Prioritizing Accessibility Part 2

Last week I wrote about my goal to make my blog site more accessible and my embarrassment that my goal was an afterthought and not a priority.

I am happy to say (although feelings of guilt remain) that I have taken some steps to improve the accessibility of my posts.

First, I switched to a more accessible font. Although my outdated personal preference is Times New Roman, sans-serif fonts are easier to read. Readability needs to trump personal preference of squiggly lines on letters.

Second, I added alternative text to my images if my captions did not describe all the details of the picture. Alternative text is important because it is read by screen readers making the image more accessible to those with visual or other cognitive challenges.

Third, I utilized WAVE, a web accessibility evaluation tool, to provide feedback on the accessibility of my site. WAVE alerted me to some accessibility issues on my page.

I learned that it would have saved time if I had thought of accessibility at the beginning of my blogging journey (during the design phase) as opposed to considering it after I had written a number of posts. However, with the aforementioned actions, I was able to create a more accessible blog site. And, hey, you never know, maybe with a more accessible blog, my number of readers will increase from one to two.

Prioritizing Accessibility

Here’s a real problem that I’m embarrassed about: I have been blogging for a couple months now, and now my goal is to make my blog site more accessible to all readers.

The problem is not the goal, of course. It’s an admirable goal. The problem is the timing of the goal. Improving accessibility is often an afterthought when it should be a top priority.

Barriers to accessibility are like my kids’ toys lying around the house: they’re annoying, they’re everywhere, and they’re harmful. Stepping on LEGO© hurts!

Awareness of the barriers to accessibility has improved in recent years, but more is needed. Sure, it takes time to break down large-scale societal and systemic barriers. But barriers can be broken. Perhaps it starts with individuals. I hope that individuals start thinking about accessibility issues at the onset of a project. I hope that this forethought becomes the norm. I hope that one day barriers won’t need to be broken because they won’t exist to start with.

Now I shall go about picking up my LEGO© pieces.

I wish I hadn’t put them there in the first place.

Achieving Success with ADD

I have a friend who is highly creative, and there seems to be no stoppage to his original ideas. Whereas most creative individuals have a bucket of creative ideas, my friend has a bottomless well where he can retrieve the divine H2O at will.

Interestingly, creativity is a common characteristic of people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

In my work, I help a number of students with ADD. Outside of my work, I interact with a number of people with ADD. Although I do not have ADD myself, I do have a limited attention span and am easily distracted.

Here are two things I’ve discovered about successful individuals with ADD:

First, they own their ADD. Rather than use it as an excuse, they understand and recognize some of their challenges and develop workarounds. For example, if they have a tendency to forget appointments, they use electronic reminders. If they often lose things like their keys or phone, they designate a specific place for them.

Second, they embrace their strengths. Many people focus on the negatives associated with ADD such as distractibility, impulsivity, or forgetfulness. Successful individuals with ADD, however, not only develop workarounds to compensate for their challenges, but also embrace their strengths. For instance, they see their creativity, originality, or high energy as gifts and find ways to best utilize their positive traits.

A great book related to Attention Deficit Disorder is Delivered from Distraction.

Book by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey.
Cover of Delivered from Distraction Photo by M. Fleming

In one chapter, the authors list seven habits of highly effective adults with ADD. Here are four:

  1. Do what you are good at.
  2. Have a creative outlet.
  3. Organize enough to achieve your goals.
  4. Regularly connect with some close friends.

The authors also offer an inspiring message:

Everyone who has ADD can sculpt a fulfilling, joyful life out of what they’ve been born with.

I’ll take it one step further: Everyone can sculpt a fulfilling, joyful life out of what they’ve been born with.

Enjoy sculpting.