In which I potentially piss a bunch of people off, but oh well.

As I browsed through work Twitter this morning, I came across this.

In case you don’t want to read the entire thread, or the embed gives you fits, the gist is this:
UX conference: Hey, we’d like submissions from ladies of marginalized groups.
Very polite accessibility professional: I’d love to help you out, but am unable to complete your form with a screen reader. Here’s a free alternative platform you can use.
UX conference: So sorry, maybe next time.

When pressed, the UX con asserts that, since their link has been spread so far already, and since they’re volunteers, they can’t do anything about it for now.

You had to go there, didn’t you?

I am loath to call any small outfit that doesn’t get accessibility right lazy, because I know that resources can be tight and knowledge is often limited. But this is an example of pure laziness and unwillingness to make even the slightest change. Being volunteer-driven is no excuse. The overwhelming majority of WordPress contributors are volunteers, and yet we’re working on the accessibility of our platform. Our link has been spreading for the last thirteen years, and yet we’re working on the accessibility of our platform. The problem here isn’t lack of resources, or that this UX con’s organizing team is made up of volunteers. Hell, every single WordCamp’s organizers are volunteers, and yet we somehow manage to make sure that inclusion of the groups this con is asking for submissions from, plus people with disabilities, is part and parcel of every single one of our events.

This isn’t about resources, it’s about priorities. I will be the first one to yell at accessibility folks when I believe things are going crazy. But you don’t get to trumpet your inclusion creds while blatantly excluding people with disabilities. That signals that every other effort you’re making towards inclusion of marginalized groups is a hollow one, and only serves as a cover-your-ass mechanism. It’s not like anyone’s asking for the con’s entire CMS to be rewritten. All that’s being asked is that you create an accessible form so that you can get the submissions you so desperately desire. But if you’re not willing to make your form accessible, an effort which might take you an hour tops, assuming that this is a complex form, (which it’s probably not), you might as well just say that your conference is for the privileged only. At least if you did that, no one would waste their time trying to help you out.



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