WebAIM’s Superb Hierarchy for Motivating Change [link]

A Brief Prologue

This morning I saw a tweet from Aral Balkan that managed to fit a whole lot of meaning into a 140-character tweet:

It made me immediately remember a fantastic resource about accessibility ((The “a11y” in the tweet below is shorthand for “accessibility” because there are 11 characters between the “a” and “y.”)) from WebAIM:

I thought I had posted that link on my blog before, but I hadn’t, so now is the time!

Getting Lost in the Details

In the past, I have thought about how we can motivate people to make their websites and website-building tools more accessible. In “Getting More People to Care More About Web Accessibility,” I wrote:

After the first day of Accessibility Camp Seattle 2013, I left thinking about the emphasis placed on web accessibility—the lack there of, that is—by the web industry and even average web users. It’s a multifaceted problem in need of a multifaceted solution, so I’ve come up with a list of things—complementary and overlapping—that I think could contribute to improving the state of the accessible web.

I went on to list some ideas including “The ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) Argument,” bragging about it, ((I think this bragging one is the worst of the suggestions. You’ll see why by the end of the article.)) user interfaces that encourage best practices, and more. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides a similar document for making the “business case” for accessibility. I think they’re all good ideas on their own, but I think they add up to less than the sum of their parts.

Missing the Big Picture. Finding It Again.

Where both posts fall short is their focus on the specifics and missing what is probably the most important motivator of all: self-interest. I don’t mean self-interest as in the synonym of selfish, but rather a more neutral self-interest that takes a utilitarian-flavored bigger picture into account instead of a short-term, narrow view of the world that leads to selfishness.

That’s where the tweet and my response come in. “WebAIM’s Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change” nails this point and even comes with a handy-dandy graphic to explain it.

WebAIM's hiearchy for motivating accessibility change.
The pyramid diagram shows motivations from least- to most-effective: Guilt, Punish, Require, Reward, Enlighten, Inspire. © WebAIM.

I love this because t shows a positive path forward for improving accessibility on the web. It also shows that I personally have a long way to go when it comes to educating and inspiring my clients to do the “right thing.” Knowledge of accessibility features and best practices like Headings, Alt Text, and Link Text, are important, but my end goal should be to enlighten and then inspire them to do these things on their own and for everyone, themselves includes.

What inspires you to make the web more accessible?

Read “WebAIM’s Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change.”

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