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Discussion on: Comebacks for Five (Wrong) Arguments Against Accessibility

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scotthannen profile image
Scott Hannen • Edited

I appreciate the article, especially the part about how anyone can be temporarily disabled. Accessibility is like globalization. Not only do you need to plan for it up front, but taking it into account leads to better design.

This is the most common response I've seen online, almost always from white guys.

Please, trust me that I'm not one of those people who takes offense when someone talks about white guys. I'm not into the whole "proud to be a white guy" thing at all. Your statement doesn't offend me and didn't stop me from enjoying what you had to say.

But still, why? You wrote an excellent article on an important subject, so why unnecessarily politicize it? Does it add anything?

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scotthannen profile image
Scott Hannen • Edited

I helped open this can of worms, so I'll add this helpful Vulcan proverb. I'm not a Trekkie and I'm embarrassed to know a Vulcan proverb.

There is no offense where none is taken.

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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

The quoted line simply highlights the fact that a disproportionate number of developers fall into the category of "white guy" (guilty as charged); many of whom seem incapable of seeing beyond their personal experiences (hopefully not entirely guilty). Whilst that's not necessarily a demonstration of conscious bias on their part; it is a significant contributor to why the tech industry repeatedly makes mistakes that adversely affect "minorities" - most of whom are not actually minorities. The perceived "default" ("white guy") is not representative; and so the needs of others are not properly considered: e.g. "Most of Our Users Don't Need Accessibility"...

For those who are affected the issue is political.

Read Technically Wrong if you want some illustrations of this issue.

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maxwell_dev profile image
Max Antonucci Author

As per the "white guys" point, I'm simply stating what I've observed in my experiences. My own guess as to why this is that, as one of the groups discriminated against the least in modern society compared to historically marginalized groups, its easiest for us to overlook the needs of other groups. It takes more effort for groups near the top to remember things are different others, and it takes further effort to remember this and create long-lasting change.

So yes, I think it adds something, is worth talking about, and isn't "unnecessary politicization" for a topic like this. If I used this post to rail against how how American infrastructure has languished due to gasoline taxes not increasing with inflation due to consumer pressure, then that'd be unneeded politicization :P I will remember to add some more details in later posts so it doesn't seem like just a throwaway comment, so thanks for the feedback!

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amielucha profile image
Sławek Amielucha

Here's an exercise for you to check if it's appropriate to use "white guys" in an article: replace the "white guys" with "black guys", "jews", and "women". Then read each sentence out loud. If it sounds OK, go ahead an use it. If it strikes the wrong chord, you might have a bias.

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maxwell_dev profile image
Max Antonucci Author

See my previous response, thanks! 😊

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Massimo Artizzu

My own guess as to why this is that, as one of the groups discriminated against the least in modern society compared to historically marginalized groups, its easiest for us to overlook the needs of other groups.

Or maybe it's because our industry "white guys" are the largest group by far (at least in North America and Europe), so it's unsurprising that they give most of the feedback. In that regard, your statement is technically true but it adds nothing to the story and it's actually distracting from the main point.

I could reply that I've heard the same remarks from women, proportionally to their presence in IT, but it'd be a throwaway comment as well, because I'd need numbers to support my thesis. You will need too, if you plan to clarify your statement (I'd welcome your effort).

It takes more effort for groups near the top to remember things are different others, and it takes further effort to remember this and create long-lasting change.

Sure. We can all agree on that. But how does the information that remarks against accessibility usually come from white men help us in that regard? Do we need to prepare to debate with them in special ways? Can we ignore such arguments if they come from, say, an Asian woman? What about countries where white men are a minority?

I personally don't think it's politicizing the topic, but on the other hand if you say that "it adds something", I reply that it's not clear how, and the risk is that it could flame the discussion with off topic remarks and without any deliberate goal.

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scotthannen profile image
Scott Hannen

It doesn't politicize the topic. It politicizes the article about the topic.

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maxwell_dev profile image
Max Antonucci Author

See my previous response, thanks! 😊

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Sloan, the sloth mascot
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nektro profile image
Meghan (she/her)

And they felt like it wasn't because they wanted to add a personal anecdote. It's very necessary.