Give Back to the Accessibility Community
When you start in any new area, it is often natural to silently listen and learn from others. However, when you become more comfortable, we encourage you to give back to the community that helped you grow by sharing your own resources and experiences.
Publish Resources or Experiences
The resource that you are using right now began with a commitment to improve accessibility within the MacArthur Foundation. During this process, the MacArthur Foundation recognized a need for more resources that were targeted for nonprofit organizations and resolved to fill this gap, at least in part.
Despite our efforts, there will always be gaps in the tools and techniques that are available. If you create something that fills one of these gaps for your organization, we encourage you to share your solution with others. Chances are another organization could benefit from your work.
Below are a few examples of companies and organizations that chose to make their private solutions available to the public, so they could benefit others.
- When the University of Minnesota developed accessibility resources for their faculty and staff, they could easily have chosen to place them on an intranet or Learning Management System. Instead, they created the publicly-available Accessible U, which is a great resource for everyone.
- Adobe once wrote a blog post on their work in making a complex site menu accessible. A commenter asked if they could make their solution public, and they listened, launching their example of an accessible mega menu.
- PayPal also published their work to create a more accessible video player for others to learn from and use.
- The BBC HTML Accessibility Standards and BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines are internal guidelines, but the BBC decided to make them available publicly for the benefit of others. They even include a license outlining how these resources can be reused or modified.
- Design company Nerdery regularly publishes insights from their own work on topics like Accessibility and Empathy and prioritizing and executing accessibility.
Share Your Experiences
You don’t have to create new tools or techniques to help the web accessibility community grow. Your experiences and insights may also be valuable to others, especially those who are just starting to go through things you have already experienced within your organization. You may feel like your story is not worth sharing because you are not part of a large organization or because you are still relatively new to accessibility, but these are precisely the stories that will help others in your same situation.
One example of this type of resource comes from the Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD). In an article on their site, they share lessons learned in designing the new PYD website—Partners for Youth with Disabilities
It is natural to be hesitant about sharing your experiences, especially if you are very early in the process. Some groups may even see this as a legal liability, like they are painting a target on their back and inviting scrutiny. It is probably true that you want to wait until you have a clear roadmap and are starting to see accessibility improvements, but if you wait until you have reached “full” accessibility, you will never share anything because accessibility is a continuum. Plus, by making your efforts public, you are making yourselves accountable to others, making it more likely you will stick to your timelines and keep your administrative support (and possibly even funding!). Your community will be proud of your efforts to make your program more inclusive, you should be too!
In 2016, the Microsoft CEO announced a reaffirmed commitment to universal design. In doing this, they acknowledged their accessibility shortcomings, but they also generated tremendous positive public sentiment. Since then, they have regularly shared updates on their progress and lessons learned from their journey.