May 22, 2021
10th GAAD: Awareness Matters
A small effort to raise awareness with a big payoff: A platform is more accessible because I spoke up. Here’s the story for Global Accessibility Awareness day.
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. If you are reading this post, chances are you knew that, or at least you have some idea what it might be about. And if you’re reading this post, chances are you know me and know I’ve been on a bit of a roll with accessibility and inclusivity lately. I’ve been working with it a lot with my clients. We’ve been tackling the issue with the team during the ethical move and I’ve been attending digital events to strengthen my knowledge of the subject.
But for the global awareness day, I have to admit; I had been cynical for a while. I sometimes get all caught up in the excitement of awareness days and awareness months, and do all the posting and all the challenges and hope it makes a difference. Other times I see all the excitement about the day and all the noise that gets made about things that matter, and I see it come and go and no one makes any changes. I sometimes worry that putting on a rainbow or zebra stripes or pink ribbons for a day or a month gives us the feeling of having done something without really having made much of an effort.
This time around, something happened that made me rethink all that cynicism. Some weeks ago, I was looking for google forms alternatives to run a survey; I was looking at all the usual services that I’d used in the past, but I couldn’t find one that worked for what I needed and didn’t feel icky to use. I started looking around for something new and BlockSurvey came up in my search.
I immediately loved their stance on privacy, data and encryption and couldn’t wait to take it out for a spin. The interface was easy to understand, and everything looked simple and crisp. I was so happy until I tried to navigate the survey by tabbing into it. It saddened me to realize that the very first accessibility check I could do, the platform couldn’t handle.
Looking around the site I saw they had a Discord server set up for their users, so I joined and bring up the issue, I’ve made a point of mentioning accessibility to platforms I have to use or would love to use but they are not accessible. The developers replied to me seeing they would implement it soon. I had heard that line before. Accessibility is always in the roadmap, but it’s never a priority.
But lo-and-behold, a few weeks later their newsletter went out, and I was surprised to see they had already started putting in the work to make their entire product accessible. I also got a lovely message from Wilson from BlockSurvey, thanking me for highlighting accessibility to them, explaining that they weren’t really aware of the issue but that now they absolutely understand the importance and are going to be implementing it fully.
I had never been happier to be proven wrong. I’m incredibly excited to think that this already great product is going to be even better and serve a broader audience thanks to the tiniest of efforts to raise awareness. Awareness matters and it can make a difference.