Inclusive design is for everyone with disabled folk firmly in the mix

I feel incredibly privileged that I am in the position to get my message of peace, love and inclusivity out there and writing this blog has afforded me the opportunity to do so, not just here on the Action website and not just amongst visually impaired folk, but out in the big bad world, which is becoming increasingly evident that I may be able to actually make an even bigger difference.

I am not trying to devalue the importance of being able to express, pontificate and blather on about the way I handle my disability and everything else life throws at me, because I know that my words help others, but the ability to go out into mainstream society and prick up people’s ears and challenge their opinions on what us disabled folk are like in the flesh is something very different.

And this week finds me speaking at the @media conference, explaining why Inclusive Design is for Everyone and, hopefully, providing some practical tips as to how website designers can ensure that their websites are welcoming to all, irrespective of ability. I have been asserting for a long time that by virtue of being me and by my relative 'normalness' (I say relative and put the word 'normalness' in quotations because I am far from the norm and like it that way, but cannot find another point of reference), I am able to somehow shock people into a realisation of what disability really is. I cannot tell you how many times people tell me they forget that I am blind.

So, when I go and speak at conferences within my industry and am able to educate the people who are actually creating the websites that so many of us struggle to access and use, I realise that, yes, it is about ensuring that disabled people and our plethora of assistive technology are part if the mix, but we are only part of it and that is actually what Inclusivity is all about. I do not want the people who pay good money to attend these conferences going off and thinking that they have just been to a political rally or that they 'must' comply with the DDA or that they 'have to' build websites this way or that way in order to cater to a specific audience, because that would be short-changing them.

It is quite comforting that my message is about Inclusion, because talking about websites that everyone can use is a doddle and then being up there, using my various aids, assistive technology and so on shows them why they need to include us. And people really respond to it, they get it because it’s real and it’s right there in front of them, talking loudly, fast and debunking myths about disability in the middle of mainstream society.

How does it feel to be able to do this? Absolutely awesome. I am elated, honoured and humbled and I will continue to do it until I am no longer needed and the Internet is wholly inclusive.

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