A long time ago, I recorded a podcast episode with Artur Ortega (in German, but we’ve actually got another one coming up in English, although not about this topic; also, Artur is active on Twitter as @DesignedByBlind and worth following, just saying.) We talked about accessibility, and the discussion we had before we actually started recording really opened my mind to a world I had only known extremely superficially. What was especially mind-blowing to me was that Germany, my own country, turned out to be rather not at all the model environment I had expected it to be. In fact, when you look a little more closely, Germany is actually a disaster. For example, it’s still perfectly acceptable for schools, public buildings, or cultural venues to not be accessible to wheelchair users. There is still no law mandating private web sites are accessible (although there is one for the public sector, but it’s still pretty new).

I find this completely unacceptable. I think it’s a disgrace that it’s still up for debate whether someone who is visually impaired, or someone who can’t hear, or someone who can’t use a mouse, can be excluded from using some service even though there would be perfectly good ways for them to use those things if people made a bit of an effort. Worse, sometimes it’s more a case of people ruining perfectly good accessibility that’s built into things already, simply out of ignorance.

This is one of the cases I referred to before: I think we as an industry have a resonsibility here, a responsibility to refuse to build things that exclude people. And of course “the industry” here is just a placeholder: I think it should be each individual’s responsibility to care about those aspects, and to refuse to build inaccessible things if they’re asked to do so.

Now of course, this may not always be feasible, and I don’t subscribe to the view that indididual action is enough to heal the lack of legal rules and regulations. But being loud-mouthed about it, talking about it, trying to advocate it wherever you can, voting appropriately, and simply caring about this should be a moral duty.