Tech Support for Social Problems
Accessibility is a social issue that is often framed in technical terms. Rather than separating accessibility, diversity and inclusion, we want to think them as interconnected aspects of human interaction. We want to take a step back from technological limitations to work on creating inclusive, accessible environments that welcome everyone.
Understanding access needs and creating inclusive spaces however is very context-dependent and usually has to be done on a case-by-case basis. Dealing with accessibility and inclusion requires good strategies, but there is more to it than adhering to a set of pre-definided guidelines.
We would like to invite you to re-think practical matters of accessibility and inclusion by approaching it as part of everyday communication. We want to highlight that accessibility is not necessarily about solving a fixed set of problems, but about cultivate an ability to critically and productively engage with people and their needs in our daily lives.
No matter if you are an academic writer, webservice host, business, or service provider, you want to reach people with your work. Framing inclusion as a matter of communication allows to consider a wider range of ideas and therefore enable you to reach a broader audience.
Why are we doing this?
During my studies at the department of Science and Technologie Studies at the University of Vienna, I became involved in (academic) event planning. For the Changing Worlds Conference that I co-founded, we focused on transdisciplinarity, accessibility and inclusion. But even after that project ended, one question kept popping up: Accessibility sounds great, but where do I start?
Together with my colleague Victoria Neumann, I have been working towards answering this question for and with others. We want to show you that there are many small, doable actions everyone can take to invite more people in. A big part of doing that is making the invisible visible, and we want to facilitate that by helping you to ask yourself the right questions. Because often asking the right questions is much harder than finding good answers.
Below you can find some of the materials we've been working on.
Finding Useful Questions
This is a list of questions that's supposed to form a starting point for reflecting on your audience/users.
Trying to find out about the kind of information other people might find helpful will aid you in uncovering hidden barriers.
The topics in this document correspond with the examples we are using for workshop, and they represent some commonly overlooked issues.
There are no “one size fits all” solutions to dealing with people's needs, but in this list we tried to provide a range of questions you could use as a starting point to consider your audience and how to make your space as accomodating and comfortable as possible.
Slides from our talk at DIPRC2019
In this talk, our objective is to present a framework for approaching everyday communication and interactions that deals with the complex issues surrounding accessibility. diversity and inclusion.
We will highlight different accessibility problems using cases ranging from corporate communication to academic event management. Using practical examples and theoretical thought, we will show that small changes in everyday communication processes can have a great impact on inclusion. This approach can be applied in private, corporate and academic contexts regardless of scale.