Greta Thurman makes it the cover of Times for championing the environment. I may not make it the cover of Times, but I hope to make it on the cover of LinkedIn to spread the awareness of web accessibility in the business community.
Personally, I do not like being on the front of anything or in the spotlight. I prefer to lead quietly. My life is pretty quiet. My husband often remarks when he steps in the house after he returns from his week long business trip as a manufacturer’s rep, “Man, the house is quiet!”
I am deaf and was born this way. To me, it is no big deal. It is part of who I am. I have learned to make adaptations, adjustments or whatever you want to call it. People call it overcoming or conquering obstacles. Sure. Oftentimes, I found it amusing because the so-called obstacles that were placed in front of me were done by people. Yes, there were times it was extremely frustrating.
However – the real pain in life was not people. Yes, I am not going to lie, some of it was people and their bias. But the real barriers were lack of access to technology, lack of access to information. Lack of access to education. And lack of access to people. This inaccessibility, for a time period, prevented me from achieving certain goals. It did not mean I stopped fighting for those goals, it just took me longer to get there. Once those barriers were removed, my life was immensely improved.
We still have barriers, however – in the digital world. Websites. Mobile Applications. Video Games. Social Media.
We probably can give thanks to the Domino’s Pizza case for bringing it to the table again. Domino’s Pizza is a large company. My case in point I am trying to make is that this should be a conversation should be discussed among everyone who is in business and has an online presence. Regardless of how big or small they are. I just worked recently with an agency to discuss web accessibility remediation for a small fast food restaurant who is being sued for having an inaccessible website – they only had about 12 locations.
Before you can say or think, well – probably was sued by an “ambulance chaser” – that is not fair. It was amazing the comments that were made in "twitterville" and in even in Linkedin, about the person who sued Dominos. One example was, "couldn't the person pick up the phone and call?" For most of us, who have a disability (I am not speaking for others, I am speaking for myself here.) – we have made adjustments or accommodations to fit in “your world” for a very, very long time. Most of the time, we make quiet requests for accommodations. If we’re ignored or if our needs are or cannot be met, we move on to something else or to someone else who will listen. Right now, I have two pet peeves: Podcasters and Software Companies. Take a guess why.
Anyways, times have changed. People have changed. Technology has made advancements to improve lives of people. I know I have changed. I have experienced what it is like when technology has improved my life and given me access to where it was once inaccessible. For example, I was delighted when captioning became standard on television programs and then commercials. Then when e-mail became the “defacto” way to communicate over telephone. Then came along chat. Then video communication.
So, when I am confronted with something that is inaccessible when I know it should not be, I feel it is my right, as a prospective customer to inquire to see if accommodations can be made. If I am ignored – which happens unfortunately nine times out of ten, I can try again, move on, or sue the company.
Read what I just said. It has been my experience, nine times out of ten, I am ignored. Isn’t any wonder that some of these inaccessible website or mobile application cases end up being sued?
If they (the companies) had just responded and made the attempt to accommodate, they probably would not have been sued?
I am just person who is deaf. I could not imagine what it is like for a person who is blind, or in a wheelchair or any other form of disability other than my own. But the barriers we deal with on a daily basis are the bane of our existence. Sure, we laugh it off. We cry about it. We rant about it. Sometimes we have to REALLY pitch a fit. However, most of us, make adjustments. Overcome it. Lead quiet lives. There are over 48.9 million of us, by the way. Some of us work for you.
I am no Greta Thurman. I am not going to hold a sign up and stand somewhere with a sign, Strike for Accessibility. Though it is a tempting thought.