Understanding the Impact of Accessibility

Ever tried to explain to a software vendor why making their products accessible is important? I often get that privilege. In fact, some of the brightest moments in my work are when I have the opportunity to open a person’s mind to the intrinsic value of accessibility.

Taking a person from “Why would blind people ever want/need to buy tickets online to a sporting event?” to that same person becoming an evangelist for the cause…is….inspiring.

I often have the luxury of introducing real people with disabilities into the equation. I’ll bring in a student or a faculty member with a disability into the conversation with the vendor, and all of a sudden, disability and the need for accessibility has a face. They can no longer say, “I don’t know anyone who would benefit from accessibility.”

Yes…I know, there are numerous other ways to explain the business case for accessibility, I use them too. From SEO to avoiding lawsuits, to doing the right thing. But for me, it is key…to connect the concepts of accessibility to real people.

A colleague of mine, Leslie Jensen-Inman, who teaches at the University of Tennessee, can’t always get a person with disabilities to come to her class. So how does she get her students to understand?

These are the videos I show in class and after watching these the students get accessibility and never ask why again.

It’s the next best thing to actually having someone in the classroom, which is not always possible.

For me, the video that knocks me off my feet is A Pivotal Role in the Household. Even after being in the accessibility business for 9+ years, I can still be blown away by the impact our work can have on individuals.

And yes, I had a battle with myself about posting these links, because none of these videos have captions. But, I wanted to share them immediately and I don’t have time to caption them myself.

So, over to you, now. How do you help turn a person from a non-believer into an accessibility evangelist?


  1. Hello Glenda,
    Great website — glad I stumbled across it. I’m a somewhat recent devotee to the subject of web accessibility, so I’m still trying to convert non-believers. I think the increasing stories of legality — Target, Expedia.com, now the Law School Admissions Council, tend to resonate more than anything.

    Another method of refuting the “Is it really necessary to go to these lengths for such a small percentage of people?” is just the raw numbers. Percentages may not hit people, but numbers like 5 million Americans 21-65 having some sort of sensory disability….that suddenly doesn’t sound so insignificant.

    Glad to have stumbled across your site.

    Thanks much!

  2. Just came across your blog. Very good post!

    I like the idea that you take someone with you when you talk about access. to others. Unless they deal with in on a day-to-day basis, they would not understand the need.

    Going to pass your blog along and subscribe. Thanks!

  3. Hi Glenda: Loved this post! You are right, it is much more helpful when you can put a real face on the disability. Any more it seems everyone has someone in his or her family with some sort of disability and will benefit from accessibility work. Thanks for all of your work to make things better for those of us in the disabled but enabled community.

  4. Thanks for this post. The BBC Click and ‘Pivotal Role in the Household’ videos are great for evangelising accessibility.

  5. hi Glenda,
    I met you at the AccessU conference and asked if you were available for an interview. Please email, or even better, call me at 929-7776.


  6. I’ve coincidentally just started a series on ATMac today entitled Accessibility Changes Lives which I hope will be able to tell people’s stories in a personal enough fashion to be comprehensible to your average person-in-the-street who has no idea why accessibility matters.

    I’ve added the videos you mentioned to the list of resources I’ll probably use in the series – thanks.


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