of address social norms because they touch on, you know, all those areas.

And then finally, the third reason which is the main reason I wanted to study this is, you know, my main personal experiences with digital accessibility and working in digital accessibility, I feel like I have, you know, personally experienced these social norms that I’m going to talk about and my hope in bringing them up today is that, you know, maybe, you know, someone tuning in will also have experienced this and I think, as a community of people who care about digital accessibility, it’s important to, you know, kind of rally around, you know, advocating for digital accessibility.

So, that’s kind of the goal with my research and the goal that I’m–that I have today and I think that’s partially why events like these are so great because it brings the community together. So, moving on into the research itself, I’m not going to spend a great deal of time defining theories and frameworks but I’ve included the major theorist in parentheses here on the screen, along with, you know, their associated theories.

So if you’re interested and wanna learn more about anything I’m talking about, I have a list of references at the end if you wanna check it–check out these theories further. But the first one says the social model of disability and Mike Oliver and Tom Shakespeare are two of the, you know, leading architects of this framework.

And it has its foundations in the United Kingdom, sort of the activist grassroots movement when there was a big push from the medical model of disability to the social model. And the conception of the social model was, you know, founded in this idea that social barriers blocked participation in social groups.

So this is a problem because, you know, this, you know, potentially could lead to obstacles for people with disabilities to lead a fulfilling and high quality of life. And I mention this here, primarily, because the social model is now the primary mode in which scholars studying the topic of disability utilize and it’s therefore, you know, the model that drives this research.

Just gonna take a sip real quick.

Okay, well, so, moving on to the next theory I have listed. So, intersectionality from Kimberlé Crenshaw who is a brilliant feminist scholar. She, you know, coined and is one of the lead architects of this concept, intersectionality, which essentially means the aspects of identity are fluid as opposed to concrete, you know, single artifacts of one’s self and self-presentation.

And in other words, you know, intersectionality is sort of this idea that multiple identities like–dimensions of identity like race, socioeconomic status, gender, ability, you know, so on, they deserve an equitable weight when kind of considering identity politics.

So, based on this, you know, cornerstone theory, it’s–I’d say it’s fair to suggest that disability is intertwined with, you know, a lot of different dimensions of identity, so when talking about this research, I feel like it’s really important to acknowledge that, you know, disability doesn’t, you know, essentially exist in a vacuum.

It’s, you know, there are lots of parts of identity to think about so I just wanna note up front that I try to, you know, incorporate intersectionality into my research and just general life approach.

And then, you know, moving on to the next framework, the narrative self, which is proposed by and, you know, really led by this philosopher named Marya Schechtman and, you know, essentially the narrative self presents this idea that a cohesive collection of one’s memories and ideas about the self come together to present, you know, the self presentation so, in other words, whenever I hear someone say, “This is, you know, on brand for this person,” I sort of think of this theory because it’s essentially, you know, Schechtman’s idea that, you know, presentations of the self, you know, it’s a collection of different memories and artifacts that are shared online.

So, with these theories in mind, I’m gonna transition to a discussion of the findings and the process of gathering the findings. So for my thesis, I conducted a series of interviews with accessibility experts and practitioners and it’s important to note that the primary framework that I used was the postmodernist viewpoint because it was really, you know, I related to it a lot because it emphasized the nuanced nature of, you know, the interviewer and the interviewee relationship, along with the broader philosophical belief that, you know, multiple versions of the truth can exist in society.

Also I was conscientious about the broader postmodernist push in academia to adhere to equitable sampling practices in order to better represent diverse experiences in the findings. I’m just gonna–okay, sorry.

I feel like I’m battling a bit of a cold coming on, so, sorry about that. Okay, back to it. So, the second point was that just another, you know, minor know is that one of my concerns with the interview method was sometimes people can say, you know, interviews purely produce descriptive findings but, you know, I would kind of push back against this idea in the sense that it’s–interviews are useful, particularly in sociological research to uncover social norms and some perspectives that can sometimes be hidden.

So now I’m gonna shift to a discussion of the findings and, to do that, I am going to read off a brief scenario.

Okay, so, the–I’m gonna read what’s onscreen now. So, imagine that you’re working at a company that is launching a new website tomorrow. You primarily work as a product designer, but you’re considered the “go-to” person for digital accessibility in the company. You don’t personally work on the team that’s preparing for launch, but a manager from a different team knows that you know a lot about accessibility.

This manager emails you to ask, “Hey! Can you make the website accessible before the launch tomorrow?” Less than a day is not a lot of time to make a website accessible, but you really want to help because no one else in the company seems to know about the specific accessibility guidelines.

So you ask the manager, “Sure, but, you know, what has already been done for accessibility?” They respond by saying, “We only just remembered because we don’t want to get in trouble with an inaccessible site. If you could just check the boxes for the basic accessibility criteria before launch, that would be great!”

Okay, so let’s dissect this for a moment. You know, I cannot see the comments right now but I would venture to ask if anyone listening or, you know, watching has ever experienced a scenario similar to this. I know bits and pieces of this.

I certainly have, but essentially I wanted to share this, you know, fictional scenario that’s sort of drawn from some truths that I, you know, experienced because it represents all three of the social norms that I’m gonna talk about today.

So, the three social norms have, like I mentioned in the agenda, are–so the first one’s compliance culture which I think hopefully a lot of people find interesting. And then the second one is valuation of accessibility work and then the third one is educational opportunities.

So now I’m going to transition into a discussion of each of these social norms by talking about what they are, how they play a role in digital accessibility, and then why they exist. So, first, compliance culture. In relation to digital accessibility is a concept that’s discussed a great deal in actually Professor Sarah Lewthwaite’s research.

She focuses on studying the pedagogy of digital accessibility. So her research is really fascinating and if you’re interested in learning more about compliance culture, I would definitely recommend looking up some of her articles. Or you can email me afterwards and I can, you know, send you some as well.

But anyways, you know, as a concept, compliance culture is this idea that digital accessibility is only a set of rules to abide by as opposed to a genuine, you know, approach to accessibility that reinforces creativity and continuity.

And I, you know, I also wanna note here before moving forward that just the name itself, compliance culture, you know, can potentially be misleading in the sense, you know, when I first heard about it, I was a bit confused because on its own, you know, I’d argue that compliance is a good thing, you know, complying with policies shows that, you know, people care, but, you know, the main difference between compliance versus compliance culture is, you know, it graduates from being this, you know, practice to, you know, an attitude and set of behaviors making it more aligned with a social norm.

So that’s when it becomes more of an issue and this relates to digital accessibility because, you know, in interviews with digital accessibility practitioners working in the technology industry, there was this repeated theme about the ongoing effort to kind of stymie the practices of compliance culture because, you know, compliance culture can block, you know, sustainability of continued accessibility practices, particularly because it can sort of stand as a road block between working towards, you know, creativity, innovation, and you know, continuous accessibility process as opposed to this static, rigid, set of rules.

So, going back to the scenario I presented, I wanted to highlight this particular part that sort of exemplifies this idea.

So on the screen it says the quote, “We only just remembered because we don’t want to get in trouble with an inaccessible site.”

This is coming from the perspective of the manager. “If you could just check the boxes for the basic accessibility criteria before launch, that would be great.”

So, this certainly has elements of compliance culture, in particular there’s the sense of urgency. “We only just remembered.”

This is a problem because accessibility should certainly be a–in an ideal world, accessibility should be incorporated from the very beginning of the product development process for, you know, a multitude of reasons, but in particular, you know, one of those reasons is that it prevents sort of this last-minute stressful time of trying to make something accessible really quick because it sort of changes from this, you know, process of, okay, how can we make this user experience a good one as opposed to, okay, how can we quickly just, you know, meet the very basic accessibility criteria so we don’t get in trouble.?

You know, those are two different–there are significant differences bet those two approaches, and it’s sort of where compliance culture is really relevant. So before moving on to the next social norm, I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on, you know, some reasons why I think compliance culture exists and regarding the theoretical concerns, I think this represents sort of a quick fix mentality in the technology industry because, you know, from my experience–from my experience working in tech, I have found that, you know, there are, you know, pressures to work quickly and launch things quickly.

And, you know, I think that’s good for, you know, innovation. However, I think in order for accessibility to, you know, exist in that sort of very fast process, it’s essential that it’s ongoing consideration as opposed to, okay, let’s look at this right before we launch.

And then, another–something also that, you know, I’ve been thinking about, and some other scholars in this space, like Professor — and Professor Sarah Lewthwaite also have, you know, produced research on, also other great scholars, but essentially there’s this debate where sometimes the definitions of accessibility, the policies of accessibility, can be quite broad.

So sometimes it can feel difficult to know exactly what to do in order to make this something accessible, when if, you know, someone doesn’t know how to make something accessible, which I talk further about in the upcoming norms.

And then, the last two points: practical constraints, so again, time constraints are a consideration, and the availability of resources. So, again with this scenario, this scenario presented, you know, trying to make something accessible in a very short amount of time and there’s, you know, putting all the responsibility on one person, can be quite difficult.

You know, the scenario didn’t mention how, you know, expansive the product was so that can again be quite challenging. So, moving on to the next — social norm. I wanted to talk about the attitude and behaviors associated with the valuation of digital accessibility work.

And here, I wanna kind of pause for clarity. When I say, “valuation,” I am talking about both the financial and opportunity cost associated with the work of digital accessibility.

So, the first point I want to address is that the values associated with this digital accessibility work are quite varied, you know, based on industry and location and a lot of different factors, and also, you know, going back to, you know, Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality, there are a lot of factors at play with cost and value, so it’s–so I wanna make sure I clarify here that, you know, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

However, there is this trend I noticed in my research and personal experience that this, you know, it is not always–accessibility work is not always, you know, compensated fairly in my opinion and, you know, one of the most common ways that this manifests is and maybe some people watching or listening have had this experience where people who are, you know, experts or knowledgeable, even, in digital accessibility practices are called on to do the work of multiple people and so, by this, I mean that sometimes, digital accessibility is sort of viewed as maybe a side project or optional and, you know, in this scenario, you know, this person is sort of–it’s not clear whether this person’s going to be compensated or recognized properly, you know, for their work.

And the second point I wanna make–the second point I wanna make–want to make about this is that the valuation of accessibility work, often it can be–it can co-exist alongside this phenomenon of being siloed into an accessibility maintenance role, even, you know, when the job description doesn’t call for it.

And sort of, by this, I mean that accessibility work requires a flexibility as I mentioned earlier with, you know, compliance culture, accessibility in my view is a continuous, you know, ongoing process. So when it’s viewed through a lens of, you know, being optional or not as valued, that really puts a strain on the whole process because it doesn’t necessarily give the space that’s needed for digital accessibility to really, you know, prosper and be successful.

So returning to the example presented earlier, the way this issue of value presents itself is through the following quote on the screen, which says, “A manager from a different team knows that you know a lot about accessibility.” So, reflecting on this for a moment, the way the social norm manifested in this scenario is that, you know, it’s not clear from this scenario that accessibility is considered a part of this, you know, person’s usual accessibilities.

It’s noted that the person is knowledgeable; however, you know, it’s also noted that they are primarily a product designer so you can kind of assume that they, you know, their whole job isn’t focused on accessibility which, you know, presents a different scenario but it’s not clear–the main point I’m trying to make here is it’s not clear whether this person is going to be compensated for their time working on this accessibility process.

It’s sort of presented as a favor as opposed to, you know, you’re gonna get, you know, recognition for your work, which is really, really important in terms of value. And then, the other point I wanna mention which is not specifically mentioned in the slide but the general attitude, sort of, of this manager kind of signals to me a lack of, you know, recognition for the accessibility process as, again, being, you know, continuous process that should be incorporated from the very beginning when possible.

So, this sort of leads to the question of why do these valuation challenges exist in the first place. Well, in my opinion, the answer is quite complicated, so it–I’d argue that there are a lot of parallels that exist, you know, with the broader disability rights movement and, you know, I’m looking at the time. For sake of time, it’s sort of hard to dive into that now, but if you wanna talk more about that, definitely send me an email and I’d love to talk about it but, essentially, the, you know, the main relationship here is that I’d argue that the struggle with value is part of a overarching, you know, broader perspective that exists in the technology industry where stakeholders don’t necessarily recognize accessibility work with the value of other disciplines, other technical skills.

And, you know, this is a problem because, you know, this can manifest in different ways where, you know, maybe someone doesn’t get promoted or recognized in the same way that, you know, other people do because if, you know, the employers don’t recognize, okay, accessibility work, it’s very significant, it’s important, and it’s, you know, critical to a product having a strong useable experience that, you know, that can create significant problems.

And then the second part of this where, you know, sometimes accessibility can sort of be viewed through this lens of volunteering where, as I mentioned earlier, it’s unclear whether this person in this scenario is going to be properly compensated for their time and, if this is just a favor, you know, that doesn’t really–that doesn’t really, you know, help with accessibility being properly recognized.

And last point I wanna make about this before moving to the next social norm is I personally struggle with this.

You know, and maybe people tuning in as well really struggle because as someone who’s really passionate about digital accessibility, I’m so, you know, I’m really happy when people, you know, express interest in it, even if it is last-minute or, you know, even if it is challenging.

So I’m definitely more, you know, inclined to I wanna help as much as I can but that can also present a challenge when, even if I help, if my, you know, work isn’t valued in the same way, it can be quite frustrating.

So, on that note, moving to the third and final social norm that I’m going to discuss today, is the specific attitudes and behaviors that people face when, you know, first entering the field of digital accessibility, specifically in relation to educational opportunities for accessibility.

Okay, so a recurring theme with that, the offerings for digital accessibility education are not particularly robust in comparison to other skills, you know, other technical skills in design and development. And the repercussions for these lack of accessibility resources is, you know, widespread and I kind of wanna, you know, focus this section on a couple of key points but, you know, one of the points I have listed onscreen is that there is no, you know, one pathway to studying digital accessibility, which on the one hand is good because, you know, I, you know, personally relate to this idea that I have picked up lessons about digital accessibility on the job which helps in terms of, you know, learning practical ways to apply accessibility but, at the same time, you know, if one doesn’t have access to work opportunities, to learn, it can make things quite difficult to gather digital accessibility, you know, specific practices, which leads to kind of the third point I have here, which is there is, I have found, as well as in my research, that there are pretty significant differences that exist between, you know, learning about accessibility from this theoretical perspective versus implementing it.

And, you know, there are lots of, I was, before moving, I did wanna mention, you know, there are lots of great resources and classes out there and, you know, if you have any favorite classes or things I would love to, you know, see them in the comments.

But I wanted to note, you know, in terms of mainstream educational options, you know, I would say there are not any, you know, major degrees that specify in digital accessibility.

There are minor certificates, you know, online classes which are great, but I, you know, I think if, for example, if there was a master’s degree in digital accessibility I would totally want to enroll in that, but from my search, there is not, and that can, you know, that is sort of a challenge in and of itself because, you know, stakeholders at universities and educational programs do not always recognize accessibility work with the value of other disciplines.

So one way this manifests specifically is, you know, from people I’ve talked to, accessibility can, you know, be incorporated into computer science classes or sometimes even have a whole course dedicated to accessibility which is great, but I feel like and–I feel like this is a common feeling but accessibility is so expansive and, like I mentioned in the previous slide, it’s hard to sort of narrow it down versus into, you know, theory versus practice, so I feel like if there was more room and more recognition of digital accessibility in these mainstream educational places and spaces, I should say, that, you know, would lead to more widespread education.

Okay, so through this example, I–the social norm sort of manifested through the quote, “You primarily work as a product designer, but you’re considered the,” quote, “‘go-to’ person for digital accessibility in the company.” So, solely from what I’ve gathered, particularly at smaller companies and startups, it’s sort of not uncommon for there to be sort of this, you know, “go-to” person for accessibility, you know, which is fine but I think, you know, I think in an ideal world, it would be amazing if, you know, every person had at least a foundation in accessibility because, you know, accessibility doesn’t exist in this vacuum.

It’s not just, you know, an engineering concern, design concern, content concern, you know, a recruiting concern. You know, it really exists widespread so I think it’s not particularly fair for the, you know, responsibility to be with one person so sort of one way to combat this is for, you know, education to be more widespread and at the university training crash course level, accessibility, more accessibility knowledge would be good.

But employers can also, you know, have a role in this when, you know, when new employees are being onboarded, be great if accessibility is discussed and, you know, acknowledged and specific practices for that company are shared.

So it’s not sort of reliant on one person. Okay, so wrapping up, we’re about 35 minutes so I think about 5 to 10 more minutes and then I’d love to take any questions for a bit. But the first future direction is, I think it’s really important for people working in digital accessibility to work towards combating solutionism, so I should say here, solutionism is sort of a concept designed by this theorist, Morozov, who I cite more in the references but, essentially, solutionism is this idea that there is a goal of solving problems, as opposed to, you know, actually addressing the complexity of problems that exist in the technology industry.

And I think this is quite relevant to digital accessibility because, you know, digital accessibility, as I mentioned, you know, it’s quite complex. Not only is it an ongoing process but it’s very widespread and interdisciplinary, so it’s critical that it’s viewed in that light. It’s not just, you know, ticking the specific boxes of policy, but it’s recognized as a comprehensive, you know, widespread consideration so some concrete ways to address this would be, you know, making sure that every person in, you know, a company or a product team, is knowledgeable about at least the basics of accessibility but also, you know, consistently testing with users to make sure, okay, this product, you know, testing with users with disabilities so there’s an open line of communication and that you’re recognizing that, okay, the goal is to make this a good usability experience, not just to, you know, tick off some boxes.

Then the second future direction is there’s really a critical need to increase the value of accessibility work.

And like I said earlier, this is not, you know, there are certainly exceptions to this. However, I would say, you know, a trend that I am kind of concerned about is, you know, it’s not always–the value of accessibility work is not always, I think, given the recognition that it deserves.

And, you know, people, stakeholders in the tech industry, certainly play a role in this but, you know, also, you know, anyone on a product team just, you know, advocating for accessibility, calling out the work, supporting, you know, people who also work in accessibility, is, you know, a great way to address this.

And then, finally, which is probably the future direction that I’m most excited about, is this, you know, starting point that I wanna suggest is that integrating creativity into the conversation is really a, you know, a great way, I think, to draw greater interest and respect of digital accessibility–greater interest and respect in the technology industry.

And, you know, there are a lot of great projects in this space which, you know, I can also share links to if you wanna email me afterwards. But essentially, creativity is, you know, a great vehicle for, you know, approaching digital access.

And sort of to, you know, wrap up, I wanted to say, you know, stakeholder changes are, you know, critical. Creative approaches are great, and then collaboration in the accessibility community is also, you know, really important, which is why, you know, events like this are really exciting and, you know, I’m really excited to be a part of this and, you know, connect and, you know, virtually meet people who also really care about digital access, so that’s it.

These are my references. The slides are available at the WordPress Accessibility site if you wanna, you know, go through the references. You can also send me an email. My email’s dana.frayne@gmail.com, and also my Twitter handle is dana_frayne.

I just want to thank quickly, you know, Joe Dolson and the whole WordPress Accessibility team for having me and I’m happy to take any questions.

Amber: Well, thank you so much, Dana. We do have a couple of questions.

The first one is: “Do you consider that the multiple truths viewpoint is reflected in the fact that there’s frequently no one true solution to web accessibility questions?”

Dana: That’s a great question. So it is something that I, you know, think about because I totally, you know, align with this idea that digital accessibility is a fluid social construction and, by that, I mean, you know, accessibility means something different, I think, to each person.

So I really, you know, hesitate, kind of, when, you know, accessibility is defined as, you know, X, Y, and Z. I think it really is dependent on local context and, you know, again tying back to this concept of intersectionality, it’s really important I think to acknowledge that, you know, accessibility doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It sort of touches on these different dimensions of identity, so I certainly think that there’s a connection there and thanks for pointing that out for who asked that question.

Amber: So the next question is “What would you like to see done with your research? Do you have goals for it?”

Dana: Yes, this is another great question. I mean, I think, hopefully, I, you know, would love to publish my research in a academic article but, you know, that is a pretty intense process, but I, you know, it’s something that I hope to do. And also next year, I hope to, you know, fingers crossed, I’ll be able to go to Morocco with the Fulbright program to do a research grant where I can sort of continue this research and, you know, approach it from a different lens of studying digital accessibility within a specific context, as opposed to, you know, this research today.

I recognize that it’s, you know, quite broad, so I think it would be exciting to sort of go at it from a different angle and be more specific.

Amber: Do you–are you hoping that it’ll inspire certain actions either at the government level or among people who work in digital accessibility on a daily basis?

Dana: Sorry, can you repeat that real quick?

Amber: Oh, I was just following up on that question. Are you hoping that your research would inspire certain actions either at the government level or with those of us that work in accessibility on a daily basis?

Dana: Well, sure, yeah. I mean, I think that would be great. You know, I think the one, you know, main takeaway that I really hope my research can share is that I think, you know, my personal experience working in digital accessibility sometimes it can feel, you know, a bit, you know, lonely if, you know, going back to that scenario where there’s one person on this team who’s considered the expert.

I feel like, you know, when I was conducting this research I think it made me feel quite an appreciation for the community and, you know, knowing that there are lots of people all over the world who really care about digital accessibility and, if you’re working on this project, you know, you’re not–if you experience something, there’s probably someone somewhere who is experiencing something similar so if you can sort of find, you know, reach out to the community and, you know, make connections and feel the sense of camaraderie, I think that would be something.

I hope that is inspired through this research.

Amber: Yeah, no, that is definitely something with WordPress, right? And accessibility as well. We’re very big on community building, so. There’s a question here: “Do you have ideas about ways to get people excited about the creative aspects of accessibility instead of viewing it as a maintenance task?

Dana: Yes, certainly. I mean, I think–let’s see, how to structure this. Well, you know, one example that I wanna, you know, I think would be great to draw attention to is there is this project called Alt Text as Poetry. And I, you know, the specific authors kind of, I can’t recall them off the top of my head but hopefully, I can, you know, add them in the–add a link in the chat.

Amber: Shannon Finnigan?

Dana: Yes, yeah, yeah. And then, so I think this is, you know, a really brilliant project because the, you know, they really exemplify how, you know, alt text is can–you know, some people can view it as, you know, the static, rigid practice but it’s, in a way, I feel like it is sort of a poetic form, and they really, you know, encapsulate that and I think projects like that are really exciting.

I know there’s also, you know, a movement in the ‘zine world to sort of push for digital accessibility and sort of, you know, when there are artistic projects like that, that I think that can be really exciting, and it’s something that excites me.

Amber: Yeah, I think we have time for one more question and it’s actually my question.

I’m wondering how do you propose to increase the valuation of digital accessibility so, you know, we see a lot of almost like fear-based arguments for accessibility and I’m wondering if you have thoughts on ways to increase that valuation that’s maybe not fear-based, or do you feel like, looking at the social, that that is just the way to go?

Dana: That’s my–I mean, that’s a great question. I feel like it’s something I sort of debate internally as well because, I mean, I think we do live in sort of a call-out culture where fear is sort of–can be a driving force.

However, I think, you know, that’s not the only way to go about it. I think, you know, grassroots activism and sort of going back to, you know, the social model of disability, I’d say that the grassroots kind of tactics used in activism can also be used for digital accessibility at, you know, in this idea of increasing value. And then also I wanna say, you know, there is strength in numbers and I think–I guess I’ve mentioned it a lot now, but I would say, you know, but I keep say it ’cause I think it’s really important, this idea of community and, you know, fostering support, you know, between different accessibility experts and practitioners is really important to show, you know, we are, you know, a strong group of people who are — like numerous group of people who, you know, really care and wanna advocate for digital accessibility.

Amber: Well, thank you.

Dana: Yeah, thank you for having me.

Amber: Yes, so thank you, everyone, for attending this WP–

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Questions on “Policy versus Practice: The International Case for Digital Accessibility

  1. Do you consider that the multiple-truths viewpoint is reflected in the fact that there is frequently no “one true” solution to web accessibility questions?