073: Building Empathy with Stakeholders to Drive Accessibility with Simon Miner

This episode is a recording of a May 2024 WordPress Accessibility Meetup where Simon Miner, founder at Pedal Point Solutions, discussed the critical importance of empathy in advocating for accessibility and building better initiatives. If you want to watch a video recording from the meetup, you may do so on the Equalize Digital website: Building Empathy with Stakeholders to Drive Accessibility: Simon Miner.


Summarized Session Information

This presentation focused on the importance of empathy in accessibility advocacy. Simon emphasized the significance of understanding and connecting with others’ experiences to foster effective accessibility initiatives. Empathy was defined as an active process of emotionally understanding another person’s point of view, which helps shift the mindset from “us versus them” to a more inclusive “we.” Simon outlined a spectrum of accessibility advocacy approaches, ranging from moral and ethical arguments to business and legal cases, and emphasized the importance of integrating empathy into each of these approaches.

Simon also highlighted the transformative power of “Eureka” moments in fostering empathy. He shared personal anecdotes and practical demonstrations to help build understanding and appreciation of the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

In discussing strategies for integrating accessibility into existing organizational processes, Simon stressed the importance of aligning with an organization’s culture. He suggested using inclusive language, such as replacing “but” with “and” to validate multiple concerns, and emphasized the need to understand and work within the organization’s values and priorities. This approach can help advocates fit accessibility into what is already happening, speeding up the process and gaining more support.

Simon provided additional strategies for maintaining empathy in accessibility advocacy. He suggested offering stakeholders a menu of options to choose from, rather than a single directive, to give them a sense of agency and ownership. He also emphasized the power of incremental progress, advising advocates to focus on “doing one thing” at a time to maintain momentum and prevent burnout.

Finally, Simon reminded the audience that progress in accessibility requires patience and persistence. He shared a story about an organization that took three years of advocacy, education, and external expert input to publish an accessibility statement, underscoring the importance of building relationships and trust over time.

Simon’s insights and experiences highlighted that becoming an advocate for accessibility is often a gradual journey, and fostering understanding and empathy in others requires sustained effort and dedication.

Session Outline

  • Empathy in accessibility advocacy
  • Eureka experiences
  • Injecting accessibility into what’s already happening
  • Empathetic strategies

Empathy in accessibility advocacy

What is empathy?

Empathy in accessibility advocacy is crucial. During the presentation, Simon Miner prompted the audience to define empathy, resulting in responses such as “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes,” “connecting,” and “relating to feelings and situations.”

Empathy involves emotionally understanding another person’s point of view and is an active process. Simon linked empathy to emotional intelligence, which involves appreciating and understanding another’s experiences and perspectives. This ability fosters solidarity and connection, which are essential for effective accessibility advocacy. Simon noted that empathy helps shift the mindset from “us versus them” to a more inclusive “we.”

Accessibility advocacy spectrum

Simon presented a spectrum of approaches to accessibility advocacy, inspired by a diagram from Kate O’Connor. The spectrum ranges from altruistic to self-serving approaches.

On the altruistic end, the moral and ethical argument asserts that creating accessible digital experiences is inherently the right thing to do. Next is the user experience approach, which highlights that accessible digital experiences are better for everyone, supported by well-documented data.

The business case for accessibility focuses on increasing revenue, market share, and brand reputation. Lastly, the legal argument emphasizes compliance with laws to reduce litigation risks.

Empathy in every approach

Empathy can be integrated into all approaches to accessibility advocacy. For instance, morally and ethically, accessible digital experiences are beneficial for everyone, including loved ones.

From a user experience perspective, accessible websites are more usable and appealing, encouraging support for businesses that prioritize accessibility. Legally, empathy helps avoid the unpleasantness of lawsuits aimed at achieving inclusion.

Disability and accessibility concerns affect everyone, emphasizing that aging and its associated changes make accessible tools invaluable. Simon reframed “disability” as “abilities in different directions,” underscoring that many everyday conveniences, such as glasses and curb cuts, originated from accessibility needs.

While advocating for accessibility because it is the right thing to do remains ideal, recognizing the importance of legal frameworks and empathy in all approaches is essential for comprehensive advocacy.

Eureka experiences

What is Euroka?

Eureka is a term with Greek origins that signifies a cry of joy or satisfaction upon discovering something spectacular. The word is famously attributed to Archimedes, a Greek mathematician who exclaimed “Eureka” upon realizing that the volume of water displaced in his bath was equal to the volume of his body. This realization led to significant mathematical theorems.

In the United States, “Eureka” is also the state motto of California, associated with the discovery of gold near Sutter’s Mill in 1848. Simon asked the audience to share their personal “Eureka” moments, leading to stories of sudden understanding and profound realizations.

Eureka to empathy

“Eureka” moments can foster empathy. Simon shared his own experience of learning music theory in college, which allowed him to articulate and understand concepts he had known intuitively. This enlightening experience enhanced his appreciation for music and its underlying structure. He encouraged the audience to consider how creating similar “Eureka” experiences for others can help them understand and appreciate the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Simon also spoke about an interaction with a Lyft driver who, after learning about web accessibility, became interested in making her website more accessible. This experience highlighted how practical demonstrations and interactive experiences can build empathy and understanding.

Empathy-building tools for disability

Simon discussed various tools that can help build empathy for disabilities. He emphasized the use of keyboards for navigation, screen readers, and browser extensions like No Coffee, which simulates color blindness, and dyslexia simulators.

Simon introduced Site Unseen, a Chrome extension he developed to obscure a website’s content and simulate the experience of navigating the web without sight. This tool, among others, helps users understand the importance of accessible design by providing a hands-on experience of web accessibility challenges.

Different types of disabilities

SituationalBright sunlightNoisy environmentNew parentHeavy accent
TemporaryCataractEar infectionArm injuryLaryngitis
PermanentBlindDeafOne armNon-verbal

Examples of different types of disabilities

While permanent disabilities are often associated with assistive technologies like white canes or wheelchairs, temporary disabilities also require accessible solutions. Examples include cataracts or a broken arm, which temporarily impair mobility or sight.

There are also situational disabilities, such as using a phone in bright sunlight or operating a device with one hand, which everyone experiences at some point. These examples illustrate the universal need for accessible technology.

Situational disabilities

Situational disabilities affect everyone daily. Examples include struggling to see a phone screen in bright light or filtering out background noise in a crowded room.

These common experiences underscore the importance of designing accessible digital experiences that accommodate a wide range of abilities and situations.

Injecting accessibility into what’s already happening

Fitting in instead of shaking up

It’s important integrating accessibility into existing processes within an organization rather than attempting to overhaul everything at once.

The need to understand and align with the organization’s culture to make the implementation of accessibility more effective. By fitting into what is already happening, advocates can speed up the process and gain more support.

Understanding an organization’s values and priorities is crucial for successful advocacy. It is recommended looking at mission statements and key organizational values, such as customer focus or data-driven decisions, to find opportunities to introduce accessibility in a way that aligns with those values.

“And” instead of “but”

Simon shared a simple yet powerful linguistic strategy: replacing the word “but” with “and” in conversations about accessibility.

Using “but” can feel dismissive and invalidate the previous statement, while “and” acknowledges both points and allows multiple truths to coexist. This shift in language can foster more productive discussions and help find solutions that address both accessibility and other organizational priorities.

For example, instead of saying, “I know we need to increase revenue, but accessibility is the law,” one could say, “We need to increase revenue, and we need to make accessibility a priority.” This approach validates both concerns and encourages collaborative problem-solving.

Build a network of accessibility champions

It’s important to build a network of accessibility champions within the organization. These champions are individuals who are either already empathetic towards accessibility or are learning to be. Look for allies across various departments, including software engineering, DevOps, IT, design, customer service, digital marketing, content creation, legal, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).

Simon shared a story about a customer service representative who was highly skilled with screen readers because her brother was blind. By leveraging her expertise, Simon’s team was able to ensure their web accessibility features were thoroughly tested before going live. He encouraged regular meetings with these champions to discuss advocacy, education, and integration of accessibility into projects.

Having a supportive network helps alleviate the feeling of working alone and can make the effort more sustainable and impactful.

Empathetic strategies

Provide a menu

Simon shared strategies for keeping empathy at the forefront when discussing and advocating for accessibility. He referenced a keynote by Jonah Berger at Axe-Con 2024, where Berger emphasized the importance of providing a menu of options rather than a single directive.

This approach helps stakeholders feel less pressured and more involved in the decision-making process. For instance, instead of saying, “We need to make our website accessible,” offering choices like reviewing designs for accessibility, testing accessibility with QA, or having end users report accessibility issues can grant stakeholders a sense of agency.

This method encourages ownership and participation, making them more likely to engage positively with the initiative.

Do one thing

Simon emphasized the power of incremental progress with the advice to “do one thing.” He highlighted a presentation by Michelle Jacques, who advocated for starting with small, manageable steps to scale accessibility.

Simon noted that while the breadth of accessibility standards and criteria can be overwhelming, focusing on one actionable task can lead to significant progress over time. Simon shared an example from a training session with an external vendor, where he encouraged participants to find just one thing that aligns with their daily work to improve accessibility.

This approach helps maintain momentum and prevents burnout by making the process more manageable.

Progress takes time

Progress in accessibility requires patience and persistence. Simon shared a story about an organization that became involved in accessibility after receiving a demand letter threatening legal action. This led to a lengthy process of implementing accessibility measures, including the contentious development of an accessibility statement. Simon explained that it took three years of advocacy, education, and external expert input to convince the organization to publish the statement.

This experience underscored the importance of building relationships and trust over time. Simon reminded the audience that becoming an advocate for accessibility is often a gradual journey, and fostering understanding and empathy in others requires sustained effort and dedication.


>> CHRIS HINDS: Welcome to the Accessibility Craft Podcast, where we explore the art of creating accessible websites while trying out interesting craft beverages. This podcast is brought to you by the team at Equalize Digital, a WordPress accessibility company and the proud creators of the Accessibility Checker plugin.

And now, on to the show.

>> AMBER HINDS: I am very excited to introduce our speaker today, Simon Miner. Simon is the founder of Pedal Point Solutions, an agency that helps you learn, practice, and experience digital accessibility. He’s a certified professional in web accessibility with more than 25 years experience in web development and software engineering. He is passionate about making websites accessible and creating tools to overcome digital barriers for people with disabilities.

Simon has been training corporations, colleges, and community organizations in web accessibility for over 10 years. If you’re in our Facebook group, he’s recently been sharing a lot of really great, helpful blog posts in there. We very much appreciate that. Welcome, Simon, to the meetup.

>> SIMON MINER: Thank you so much.

>> AMBER: I’m going to stop sharing so you can start sharing. While we’re getting set up with that, a quick note to everyone. We do have the Q&A module turned on for the webinar. We’re going to hold all questions to the end, but if you are able to put those in the Q&A, that would be helpful. Sometimes they can get lost in the chat. As soon as Simon’s done with his presentation, I’ll come back and we’ll make sure to address all of your questions. Thanks so much.

>> SIMON: All right. Thank you, Amber, for that generous introduction. I’m really honored to be here with you all. I’ve been a lurker in this space for a while and then started sharing a bit more. It’s really exciting for me to get to chat with you all today about empathy and how we can learn about that and employ it to help adopt accessibility into our organizations and with our clients.

Just a couple things as we get started. If you want to have a local copy of these Google slides to follow along with, they’re available publicly. If Paula or Amber, if you wouldn’t mind putting them in the chat again, just so people can click on them if they want to. The other thing is I am low vision. I have a big monitor right here, which you may be able to see. If I’m looking at that, I promise I’m not being antisocial or giving you the side eye or anything. It’s just it’s nice to be able to use the vision I have to be able to follow along with the slides. With that, we can get going.

After Amber’s introduction, I really don’t need to say too much more about me. I am a– Just to describe myself. I’m a guy in my late 40s, a white male with mostly dark hair, but some salt and pepper in it, smiling in this picture with a green sweater on in front of a brick background. Besides the credentials and other things Amber shared, I will say that in addition to founding Pedal Point Solutions, I also still have a full-time job as a website architect at an e-commerce company. Right now I’m in the unique position of having both the opportunity to share accessibility strategies and techniques and how to onboard people to that process in a formal organization as well as with my own clients.

Just a little bit of an agenda for this evening. I want to start out with talking about what empathy means in the context of accessibility advocacy, and then we’re going to switch and talk about Eureka experiences and what those are and how they can help with empathy. Then we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about how to inject accessibility into what’s already happening in an organization. Then we’ll wrap up with some empathetic strategies that I found useful in my travels.

Just so we’re honest here, this is not something that I’ve done for my entire career. I’m on a journey here. I’ve collected a lot of neat resources and tried a bunch of things, but I’m still becoming in this area a lot. I’m eager for your questions and conversations along the way. Please do use that Q&A feature if you have thoughts, comments, or questions. The other thing I’ll just say is this presentation will be a little bit interactive with the hopes of maximizing your engagement and enjoyment.

Empathy in accessibility advocacy. I’m wondering if any of you here on the chat can give me a good definition of what empathy might be. If you are willing, would you mind posting in the chat what you think of when you think of the word empathy? Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Yes, Amber. You’ve looked at my slides already, and I trust you didn’t copy and paste that. Connecting. Wow, you guys are all good. Able to relate with a person. Amber’s faster than you are. Yes. Awesome. Thinking about how and why someone does or says something. Yes, that’s great. Relating to feelings and situations. Perfect. That’s great, folks. Yes.

Oxford’s English Dictionary has a short definition of empathy being the ability to emotionally understand one another’s point of view, and empathy is an active process. It’s not necessarily a passive thing. You may have heard the term emotional intelligence, and that is really a practice and a skill based on empathy. Being able to understand and appreciate what someone else sees, hears, experiences, feels, whatnot. Like Amber said, putting yourself in their shoes. Empathy is a really great- I won’t say tool, a great ideal to have along with accessibility, because it works to foster solidarity and connection, which I really think we need in order to make accessibility work well in our various contexts. It enables us to exchange the mindset which we all too easily fall into of us versus them to one that’s more of we or all of us together.

This is a little diagram that I based on one that Kate O’Connor presented last week in an IAAP networking session. Not sure if any of you got to go to that, but she had a really good summary of different approaches for accessibility advocacy, and I put them on a spectrum here. On the one end, you’ve got approaches that are more altruistic. On the other hand, you might think of the approaches as more self-serving or self-preserving. But in any case, there are four columns here above this colorful spectrum.

On the far left, you’ve got the moral and ethical base for accessibility, which basically is saying creating accessible digital experiences is the right thing to do. Then next to that, you’ve got a user experience approach you can take to accessibility, which is based on the fact that accessible digital experiences are better for everybody. These are all well documented and data-driven conclusions. I’m just not making these up. You’ve probably heard that there are 1.3 billion people in the world with significant disabilities. This is a real thing. Business-wise, the case for accessibility is strong for the business purposes of growing revenue, market share, and brand reputation. Then finally, as we get to the end of the spectrum, you’ve got the legal case for accessibility, which is based on accessibility being the law and accessible digital experiences that are accessible, comply with laws, and reduce the risk of litigation.

Honestly, in thinking about these, I began my very hopeful and a little bit naive journey on the far left of this spectrum, thinking that accessibility is the right thing to do. Most people want to help, and it’s just an awareness thing. Yes. I went around and I’m encouraging folks, and that’s great. It’s making some traction, at least in conversations. One day, I received an email from a vendor of an overlay solution. If you don’t know what an overlay is, it is an accessibility toolbar or kit that can be superimposed over a website to offer various controls to help users browse and navigate the website with various helps, like bigger text or color contrast.

Now overlays are the subject of a lot of debates, and rightly so, because many overlay companies have marketed their solutions as a one-stop soup to nuts solution for accessibility, and that’s just not the case. When I received the message from the overlay vendor, I was immediately a little bit skeptical, because this particular vendor does make claims like that that are a bit inflated. In the email, the vendor said that they were concerned about my website having an accessibility issue that could lead to legal problems, and they had put a screenshot of the website’s home page annotated with a circle around an element they said wasn’t accessible.

I was just a little miffed by this, because they were using fear-mongering to try and sell me their product. What did I do? I went to their home page. I found an accessibility issue with their footer. It was like a sign-up form for their newsletter. I took a screenshot of that, annotated it, and said, well, you have an accessibility problem right here, and I sent that back to the vendor. Now, like a good sales engineer, the sender called me and said, hey, can we have a conversation about this? So we did.

I was just like, dude, it’s just kind of underhanded to me that you would do this, because we do care about accessibility at my organization and we’re working towards it, and if you’ve been in the space, it’s a moving target. Things change. Website standards update. Content is always in flux. Why do you want to say that? Why do you want to lean on the legal part? He told me that in their experience, it’s great to talk about the moral, and ethical, and user experience and even business positive ramifications for accessibility, but his company found that to really move the needle with accessibility, they needed to use the legal approach and that people responded better to a stick than a carrot.

We agreed to disagree on that a little bit, but it did temper my thinking so that I was- I realized that, okay, you know what? We don’t have to inhabit just one spot on this spectrum. All four of these approaches to accessibility advocacy are valid and have their place. In fact, we can inject empathy into each of these approaches, because at the end of the day, somebody you know or somebody you love or eventually you yourself will need an accessible digital experience. We are all in the process of growing older, and with that just comes wisdom and perspective and glitches in these wonderful bodies of ours which make us really glad to have more accessible tools.

Morally and ethically speaking, accessible digital experiences are the right thing to do for you and your loved one. Regarding user experiences, an accessible website is better for you and your loved one, because you can use it and both you and your loved one will probably frequent and support businesses who have digital experiences that are accessible. Legally, you and your loved one probably don’t want to be the ones to have to file and pursue a lawsuit just to be included. That does not sound like a fun thing to me.

>> STEVE JONES: This episode of Accessibility Craft is sponsored by Equalize Digital Accessibility Checker, the WordPress plugin that helps you find accessibility problems before you hit publish. 1000s of businesses, non-profits, universities, and government agencies around the world trust Accessibility Checker to help their teams find, fix, and prevent accessibility problems on an ongoing basis. 

New to accessibility? Equalize Digital Accessibility Checker is here to teach you every step of the way. Whether you are a content creator or a developer, our detailed documentation guide you through fixing accessibility issues.

Never lose track of accessibility again with real-time scans each time you save, powerful reports inside the WordPress dashboard, and a front-end view to help you track down hard-to-find issues. 

Scan unlimited posts and pages with Accessibility Checker free. Upgrade to Accessibility Checker Pro to scan your website in bulk, whether it has 10 pages or 10,000.

Download Accessibility Checker today at equalizedigital.com/accessibility-checker. Use coupon code accessibilitycraft to save 10% on any plan.

>> SIMON: At the end of the day, empathy and accessibility I think is realizing that disability and accessibility are about all of us. This is actually a really good thing. In our English language, the word disability often has a negative connotation to it. But in fact, the Latin root DIS literally means entwain or into, which is the idea of moving in different directions, which is not a negative idea at all, because from DIS, we make our words discern. Now, I’m thinking of other– Yes. Discern, and dissect, and all kinds of things that like disability, start with that prefix. Disability can actually just be thought of, abilities in different directions.

We all experience this every day regardless of our level of ability whenever we put on glasses, or use curb cuts, or listen to audio books, or any other inventions that were invented by or for people with disabilities. My point is that there is a great deal of empathy in all of these approaches. They do need– I still feel like, the more valiant way to do accessibility is because it’s the right thing to do, but I recognize that the law is there for a purpose and people fought really hard for the ADA and its enforcement, which happily we’re seeing now in the laws in the EU and all around the world.

We’re seeing these come into focus more and more. I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about eureka experiences, what I’m calling. Eureka is actually a word with a Greek origin. It means a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something- usually something spectacular or that they’ve longed for or been seeking heartily. One story credits the word to Archimedes who was a Greek mathematician. When he stepped into his bath one day he exclaimed, “Eureka,” because he, having a mathematical mind, realized that when he got into the bath it displaced some water, and he came to the point that that was because of his body getting in and that the water his body displaced was equal to the volume of the body that was displacing it. That led to all kinds of cool mathematical theorems and such.

On the right hand side of the slide here, we have a 16th century picture of Archimedes in his barrel tub, just enjoying that realization, and basically having a grand old time. Splish-splash, he was taking a bath, right? In the US, we often think of California when the word eureka comes up. It’s actually the California state motto, and it originated there with the discovery of gold near Sutter’s Mill in 1848. I’m curious, based on that, have any of you had eureka experiences in your life where you all of a sudden got something after either not understanding it or it came to light for you, but you had an ‘Aha’ moment? I’m wondering if you would post that in the chat if you would.

I can start. I am a piano player and I really enjoy music. But when I was young, because of my blindness, I had a very difficult time sight reading music from a distance. I had to lean over the keyboard, which really wasn’t pragmatic as the music got more advanced. I learned to play by ear growing up, and throughout middle school and high school, I learned a bunch of different concepts and mechanisms that worked for composition and improvisational stuff, chord progressions and things. But I really didn’t understand why until I got to college and took a music theory class.

That music theory class was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, because it gave me the ability to articulate a language that I already knew in my head. I understood why some chords worked together, why some harmonies worked and others didn’t. It just caused me to flourish in terms of my ability to talk about music and to make it even better. That was eureka experiences.

I’m seeing, Lori says, “I have had many learning music as well.” That’s great. You’re a guitar player. We should jam sometime. Ricky says that many eureka moments, figuring out accessibility issues, even just understanding the WCAG. That is a eureka experience. There is a lot to the WCAG, and it’s not an easy thing to digest. I’m going to talk about that a little bit as well. Thanks for those answers, but now let’s talk- let’s focus in on how eureka can lead to empathy.

Essentially, what I’ve tried to do the past several years in my conversations about accessibility with people who may be new to it is, design events or experiences that help them realize and appreciate another person’s life and circumstances and experiences. I want to give people a taste of what living with a disability might be like. I don’t think you can really help them understand fully what that’s like, however, it is possible to create more immersive experiences that foster appreciation and empathy. I find that if these are hands-on or interactive, the experiences can be more effective.

I’ll tell you a story about one ride-sharing trip I took. I use Uber and Lyft a lot, because I don’t drive due to my vision. One day, my Lyft driver came to my home to bring me to my office. Like a lot of drivers, she wanted to chit-chat, and we talked about how she was doing, the weather, and she asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a software engineer. Typically, the conversation will stay sort of surface-y there, but she was interested in knowing more and asked me what kind of software work I did.

I began talking with her about accessibility, and her interest was really piqued. She wanted to know what that was, because she had never really heard or thought about people with disabilities using the web or in particular, her website. She’s a realtor, and as such, wanted to make sure everyone could use her website or was concerned about that, because she hadn’t thought of it before. We began talking about the principles of being able to perceive and operate and understand what’s going on on your website, that it should be robust. Eventually, she kept asking enough questions that I pulled out my phone and fired up my mobile screen reader on her website. By the time we reached my destination, she asked if we could continue this conversation.

This was probably one of the easiest client conversions I’ve ever had. I think it was wonderful, because later that week, we met over Zoom and talked more about accessibility and I was able to show her firsthand using a tool. I’ll demonstrate in a little bit what it might be like for someone who’s blind to use her website. That relationship continues to this day. Experiences like that don’t come along every day, but when they do, they sure are appreciated.

At this point, I just want to take some time to discuss some tools that can be used to build empathy for disabilities. There are a lot of these around, and the most simple and central one that we all use or most of us use is a keyboard. Most of us, however, use both a keyboard and a mouse. The keyboard for typing and the mouse for most everything else. But as you may know, most modern computer systems are hopefully designed so that most or all of their functionality can be carried out with only the keyboard, and many people don’t know this.

Last week, I was talking with the head of accessibility at Pegasystems. Her name is Jill Power. She told me about a game or a challenge she’s done called the Put Your Mouse Down Challenge. I was so inspired by that that I actually want to do that with you guys now. In the name of generating empathy, I’m wondering if you would join me in a game. What I would like you to do right now is put your mouse away or off to the side, and using only your keyboard, open or navigate to your favorite email clients. Compose a new email, send it to me, and my email address I will type in the chat, is Simon, S-I-M-O-N, at Pedal Point dot com. Attach an image or whatever to it, just using the keyboard, and send it. Once I receive your email, I will send you a free gift.

If you’re willing to do that– I have a nice timer here, and I want to give us three minutes. You are welcome to use your phones or whatever to look up ways to do keyboard shortcuts or whatnot.

>> AMBER: How to leave Zoom. [laughs]

>> SIMON: Yes, you can leave Zoom. Definitely.

>> AMBER: Well, as I was saying, we don’t know how to leave Zoom with our keyboard, right?

>> SIMON: Right. Yes, yes, yes. That’s true. One hint I can tell you is that on Macs, if you hold down the command key and hit shift- I’m sorry, tab, it will cycle through your open applications. Most applications that you are in allow you to hold down command shift and press question mark to open a searchable help menu that will also enable you to navigate through the file edit and whatnot menus that are usually present at the top of the screen. My email is S-I-M-O-N at Pedal Point, P-E-D-A-L, dot com.


All right. I can hear those keys clacking.

>> AMBER: Simon, I have a keyboard trap in Google Flies. I can’t get out of it.

>> SIMON: Oh, no. That’s not good. Is that just for my presentation or is that Google Slides in general?

>> AMBER: Well, I had my slides up, so it thinks I want to edit my slides, but I can’t even get past the one slide. It’s just cycling through all the different [inaudible].

>> SIMON: [laughs] All right. About one minute left, guys. You’re doing great. I know you are.


Coming down. I haven’t checked my email yet. I’m not going to until later just because I don’t want you to lose this wonderful elevator music or get trapped in my own keyboard trap.


You made it to Outlook and to the new email icon [inaudible] No. Oh, no. All right. Well, we’ll leave this as an exercise for you to finish in the future, if you so desire. Amber, do you want to go ahead and do the poll you had in mind?

>> AMBER: Yes. This is our extra fun. Can you answer this poll question with the keyboard only?

[pause ]

>> AMBER: We’ve got a few answers coming in. Can you see these, Simon?

>> SIMON: I can’t see the answers, no.

>> AMBER: Okay. Yes. I’ll end it in just a couple minutes. It looks like we’ve got 13 out of 30 people have figured out how to answer it with their keyboard only. [chuckles]

>> SIMON: Nice job, folks.

>> AMBER: I’ll give people a couple more minutes and then we’ll turn it off so that you can read out the results.

>> SIMON: I don’t know. Attaching is a tricky one there. The help menu is crazy, because in Outlook, anyway, there’s all kinds of different attaching options when you want to browse your computer or whatever.

>> AMBER: I think if we had any screen reader users on this webinar, they have bested us all.

>> SIMON: Yes. Most likely.

>> AMBER: Oh. Someone says the submit button doesn’t work in the poll with the keyboard only.


>> SIMON: Oh, dear. [inaudible] [laughs] Oh, no.

>> AMBER: [inaudible] All right. I’ll go ahead and end the poll. If anyone wants to answer it with their mouse, feel free. I’m going to give you about 15 seconds and then I’m going to end it. Oh, Ricky said submit button on the poll works with the spacebar.

>> SIMON: Oh, good job. Okay.


>> AMBER: All right. There’s our results, if you want, and I’ll go back on mute.

>> SIMON: Yes. That’s what I expected. There’s actually more yeses here than I would have thought, but–

>> AMBER: Yes. Do you want to read the numbers just for people in case they can’t get these?

>> SIMON: Sure. For yeses, we have 5 out of 16, which is a whopping 31%. No responses were 11 out of 16 or 69%. Well done, folks. No shame here. No problem. This was not a test to see how keyboard savvy you are. This was an exercise in empathy. Because if you struggled with that or even if you didn’t, you now have a little bit of an idea of what it might be like to not be able to use a mouse. A lot of people cannot do that or choose not to do that. Thank you for participating and much appreciated.

Other tools that can build empathy are a screen reader. If you want to take this up one notch, you could just use your keyboard, turn off your monitor and turn off your screen, and then turn on your screen reader, whichever one you may have on your computer. That can be a bit intense, because I’ve found a lot of people get a little nervous with the screen reader that starts talking to them and they don’t know how to turn it off, especially if you’re in a room where other people are sitting around you.

I have a little bit of a middle ground for that that, and I’m going to show you in a minute. But there are also various simulators, and websites, and browser extensions that help with this. No Coffee is a Firefox extension. It used to be on Chrome. I’m not sure where it went. But this will simulate various types of color blindness. You can check a box to simulate red-green color blindness, and the colors on the page you’re on will update so that they look similar to what someone with red-green color blindness might experience. Dyslexia simulators are a fun one.

I’m going to show you one thing here. There’s a browser extension that does this, but this page, if you’re feeling a little wheezy because the letters are moving around, that’s intentional. There’s JavaScript and CSS on this page that simulate what dyslexia might feel like to a person. Even if you just look at the header, which should say dyslexia, the E and the S might move around. Dyslexia-y. That’s one example.

Then if you really want to have a laugh, Jen Harris posted on the WP Alley Facebook group a couple weeks ago this website called User In Your Face. It’s an experiment in anti-patterns and worst practices for UI. It’s kind of gamified, but don’t be surprised if you get frustrated with it. I’ll leave that as an exercise that you can try at home after this if you want a laugh or you feel like throwing your monitor across the room. Both may be good options.

Then usability groups and labs are also very good empathy-building tools, because if you or someone you know can actually see someone using your product, your software, your website, and that person has a disability, you’re going to get first-hand insights into what they can and cannot do with your solution. Those are obviously more complicated and expensive to put on, but they can be pretty valuable.

I just want to show you real quickly a Chrome extension that I had a chance to write and released a couple of Global Accessibility Awareness Days ago. It’s an extension called Site Unseen. S-I-T-E Unseen. If you’re interested in grabbing this yourself, you can go to siteunseen.dev, S-I-T-E-U-N-S-E-E-N dot dev. I’ll post that in the chat if you want. There’s just a big button on the page. If you follow it, you’ll go to the Chrome web store and you can install it. When it’s active, you’ll see the icon for the extension in your toolbar, which is this little blue stick figure guy with a white cane walking in front of a globe. I will go to one of the most accessible websites I know, equalizedigital.com, and we’ll see how this works there.

I’m going to tap on my little friend, Site Unseen friend here. What you’ll see, if you’re watching my browser, the whole screen just went black. Now, nothing has disappeared, but there’s an opaque overlay obscuring the contents of the webpage. At the bottom right section of the page, there’s a box of text outlined in a white border that contains the parsable text or programmatically recognizable text that the browser can recognize from the elements under keyboard focus. Right now, it’s at that we’re at the very beginning of the page on the title, and we’re seeing the page title, which is Equalize Digital Website Accessibility Audits, Remediation, and Consulting.

There are a number of controls you can use to navigate this page. Because this is a browser, the tab key works as expected, navigating you through interactive controls. If I hit tab, you may see now that it says link, skip to main content, which is great, because Equalize Digital has a skip link to bypass the navigation. You can also use the arrow keys, left and right, to move back and forth between the elements on the page, much like you might do with a screen reader.

Now, if you happen to get lost, there is a peek button, P-E-E-K, at the top right, which, if you click it, will reveal the website for the webpage for just a few seconds. You can get your bearings, because on websites that have good focus state, visible focus state, you can tell where you are. There’s also a bunch of other commands that you can use in Site Unseen by clicking the help button or by pressing question mark.

I just popped up the keyboard commands, we can see that the left and right arrows allow you to proceed to the next or previous element. Tab and shift-tab work like they do in the browser, moving between interactive elements. Enter, up, down arrows, and space bar work as they do normally in the browser, just select items in a navigable menu or HTML- native HTML control. Then there are a bunch of shortcuts that many screen readers have.

Lowercase h and capital H will allow you to advance or backtrack to the next or previous heading, respectively. K and k do the same thing with the next and previous links. L and l- l and a capital L with lists. Lowercase and capital F with form fields. Lowercase b and capital B with buttons. I and i with images. Then landmarks as well with r and capital R. I’m having to move my zoom controls around to see these. If I close the help and hit the H key here, now I’m on a heading level one, which says, become accessible and improve your bottom line, which if I look at the screen or peek at the screen, that’s what we’re on now. They’re main- Equalized Digital’s main headings.

If you’re interested, I encourage you to check this extension out. You can download it, try it out. It’s definitely not a replacement for actual accessibility testing software techniques. It’s more of an empathy building tool. As I mentioned, I use this tool to show my Lyft driver clients her website, and it was very eye-opening for her. No pun intended. That’s Site Unseen, and– Let’s see. Can you all see my slides again? They haven’t quite maximized, but I’m okay with that if you are.

>> AMBER: Yes, we can see them.

>> SIMON: Okay. I’m going to continue on. Another way to build empathy, I found, is just expanding people’s definition of what disabilities are all about. This slide, I’ve called it highlighting different types of disability. When I say types, I don’t really mean disabilities for various senses like sight, hearing, and touch. When most people think of- many people think of disabilities, the first thing that may come to mind are assistive technologies that are used like a white cane or a wheelchair. Those definitely are used by people with disabilities, but they’re often associated with permanent disabilities, which usually are fairly long-lasting for those who live with them. However, I like to tell people that there are also temporary disabilities.

If you happen to get cataracts, or break your arm, or have some other illness or injury, your mobility or sight will be impaired for some period of time. That’s important to know, because during that time, you will really benefit from accessible digital experiences. Even more than that, there are situational disabilities. I love talking about these, because everybody experiences some of these every day.

Whenever you’re looking at your phone in a sunny day and the text is washed out because it’s really bright, that’s situational disability. If you’re in a crowded room speaking and listening to someone and you have to filter out the background noise, that’s a situational disability for hearing. If you’re holding something in one hand like a new baby, or any kind of thing, or using one hand for something and only have one hand to operate your mobile device, you’re going to be pretty glad if you can use the app on that device with one hand. That is a situational disability for touch. If you’re in another country where you don’t speak their language and you’re communicating through heavy accents, that could be a speech-related situational disability. We all encounter these and we all benefit from accessible technology when we do.

This chart I’m showing on the slide here originated from Microsoft’s inclusive design project. It’s fairly well known these days, but it basically just has stick figures in a grid laid out for situational, temporary, and permanent disabilities for the rows, and the columns are different senses like see, hear, touch, and speech. That chart does a good job with some of our physical senses. However, there are also situational disabilities for neurodiversities. We can think of some permanent neurodiverse conditions like autism or ADHD, nut I’m wondering if you can think of any situational neurodiversities that you’ve probably experienced today. If you can think of any of those, I invite you to put them in the chat now.


>> SIMON: You may be experiencing them at this exact moment. A migraine, yes. Tiredness, yes. Distractions to you’re being, yes. [laughs] All right. Frustration, yes. Lack of coffee, good. Good, good, good. My brother came up with a really good one when I showed him this. He said multitasking. That is huge, but yet an embarrassment. Yes, you guys are great. Misplaced eyeglasses, right. Yes. Every day we are faced with a myriad of situations that will cause our attention and our ability to focus to be challenged. Fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion, stress, anxiety, feeling frustrated, hungry, angry, or thirsty, multitasking. All these things are experienced by everybody at some point or another. They are– [chuckles] She is very cute. They are common to all of us.

Going back to Jen Harris again, she has this site called Easy A11Y Guides. Right now she’s putting out a series of videos about how to do quick, various topics of running an accessibility agency or doing accessible audits and stuff. There’s one about how to sell accessibility to new builds and website remodeling, remodel clients or people who are redesigning this site. She said that she asked a question of her clients. It’s a very simple one, but it’s, do you want people to be able to use your website on their phones? Of course, everybody’s going to answer yes to that, because most of the- well, most e-commerce transactions anyway and probably most traffic is conducted over a mobile device these days. Answering yes actually means you’re green to good color contrast and legible font sizes, because when you use your phone outside in the bright sunshine, your text gets washed out.

That’s a really good way, when you’re talking with a client, to broach the subject of accessibility and how it applies to all of us. Thank you for your participation in that activity. All right. I wanted to– I’ll speed up here, because we’re running a little short on time, talk about how to inject accessibility into stuff that’s already happening at your organization. When we’re advocating for something, it’s easy- I found it’s very easy for me to want to get on my soapbox, take up my bullhorn and say, this needs to happen now. Sometimes that’s very appropriate. But often, as the saying goes, the idiom goes, “We catch more flies than honey than vinegar.” Not that our clients are flies, but it may be more effective to try and fit into what is already going on rather than trying to change everything all at once.

That’s all about understanding the culture of the organization or the client you are working with. When you’re able to align with the culture and go with its grain instead of against it, it really speeds things up. There was a panel about this very topic at Axe-Con 2024, and one of the panelists had this great quote which is, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s very, very true. Regardless of what you’re trying to do, if your culture isn’t- if it’s going against the culture, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve. Some ways to look for an organization’s culture are to look at the mission statements.

If you see words like customer, clients, delivers, everyone, things like that, those are keys that can be used to open conversations about accessibility. You need to consider what the organization values, be it profit or impact. Do they thrive on data or being the best? Understanding those values and what makes that organization tick can show you how to position accessibility in a light that will show it to further- to pour into their values as opposed to taking away from them.

All organizations have in place processes for onboarding, training, marketing, et cetera, and accessibility can be injected into these. For example, at my company, we have an established process for sending out email campaigns to customers. The process involves the design getting vetted and being converted from a bunch of- a set of images to HTML that contain those images. For a long time, that HTML was a set of tables that were used for layout. We still do need to use layout tables for layout and emails, in case you didn’t know, it’s kind of archaic, but different email clients have limitations that make CSS not entirely reliable. Anyway, if you’ve ever tried to navigate a table that’s used for layout with a screen reader, it’s annoying, because it’s going to tell you how many rows and columns are in that table. A screen reader expects a table to contain data, but we can add a role to that table that says it’s presentational. By doing that in this process of prepping email campaigns, we were able to make that piece of the email that every customer received more accessible.

Looking at an organization’s priorities, goals, and projects are a great way to find themes or spaces to talk about and inject accessibility. Particularly if you hear about new initiatives or redesigns or upgrades, those are really good places to look for opportunities. There are a lot of stories I can tell about this. I’m going to skip those for time, but the basic premise here is to ask questions to understand the barriers that might be there and invite commitment and ownership, because everybody likes to have their own ideas and act on those. When you’re asking questions as opposed to making recommendations, and those questions lead people to think about accessibility, their stake in the answer they come up with is deeper than if they just were responding like, okay, I’ll do what you tell me or you suggest. But if they come up with a plan, they’ve got some skin in the game, and that is a great thing.

Here’s a mind hack that has actually changed my life. Whenever you use the word but, B-U-T, I encourage you to try replacing it with the word ‘and.’ Just a little bit of a conjunction switch there. The word but can actually feel dismissive and invalidating of the previous statement. For instance, if I’m advocating accessibility and I say something like, “I know we need to increase revenue, but accessibility is the law.” You’re putting the person you’re talking to in a tough situation because their priority may be the increasing revenue part, and you’re de-prioritizing what’s most important to them with that little word “but”. However, if you change to using “and”, that can validate both ideas that are on either side of the conjunction. It actually allows more than one truth to exist, more than one thing to be true at the same time. I can say, “Our budget is limited, and we need to make accessibility a priority.” That’s interesting because it didn’t invalidate either one of those statements, but rather encouraged people in the conversation to cultivate the ability to hold opposing perspectives in tension. That’s something that we need to practice because it goes against the black and white nature that we learn as kids. Most of life is really more of a spectrum than an on and off switch, right? When we can hold ideas like that in tension, we can consider how to solve for both, and not just have a yes/no answer but certify a third path.

When you know your audience and you’re able to use “and”, you endorse their needs and their concerns without invalidating or throwing out your own, and it just makes way possible conversations for all the ideas. Thank you for that typo call out. I will look at that. [chuckles]

Now, one thing I found that’s really useful is if you’re able to build a network of accessibility champions. These are people who are already empathetic towards accessibility, or are learning to be. As a developer, I’ve looked around in my organization to my colleagues in my own software engineering and web developer departments, but I’ve also looked at DevOps, and IT designers in user interface, customer service, digital marketing, content creation, legal, and even human resources and DEI. All these departments can have key contributions to make to accessibility.

There was one woman that I met in our customer service department. Anytime someone had an issue related to not being able to see or understand how our website works, she would get that call. The reason was that she was a screen reader ninja. A lot of the folks who were having trouble navigating our site were using screen readers. I reached out to her and it turned out that she knew this stuff backward and forward because her brother was blind.

We began chatting and I encouraged my teammates, and did this myself, to send– Anytime we were pushing out a web accessibility feature or fix to our production website, we would ask her to test it first with a screen reader, because she knew how to do it hands down, multiple different ones, JAWS, NVIDIA, Narrator. I think she had a TalkBack on Android as well. It was great to have that.

If you can find leaders and decision makers to be these accessibility champion allies, that’s even better because they’re the ones who will have authority to make choices. Regardless, it’s great if you can meet regularly to discuss how to advocate, educate, and integrate accessibility into projects and whatnot, because it’s easy to feel alone when you’re doing accessibility. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes it can seem like it’s thankless.

With that, I just want to wrap up with a few strategies for keeping empathy at the forefront when you are discussing and advocating for accessibility. If you attended Axe-Con 2024, there was a guy named Jonah Berger who gave a keynote. If you didn’t, you can still watch the video. His video, it’s great. This guy wrote a book called The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind, where he talked about reasons people are reluctant to change, and methods that we can use to help them see different perspectives.

One of them was to provide a menu. What that meant is instead of a single option like, “We need to make our website accessible,” which may cause the stakeholder being spoken to to feel pushed or pressured to make a yes/no decision, and that can lead to a negative response. Instead of that, why not think about giving multiple options and letting them choose? So you’d say, for instance, “Do we want to review our designs for accessibility, do we want to test for accessibility using QA, or do we want to have our customers and end users alert us to accessibility problems?”

All of those are answers that may happen in real life. When you give the stakeholders the ability to choose one, there’s a sense of agency that is granted there as opposed to just feeling pressured. Again, just like the listening, it invites ownership and participation. They may choose the option that you’re not really the most enthused about, but at least they’ll understand that option and have some ownership in it, and they’ll think about it as opposed to just responding yay or nay.

Last week, the week before last, there was a presentation given on IAP by Michelle Jacques. She talked about scaling accessibility starting with hearts and minds. She had this one piece of advice that’s just golden. Do one thing, because progress beats perfection every time. Small incremental steps can make a huge difference over the long term. If you turn one degree, or make a one degree change in 500 miles, you’re going to be in a vastly different place than where you are now.

When you are advocating for accessibility, there’s a lot to talk about. There are so many things like standards and success criteria in the WCAG that it can be overwhelming. When you are working with folks who are newer to accessibility, whether it’s in a training or feedback session, maybe brainstorming, it may be good to end that time together with just an exhortation to just, “All right. There’s a lot of information here. Let’s just do one thing.”

A couple weeks ago, I had a training set up with an external vendor at my company. It was a live consultation to people who were– Some were very familiar with accessibility, and some were just hearing about it for the first time. He had a broad audience to cover. What did he cover? Because he talked about WCAG, and screen readers, and assistive technology, and laws. It was just a lot for those who haven’t earned their CPAC certification or something like that.

When we ended, I just said, “Okay, there’s a lot of information here. We may feel overwhelmed, but if we can find just one thing that aligns with our work, and the things we do every day, that’s enough, because if everybody just does one thing, we’re going to make progress, and it will fuel the momentum for efforts in accessibility, and people will start to understand and appreciate it more.”

Finally, I just want to encourage you that progress in accessibility, in my experience, takes time, and so it requires persistence and patience. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s normal. I get frustrated sometimes. One organization I was working with, they unfortunately got into accessibility because they received a demand letter. I don’t know if it was legitimate or from a bounty hunter, but it basically said, “I can’t use your website. I’m taking you to court unless you settle with me for X amount of dollars.” The company ended up doing just that.

Afterwards, they came to me for advice on how to prevent this from happening again. We talked about implementing, all tags, and good color contrasts and stuff. I suggested an accessibility statement was a really good way to show your commitment to this journey. They got very, very nervous about the accessibility statement. They felt like if they put any verbiage on their site saying that, that other people might see it and say, “Oh, we can get them in another lawsuit.”

It took me a long time to articulate in a way that was effective to them that an accessibility statement is not so much a guarantee that your website is accessible, but that it’s a commitment toward that. After three years of going back and forth, and back and forth, and getting external experts to say the same thing, and to draft accessibility statements, we went through a few of those and they were picked apart.

I even got a comment that said– Well, one time that was like, “Well, do we really want to be the first company in our space to do this, take this step out there?” and I’m like, “Yes, of course, you want to be the first company in your space to do this. You’re taking a stand for a good thing, and it’s actually going to reduce your legal risk because you’ll give people a way to contact you rather than sue you.

Eventually, we were able to come to an agreement. After that three-year process, earlier this year, we published an accessibility statement. I got to say, of all the things I’ve done with that company this year, that is the most fulfilling thing, this little tiny accessibility statement, because I’ve worked so hard for it.

When you’re making inroads and advocacy efforts, we need to remember that relationships and trust grow on the scale of weeks, months, and even years, and it’s the people who are making the decisions. If you encounter someone who is instantly responsive to accessibility like my friendly neighborhood Lyft driver, chances are some other people or circumstances have already been nurturing that effort for some time.

What I find is to remember how long it took me to become an advocate for accessibility. It wasn’t overnight. I’m legally blind for, I don’t know, 10 years of my web development journey. I really didn’t give it any thought because I could see well enough. I could get around with the mouse, and it showed me that– The eureka experiences that we talked about earlier can be a long time in the making, and so we’re all people, we’re all human. As long as we’re moving in the right direction, I think we’ll get there more often than not.

That’s what I have to share with you. Thank you so much for your attention. I think we have a little bit of time for questions. I went a little longer than I anticipated, but much appreciated.

>> AMBER: That was great. Thank you so much, Simon. I especially love when we get to have some interactive presentations, so it’s wonderful. Let’s see. Amy had a question, and I have a follow-up question too, but I’ll start with Amy’s question. Amy says she does a lot of disability empathy activities and workshops for college instructors, including a keyboard-only challenge. Amy often struggles with how to use these experiences without implying that because now they’ve done these activities, the able-bodied participants fully “get what it’s like to be disabled”. Do you have any suggestions or validations?

>> SIMON: Yes. Well, yes. I want to validate what you’re doing, definitely. If you know somebody who has a lived disability and they’re willing to be part of those conversations, I think that could just be really effective in terms of saying, “Okay, this is an approximation what you’re doing.” It’s not, however, the same experience. If you can involve people with disabilities, that’s all the more. If you have people who come to you and say that, up the challenge. Tell them to turn off their screen and use a screen reader or whatever. That’s an option too.

Regardless, I think I don’t know. It seems naive to think if you can use a keyboard, then you totally understand what it’s like to live with a disability. Amber, did you have a thought about that?

>> AMBER: Yes. Well, I mean, I was actually going to ask a question along this line, because we have had some conversations with sponsors, some WordCamps. A lot of times, people who attend WordCamps, if they don’t already work for a really big company, they may have never heard of accessibility, and so we have talked about ideas like the Inclusive Bill that your thing is built based upon, your browser extension, which I love that browser extension.

We’ve thought about, “What if we set up a couple of computers and just add that up, right?” so people could go through the Inclusive Bill challenge, because it has specific tasks you’re supposed to complete without seeing the screen. Then we’ve talked about the challenges there of– There’s also sometimes pushback from people with disabilities that it’s ableist to create these kinds of empathy lab experiences. We’ve never actually ended up doing that, but I’ve wondered, and I’m curious, what your thoughts are on that.

>> SIMON: Yes. I find wording is key. You need to be careful with words like “understand”, or “fully experience”, or whatever because you won’t. I try to use terms like “approximate” or “appreciate”. That can help because sometimes when a disability is part of our identity– I’ve experienced this myself– we get attached to that and almost proud of it in a way, because it gives us a source of strength to just say– Whether it’s to vent frustration or just be our own person, that’s great.

At the same time, we as these people with disabilities have as much responsibility as those who don’t, may not have disabilities to work to connect, so that we can share our experiences in a way that will be helpful for others to implement accessibility and stuff. It’s a give and take, but I definitely hear what you’re saying. I’ve actually gotten comments about that with Sight Unseen, and I did change some of my language about it as a result. That’s what I’ve seen, but I would encourage you to keep exploring that because despite the–

There are naysayers, but I mean, as someone with a disability, I’m going to give you the benefit of doubt if you’re trying. You’re aware and you’re active, and it’s awkward. People are going to make mistakes. They’re not going to know if I like person-first language or identity-first language. Just ask me. It’s okay. Part of that is empathy building, right? You’re building trust in a relationship enough that we can have those clumsy discussions for a while, and we’re okay with that.

>> AMBER: Yes. Yes, I really appreciate that, and thinking about the words and how we can use that. I think Amy said the same thing. Amy is actually disabled, which is part of why they struggle here, but they like the word “approximate”. We’ll try and use that instead of “understand”. I think you’re right. There’s different language where we can say. We’re giving you an experience of. You’re not really understanding what it’s like to live with a certain disability.

>> SIMON: Right.

>> AMBER: Yes, definitely.

>> SIMON: Language is tricky. I mean, like there are words like “simulate” and “emulate”. Maybe, maybe not. It depends on who you’re talking to. “Approximate”, “appreciate” is a good one, because you’re not claiming any understanding or first-hand knowledge there. You’re just saying, “Oh, that’s something that I should be aware of.”

>> AMBER: Yes. Kevin also had a good point. Kevin is a disabled practitioner, and said, “If you involve people with disabilities, do compensate them for their time if they give feedback or input about the product or website.”

>> SIMON: Definitely, most definitely.

>> AMBER: Yes, we feel pretty strongly about that as well. I think there’s a few people in the WordPress community who have disabilities, and they often get asked to test things for free all the time.

>> SIMON: Yes. Unfortunately, that’s the way it can be. I think there’s probably a balance to that, because you want to advance the cause, and you don’t want to be taken advantage of. That line can be tricky to find sometimes.

>> AMBER: Yes. Let’s see. Vanessa had a question. What do you say to companies who don’t have the budget to do this, or who don’t really think it’s important to do something for the minority?

>> SIMON: Yes. I ran into that. I’ve run into that several times. Answers like that are typically going to come from decision makers and stakeholders, so you can use some of the techniques that I described to spread awareness around. One thing I did were lunch and learn training sessions wth just material to develop awareness. They were totally optional, but it was during COVID. A lot of people came to learn what accessibility meant and how it applied to their daily lives, so I was able to get some inroads there and find your champions.

There are people who, even if they don’t know it yet, they will get on this train because of whatever experiences they’ve had in their lives, whatever relationships they have. They have a natural empathy toward it, or a natural predisposition. If you can think about people in the various departments or teams I talked about, that’s a good way to start having conversations and listen during those conversations. Those are a few things I’d suggest. It’s hard, and it takes a lot of time.

I mean, one company I worked with, the president just wanted to write a check and be done with accessibility. That’s not how it works, unfortunately. You might be able to compare it to other things that are ongoing. Search Engine Optimization is something that you constantly have to-

>> AMBER: Most people understand.

>> SIMON: – be working on. Yes, exactly, or security, or website performance, or mobile friendliness. It’s just one of those things that is an ongoing discipline, right?

>> AMBER: Yes. I think for us, a lot of times we’re really spending a lot of time trying to figure out what are the key performance indicator, that whatever stakeholder matters most to that stakeholder. Different people at different levels of an organization are going to have different metrics that they care the most about, right?

>> SIMON: Yes.

>> AMBER: I think understanding what is their bottom line KPI, that they have to achieve with their website. Then from there, you can connect. You can almost always connect accessibility back to it, but I think the argument on the budget front, or whatever is going to be very different depending upon who the person is and what their objective is with their website.

>> SIMON: Yes. One interesting approach I heard to that was, “All right. You can share the difference in costs of finding and addressing accessibility issues either early in the process or after it’s been launched.” There have been figures like, “It’s 10 times more expensive afterwards if you wait until after things are launched.” Yes, it’s definitely a journey.

>> AMBER: Yes, okay. It looks like we have one more question, Lynn, or a comment. Lynn said, “It’s important to have this conversation continue in everyone’s ‘real life.'” We, you and I, have given everyone a great starting point. Yes. I think maybe if we’re– that’s our little call to action for the end of this webinar, right, is think about who you might need to talk to, whether it’s your clients, or if you work in-house at a university or a company, someone that’s higher up that might be a decision maker. How can you take this back to them? Then come report in the Facebook group and tell us how it went.

>> SIMON: That’s right. Exactly.

>> AMBER: Simon’s there. [laughs]

>> SIMON: Yes, I’ll love to hear that.

>> AMBER: Yes. Simon, I really appreciate this. It has been a wonderful talk and great challenge. I was one of the people who failed to be able to send you an email with my keyboard only.

>> SIMON: Oh, goodness. That’s okay.

>> AMBER: Thank you for that. Can you give us just a quick reminder where people can find you, if there’s a social media platform you’re most active on, what the website is for Pedal Point, those sorts of things?

>> SIMON: Yes, sure. Again, my name is Simon Miner. You can find me at pedalpoint.com. My email is simon@pedalpoint.com. You can find me and Pedal Point on LinkedIn mostly. We will be glad to help you learn, practice, and experience digital accessibility.

>> AMBER: Well, thanks so much. Thank you everyone. We’ll be back at the beginning of the month with our next WordPress Accessibility Meetup with Nat Croft. Until then, feel free to connect with us online if you have any questions. I’m going to just wait a few minutes before I end the webinar to make sure that our transcript catch up, and we’ll be back soon.

>> SIMON: Thank you everybody.

>> CHRIS: Thanks for listening to Accessibility Craft. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe in your podcast app to get notified when future episodes release. You can find Accessibility Craft on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and more. And if building accessibility awareness is important to you, please consider rating Accessibility Craft five stars on Apple podcasts. Accessibility Craft is produced by Equalize Digital and hosted by Amber Hinds, Chris Hinds, and Steve Jones. Steve Jones composed our theme music. Learn how we helped make 1000s of WordPress websites more accessible at equalizedigital.com.