Skip to content

How I do support

The majority of my work is support: helping and enabling others to make more accessible things. Here are some notes to self on how I try to do it.

Redirections aka “Hey, look over there!”

  • If it’s one of those complicated, fuzzy, nuanced, questions, ask to have a chat (start with a 30 minute session) instead of trying to resolve it on Slack. One retroactive sign of this is when a thread gets above 10 or so messages!
  • Keep pointing people to the QAC.
  • Use the scorecard as a reminder to help steer support: is it a thinking problem, a developing problem, or a testing problem?
  • Suggest testing with real People with Disabilities.

Enablement, not delivery aka “Please, help yourself.”

  • Ask for more detail, what problem they’re trying to solve. There’s usually some extra context that’s helpful.
  • Give a short answer (people are here for help), link to the docs with more detail (let people dig deeper if they want to).
  • Address the specific problem and the root cause. If something seems really tricky to code, maybe the design is worth revisiting?
  • Where possible, refer people to each other. Has someone else already solved this? Did we help someone else solve this? Tap them into the thread. Help from a direct peer is more likely to be useful and directly applicable.

Accessibility is Usability aka “This is for everyone.”

  • Remind people that accessibility is not a binary thing: inaccessible vs 100% accessible. It’s a sliding scale.
  • Frame it as a usability problem (which includes accessibility). And it impacts people with disabilities more severely.
  • Help people understand it’s about getting to “as the designer intended”, not a lesser or reduced experience. Low contrast is a good example: is it still beautiful if some people can’t see it?

Empathy, Simplicity, Positivity aka “Bring it back, human.”

  • Focus on the improvements and their impact, rather than the problems. Keep bringing it back to the customer human being.
  • Bring some energy rather than being dry and technical.
  • be empathetic; make it simple; be positive.

Multiple approaches “Why can’t it be both?”

  • Balance the ideal-world and real-word goals. Understand that teams have conflicting priorities, and are often put between a rock and a hard place.
  • Crab claw: we need both big, long-term, and small, short-term, solutions.
  • Prefer the carrot to the stick, but remember that we need both.