How we’re building more inclusive and accessible components at GitHub

Eric sets the stage to discuss his incredible labor of work (and love) to make GitHub more inclusive and accessible:

Before we discuss the particulars of these updates, I would like to call attention to the most important aspect of the work: direct participation of, and input from daily assistive technology users.

Disabled people’s direct involvement in the inception, design, and development stages is indispensable. It’s crucial for us to go beyond compliance and weave these practices into the core of our organization. Only by doing so can we create genuinely inclusive experiences.

Eric Bailey

This isn’t the meat of Eric’s post, but it’s worth putting the spotlight on it because this is the sort of framing I rarely see in articles about accessibility. Many articles are framed as a one-way conversation from the perspective of an accessibility practitioner or expert about a particular point of WCAG conformance or they wax vengeance on those who know less or not any better for making honest mistakes — but are reading to learn and improve.

Eric is purely focused on two things here: (1) humans and (2) creating usable experiences. There’s a vulnerability in his writing when he describes relying on the direct feedback of GitHub users who are impacted by his work rather than resting on the laurels of what I know he is extremely good at.

Another point I want to highlight is how Eric describes the need to “go beyond compliance” when it comes to accessibility practices. We have WCAG success criteria meticulously organized around usability principles, and while they can be tough to pass, they are technically guidelines as opposed to rules or some binding principles. They’re benchmarks, but real “compliance” is likely to go above and beyond to account for the real impairments that affect the real experiences of the real people using sites like GitHub. Meeting a success criterion is a guidepost, but the real “score” you want to pass are those imposed by users. Conformance doesn’t always lead to accessible experiences, after all.

That’s all I wanted to note here. But you’ll be doing yourself a real solid reading the full article. This is accessibility at a massive scale for a product that drives so much of the work we do to create web experiences. It’s a rare peek at the work, challenges, nuances, and tough decisions of someone not only investing sweat equity toward a great cause, but also extremely good at what they do. Just read it already.

✏️ Handwritten by Geoff Graham on May 10, 2024(Updated on 5/14/2024)

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