My thoughts on Gutenberg Accessibility by Marco Zehe @marcoinenglish
WordPress and Gutenberg project leaders: You want WordPress to be a platform for everyone? Well, I’d say it is about time to put your money where your mouth is, and start getting serious about that commitment. It is never too late to change a public stance and get positive reactions for it. The doors aren’t closed, and I, for one, would whole-heartedly welcome that change of attitude from your end and not bitch about it when it happens. Your call!

Marco’s being pretty modest in his description of his abilities and what he does for a living, and I’ll save you the time of reading a multi-page biography which would probably border on hagiography (I have a ton of personal and professional respect for Marco) by saying he knows what he’s talking about and should be listened to.

And this is probably as positive as continued critiques are going to get.

There’s so much worth quoting from this post that I had difficulty picking the best excerpt, so I’ll add my thoughts on the other options below, in a slightly different order than they appear in the original post.

… what I see here is a repetitive pattern seen in many other projects, too. Treating accessibility as a bolt-on step at the end of any given cycle never works, will never pay off, and never lead to good inclusive results.

That statement holds true no matter how many slogans or how much positivity you pile on top of it. And I keep bringing up the positivity thing because it’s particularly galling when WordPress leadership preaches inclusion, everyone, and the like, only to have the bits that are inconvenient ignored or dismissed as mere negativity when it comes down to brass tacks.

The fact that a bunch of currently fully able-bodied people have actively decided to not be inclusive from the start means that a lot of decisions requiring a certain amount of both empathy and expertise need to be made at lower levels, and pushed into the product via grass root methods, which are often long and cumbersome and only lead to slow results. These can be very tiring.

This whole situation is crap. The fact that a bunch of us essentially have to stick around because if we don’t the accessibility won’t happen and we have to fight against the laziness of leadership, (and let me be clear here, by leadership I mean the decisionmakers, which doesn’t include most of the people working on Gutenberg, even the designers and developers who carry the title of lead), is demonstration all by itself that accessibility/inclusion isn’t a priority.

I don’t know why other accessibility advocates stick around despite this, I can only speak for myself.

I stick around although with more built-in intermittent breaks out of (1) pure stubbornness and (2) the desire to ensure that people with disabilities are just as able to have an open, independent home on the web just like everyone else and (3) the self-interest I started with.

People with disabilities shouldn’t have to be stuck with Facebook or Twitter, with all their problems, because the benevolent dictator of one of the largest free software projects makes promises, implied or otherwise, about inclusion and “everyone” which he then finds inconvenient to keep.

I once kept a job for two years after the software I needed to do that job became inaccessible because I refused to accept termination and a severence package in lieu of the accessibility issues being resolved. I used that time to hack on WordPress and learn my way around it, and I have benefited greatly from that initial learning and the assistance and friendship or even family of the WordPress community.

If I could manage to keep that job until I could leave on my terms, I will figure out how to stick with WordPress either until things get better or I leave on my terms.

I’m definitely not walking away while that piece paraphrasing my original HeroPress essay is still up on I still stand by a lot of what’s there, especially the bits about the community, but if I go along to get along, or don’t speak up about this stuff when I think it’s warranted, then essentially I provide an easy way for that piece to be used as promotional material or evidence of a claim that is more like an ideal to be striven for as long as the circumstances are just right.

I don’t have any intention of serving as a token.

I realize all of the above probably sounds like I’m being an arrogant jerk, although I don’t intend arrogance at all, and I hope the people who know me and who have interacted with me also realize that.

I’m thankful for the rest of the accessibility advocates in this community especially, and the rest of the accessibility team who work so hard on a daily basis and never complain when surely they could be doing other things with their free time.

And I’m thankful to the accessibility advocates outside the WordPress community who have spoken up on these issues.

Finally, I’m thankful for Marco joining the discussion.

Yes, I’m tired. But if I can manage to keep a job for two years and leave on my own terms and only on my own terms, I can stick around and help everyone who has spoken up and sacrificed their free time win this. We’ll do it eventually.

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11 thoughts on “Read: “My thoughts on Gutenberg accessibility” by @MarcoInEnglish and offered some thoughts of my own

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