Friday, March 28, 2008

Computer and web accessibility: All About Attitude

I once envisioned having my Chevy Silverado tricked out with a custom fade paint job and lots of sporty features from wide tires and rims to wood-trimmed interior with smoked glass. This truck was also going to feature an appropriate phrase emblazoned across the tailgate. The rear graphic would have a large, capital letter “A” and have three words running off it which read, “All About Attitude.”

Aside from being just a splashy paint job reflecting my thoughts on my ride, that phrase can also be applied to the area of computer and web accessibility. If a developer begins with the attitude that something cannot be done, such as making an application accessible to assistive technology, then how hard will he/she really try to make that take place?

On the flip side, though, if developers approach their work with the attitude that accessibility can be achieved, then isn’t that going to be more likely to work towards more positive solutions for everybody?

It is not being a pollyanna, but approaching one’s work with a positive attitude towards accessibility which leads one to conclude that the developer is willing to take that extra time to seek solutions and not throw in the towel at the first sign of resistance. If one believes that something can be achieved, then it seems logical that they will work diligently to reach that goal.

Of course, I’m not on a soapbox without cause. I just read an interesting post on the BarrierBreak blog regarding
making Flash accessible.
This post emphasized the importance of that same attitude in realizing the achievements of this consulting firm.

From the blog post:
“I’ve just come back from CSUN, 2008 and again had the same thoughts through most of my meetings. Mos people didnt even think that flash could be made accessible.”

“I was sitting there and wondering why is this the case? Accessible Flash is surely a possibility and actually is not as painful as most people think it to be. I think largely the problem is not knowin what is possible and then not knowing how to implement it.”

The author of that post, Shilpi Kedia, then goes on to offer a link to illustrate some examples of accessibility that BarrierBreak has achieved.

So, if they can make Flash accessible, why can’t others?

I find it interesting, and a bit discouraging, that the author was at CSUN, the showcase for accessibility solutions and that she found that negative attitude to be so pervasive. Instead of saying, “We can’t make it accessible,” developers can learn a lot from that one simple, but very noticeable point in the BarrierBreak blog post: Accessibility is all about attitude.

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