A11y Community: Taking Thanksgiving to Heart

African american woman wearing yellow sweater at kitchen smiling with hands on chest with closed eyes and grateful gesture on face.

We talk about a lot of things on and around Thanksgiving: family, food, shopping, travel, football, and all the related things good, bad and indifferent. But the most beautiful thing that stands out on this holiday in-particular is the focus on and expression of gratitude. At our table, we reflected on our deep appreciation for the A11y community and the role that we get to play in it throughout the year.

Before we take another step, let’s define “A11y”. The term is a clever abbreviation of the word Accessibility, replacing the eleven letters between the “A” and the “Y” with the number 11. It has come to mean more though, from a technical term referring to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0/2.1 compliance, to a movement to make the world accessible to all.

For the A11y community, the abbreviation is handy, the technical requirements are painfully real, and the movement is infinite in its capacity to connect people and change lives. Here are just a few of the things our team is especially grateful for, not just on Thanksgiving, but every single day.

A11y Community-Enabling Technology

There are a growing number of enabling technologies that can help support your efforts to advance the accessibility of your website and other digital assets, whether for the sake of compliance, duty, or pure care for the A11y community.

From accessibility checkers to templates, we are grateful for the legitimately helpful technologies that can give us and others a head-start on compliance. The trick is that few (if any) can stand on their own without manual review and remediation, and many of them barely scratch the surface, giving the user a false sense of security.

It’s not an either-or question. The list of important and helpful technologies grows every day, and we will continue to test and use them with full knowledge that they can’t fully replace people as both drivers and users of digital accessibility.

Patience & Determination Among the A11y Community

Members of the A11y community include those who navigate the world with various abilities and disabilities, whether temporary or chronic, visible or invisible, cognitive, mental or physical. They also include those who serve them by making physical and digital spaces accessible for all.

Regardless of which side you’re on – and chances are it’s both at one time or another – it takes a tremendous amount of patience, determination, resilience and gumption to keep working and trying while the rest of the world lags or maybe starts to catch up. We’re so thankful for the effort and energy that is advancing the cause one day at a time.

A11y Community Partners Who Walk the Talk

Beyond general gratitude for the A11y community as a whole, we are extremely thankful for our own partners who have stepped up to make a big difference in a big way.

Our marketing and development partners work with us to beat the accessibility drum in a fully compliant and compassionate way. Pioneers in accessible social media, content delivery and code, they enable us to extend our reach and empower our talented development team to focus more of our time on doing the massive work of serving the A11y community. They are also practicing what we preach by revising their own websites and digital assets for accessibility. Stay tuned for more as they gain ground.

Others, like A Doll Like Me and Ability App, keep us focused on the reason we do all this. It’s easy to make the case for change based on risk of litigation, which is real. But the heart of our gratitude for our A11y community is with those who do it to open up our world to everyone, because they care and because they can.

In October, we announced our partnership with A Doll Like Me, an organization that dared ask a question that led to a better status quo. In response to a need for improved inclusivity for children going through difficult medical and physical challenges, Amy Jandrisevits founded nonprofit A Doll Like Me with the mission to create very special dolls that mirror the loving children who will own them.

In November, we announced our connection and a budding relationship with Alex Knoll, the 14-year-old CEO of Ability App. Ability App “will help people with any type of disability (cognitive, hearing, vision and mobility) and caregivers navigate public spaces and search for specific disability friendly features. Users will be able to research the level of accessibility at any public space like a retail store, restaurant, hotel, park, theater, etc. prior to leaving the safety, functionality, and security of their own home.“

Opportunities, Challenges & Progress with A11y

We could go on and on (and we do) but we’ll close with a more general statement of gratitude. We are so thankful for the challenges that push us and others to change, the opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people and companies, and the progress we are making together with the broader A11y community. Cheers to every step we take!

Here’s a preview of a quote you may see our mascot, Lumey, hoot about in the near future:

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

Join the A11y community conversation on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and tell us what YOU are grateful for!

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