Accessibility is Leadership
Accessibility can wear you down fast.
If you’re new to it, you’re mired in a world of nuance and few easy answers. If you’re not new, you’re pushing for change every day. You’re either changing or guiding others toward change.
It reminds me of this quote from Fred Rogers:
There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.
Seth Godin says that’s leadership. Leading requires sustained diligence, like trying to hold onto a kite in the wind. So when you’re spent from the effort, there’s a reason. You’re out front.
This is how improving accessibility happens. It’s the work.
We need that in this industry. But we also can’t lead all the time. You have to learn when to step back and embrace patience. Sometimes things need to play out or it’s not the right time. In doing some other work besides the change itself, you’ll be doing what Mr. Rogers calls “establishing an atmosphere.”
Accessibility-minded professionals can’t get it all done. Aim for balance. Establish the atmosphere. Especially if you want to do this work for the long run. We want you teaching those new to the field some day.
Note: It’s easy for me to say don’t always lead or push hard because I’m not the one with the disability fighting barrier after barrier. Sometimes, you need to lead and push. However, I still see value in staying at it over a long period of time.
Image by Viktorija Lankauskaitė.