Accessibility is fun, or is it? (Also: Updated Quick Reference for WCAG 2.2)
There is a lot going on in the world at the moment, so my brain is not really in the moot to write long accessibility blog posts. Indeed, most days are a slog to get through.
As accessibility professionals, working is sometimes especially hard on the mind. Despite our best efforts, the work as a tester especially can be supremely frustrating. Consulting on big projects can be stress inducing.
That’s because our work is incredibly important, but if our work has any, a little or a lot of impact is often not in our hands. Sometimes you guide, test, and train for weeks, months, years, and a business change in the company wipes away all the progress. And there is nothing you can do.
I feel this often, and with world events, there is even less space to work through the bad thoughts. One of the ways to work through these anxieties, for me, is to do something that is fun. For me, that is building LEGO sets while churning through episodes of the Total Party Kill actual play D&D podcast (Opens in a new window). Or going outside. Or playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder. (It’s superb!)
It’s fundamentally necessary that we can switch our brains off from accessibility work (he says, typing this newsletter on a Saturday).
I’ve recently republished a Twitter thread on protecting yourself and accepting that real-world accessibility is messy (Opens in a new window). And takes time and patience. It’s a truth that we have to acknowledge. Sometimes good enough is good enough. Sometimes there are still rough edges left after our work is done.
That’s not a failure on our part. It’s the way accessibility is structured at this point.
Shell Little created a whole presentation on “The Accessibility to Burnout pipeline” (Opens in a new window), where she quotes from the thread above.
(I have not seen it – mostly because I don’t feel like being reminded of my burnout, but also because Deque’s axe-con page has forgotten my account again, and the registration page seems to not submit for me.)
Putting the fun in accessibility
I remember the early 2000s to mid 2010s where the accessibility industry was a loose federation of people who really, really cared. Much of the work was done in free time or thanks to employers who saw the value. And that aspect has not changed at all among people who deeply care.
Heydon Pickering’s Webbed Briefs videos are amazing artifacts of packaging accessibility content in weird and fun ways. (Opens in a new window) The Accessibility Overlays one is special. (Opens in a new window)
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The unfortunate reality is also that many who start out do not see this side of accessibility at all. For them, we are relentless bookkeepers that want to trash their work.
And yes, sometimes we are. And sometimes, the best effort we can recommend is a rewrite or a redesign. I know for me that’s always the last resolution. I try to salvage as much existing work as possible, because time invested in rebuilding is not invested in fixing other stuff.
But it’s important to remind ourselves of the great, fun resources out there.
WCAG 2.2: What’s next?
A month has now passed since WCAG 2.2 has been released as a standard, and the impact has been limited so far. I try to look at the new SCs when working on projects, but there has not been obvious issues with any of them. And I’m happy for others to find the corner cases of SCs these days.
There are many open issues in the WCAG repository (Opens in a new window) that address small editorial issues in WCAG and the supporting documents. I want to highlight that there seem to be some old versions of Understanding documents floating about on the W3C server. Just double-check that you see the latest information when surfing the resources.
A couple of the issues I submitted (Opens in a new window) are still open, too.
W3C did not manage to update the Quick Reference (Opens in a new window) in time for the publication of WCAG 2.2. I have contributed an update to the repository (which seems to be published now) and also just today submitted a pull request for tags to new success criteria (Opens in a new window).
I’m thinking of overhauling even more of the QuickRef – it’s very outdated and my vision today does not really mesh with the vision W3C/WAI and the Working Group have for this resource. (Let me know if you have any ideas, too!)
With the next Accessibility Guidelines Working Group charter (Opens in a new window), which should come into effect on October 31st (spooky, isn’t it!) the WCAG 2 chapter at W3C is closed, apart from maintenance work. As I have written about extensively (Opens in a new window), I don’t think this is a good decision. WCAG 2 needs a strong group that quickly acts on issues and clarification, and that can make normative decisions.
The Down-Under-Accessibility-Friends from Intopia have published short animated videos about the new success criteria on their YouTube page (Opens in a new window).
Thanks to everyone who supports this independent writing, and exploring, and fixing WCAG. Special thanks to everyone who has signed up to support me through membership (Opens in a new window), too.
I’m now also findable on Bluesky, with the handle @yatil.net (Opens in a new window). I’m not active there, but my blog posts and some microblog posts might get syndicated over there.
I also try to formulate more medium long posts on my microblog, which is published at micro.yatil.net (Opens in a new window) and can be followed on the Fediverse at @email@example.com (Opens in a new window).
(Yes, this is all quite complicated!)