Friday, February 6, 2015

Access. Inclusion. Compliance. Absurdly Grateful

RantWoman's world abounds in opportunities to be absurdly grateful for seemingly simple things that other people barely think about, such as easily readable websites!

 Take a brand new website for a program RantWoman is attached to:.

 --Are the links simple, easy to follow, and created with clear English?

 --Does Mr. JAWS have to read over a bunch of punctuation and brackets and weird number sequences. RantWoman COULD better figure out the settings so Mr. JAWS will skip this.On the other hand, if RantWoman already has too much to do, having technological excuses to skip over things with crappy interfaces sometimes greatly simplifies RantWoman's life. Too bad if the website provider really is wanting RantWoman's attention. RantWoman IS absurdly grateful for clean web pages without a lot of extraneous invisible gunk.

 RantWoman has been thinking about all of this and cheerleading a project from her faith community because they chose a vendor for their website that did almost everything RantWoman cares about really well. ALMOST everything.

 In RantWoman's rich fantasy when the vendor asks the customer for photos, the vendor could also ask the customer for descriptions. RantWoman thinks hearing Mr. JAWS say "organization name Image 1," "organization name Image 2" etc is WAY better than punctuation and numbers gobbledy gook. But RantWoman urged the person who chose the vendor please to forward RantWoman's tiny little quibble so the vendor can think about this as they work with other customers.

 When RantWoman is really going overboard on the fantasy front, she also fantasizes about downloadable documents created with attention to accessibility. This means clear fields that can be completed in either Word documents or PDF's. RantWoman means it about going overboard on the fantasy front though: RantWoman is glad places like, say  the IRS think about accessible forms, but RantWoman a lot of the time just invokes any of her several strategies for dealing with this oversight. RantWoman thinks things like "to hell with preserving the formatting. As a reasonable accommodation, please cope with..." But right now RantWoman is not putting on any official agency hat and is not planning to fill out any of the "For Agencies" forms she downloaded to experiment with.


RantWoman is SO grateful to have only the tiny little photo-tagging quibble and the usual one about downloadable forms.


RantWoman is grateful because the well-done website means access and inclusion for RantWoman but it also means that dreaded word c-c-c-ompliance! Compliance such as even if an organization is only a federal subcontractor several layers down, even if anyone might be tempted to argue about activities RantWoman absolutely considers interstate commerce, even if the connection looks small and slight, if the project wants to be a channel for federal funds and RantWoman definitely wants the project to be able to participate in the federal program they have been working with, then Compliance is still a big consideration and RantWoman is VERY grateful that selecting a good vendor made it easy.

RantWoman also sees having only this tiny little quibble as a GIANT improvement over some challenges in her faith community:

 --RantWoman frequently asks to have agendas and documents to be worked on in a meeting emailed to her in advance. If this does not occur, some of the time RantWoman finds ways to cope. Some of the time. For awhile, RantWoman was needing to work with someone who found it EXTREMELY difficult to accommodate RantWoman's request AND then hoped RantWoman would be able to be thoughtful and concise about difficult topics while other people were ruffling through papers, sailing into meetings on sloppy shcedules not aligned with the announced times of the meetings. Talk about reminding RantWoman why she REALLY needs a faith community!

Yep. RantWoman really needs a faith community, but RantWoman also sometimes has to make people in her faith community's brains melt talking about accessibility.. There are a few people in RantWoman's faith community who are conversant in various strands of geek speak, accessibility terminology, but there are lots of others whose brains understandable melt when the topic comes up. Look, half the time this stuff makes RantWoman's brain melt too, but, well, there are ways to make conversation flow so people who understand the concepts hear each other even if the flow sounds weird. And some days it is just good if people pass on the yelling.

Well, yeah, there are ways to make conversation flow, but for right now RantWoman is being grateful for accessibility that flows automatically without people having to think about it, and RantWoman is grateful to skip the kind of conversations where  every other sentence is something about accessibility and something about accessibility is declared off-topic. And RantWoman apologizes for being nowhere near as wonderful as the famous Two Chicks in Marketing who led a big accessible website effort at Humana. MAYBE if RantWoman hangs out with her faith community for a few billion more years.....

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