Thursday, May 9, 2013

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Hey there.

This year I've chosen time as my personal theme for Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Your time is your most precious resource. Obvious no? Yet the value of your time is only there if you spend it in a way that you can be happy about, even (or especially) retrospectively. Your time is also the greatest gift you can give whether it is time to read stories to kids, time to listen to someone in need of your ear, time to solve problems, time to make a website or app accessible, and so on. You are busy. I know. I'll try to use less commas.

I once worked with a remarkable dude named Jon Thomas Kameoka. He ran our local network. Jon was well acquainted with the patience aspect of human-time as it took quite a while for him to physically articulate words. When I first met him I wasn't sure how to interact, and some people seemed to interact with him with a few words, quick waves and nods. I was busy. Then one day when we were alone I decided to try a real conversation. I quickly realized he was just a sharp dude with physical obstacles. Later, whenever I spent the time to listen carefully I was often well rewarded as his satirical wit was shatteringly funny. He actually toiled to produce speech for the gift of entertainment! I regret all those times I rushed past him or cut our conversation off early because I had to get back to work. I could have made up the time. I can't make up the time with Jon anymore. I do not regret any of those times I stopped to chat. These days I occasionally come across things that remind me of him and how the time-patience battle often gets in the way. A recent reminder for me was coming across a commencement address by David Foster Wallace:
I'm not sure how I feel about the video since it feels a little obvious eh? Awareness and perspective are vital. Self-centered thinking is a prison. It is a trap. I want to say decide for yourself how you want to assess time and value. How do you value grace? I think rushing slows you down; give your time while you can. [Hey I just saved you a few minutes by editing out a rambling philosophical digression.] Anyways, without getting caught up in debate about the concept of time let's at least agree it is something we can't live without. Sadly time takes precious things away from us. On this day, can you take 59 minutes to investigate accessibility in your workplace and in your products? Research accessibility, reach out to peers, ask questions. I am sure you will be rewarded for it, especially if it gives you new perspective. Sorry about that last comma.