Podcast Episode 8 - Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change

the IAP Your Accessibility Podcast

This week on the IAP, we talk about WebAIM's Hierarchy for Motivating Accessibility Change, which is sort of a chart depicting a new way of thinking about the best way to motivate others with regard to accessibility compliance.

Show Notes & Links


Announcer: This is the IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast with Mike Guill and Mark Miller. Introducing Mike Guill and Mark Miller.


Mark Miller: Hi, I’m Mark Miller with Accessibility Specialist Mike Guill, and this is your Accessibility Podcast. Mike, what do we want people to do if they’re having fun with this podcast and eh... enjoying the discussion on accessibility?

Mike Guill: Pass the word.

Mark: Pass it on! Let people know. We have a lot of fun doing this, and we hope you have a lot fun listening. So if you do, please share and let people know about it. It’s the only way that the word gonna get spread and more people will listen.

Mike: Yeah, tweet it, Facebook it, LinkedIn, whatever you gotta do.

Mark: Linkedin. All right..umm..so we wanna chitchat about this article up here on Webaim, blog post on Webaim that was uh.... So this was posted by Jared Smith and you said another friend of yours wrote it? I’m confused.

Mike: No. Well, of course, I found it on Twitter where all good things come from.

Mark: All good things come to those who tweet.

Mike: Yes..

Mark: That’s a quote from Mike right there. [laughs]

Mike: [laughs] So my...my friend Stephani wrote an article on her blog commenting about Jared’s article.

Mark: ...about Jared’s article. So I’m looking at Jared’s article right now.

Mike: So go back to Jared’s article. And, of course. Jared’s idea for this article came from where?.

Mark: I’m gonna guess. Just a wild shot in the dark—Twitter?

Mike: Yes, absolutely.

Mark: So yeah, this...this got its little triangle here, right? This is like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but it’s Jared’s hierarchy of motivating accessible change.

Mike: Right.

Mark: So..um..it’s a cool little graphic that makes a quick point, which is a good point..uh...and then his...his article on Webaim breaks it down and talks about each little element here. So do you wanna lay this graphic out for the listeners or do you want me to do it.

Mike: Well, we can fill in the gaps. But essentially the least effective way to inspire...or to motivate accessibility change is to punish people or to guilt them into doing accessibility. The most effective ways are inspiration and enlightenment.

Mark: Right. So what this is...it’s...it’s a triangle graph. You know, I joke about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but it looks a lot like that...

Mike: Of course.

Mark: Guilt is on the bottom. I think he’s saying it’s sorta like the...the not the best way. He’s got a little arrow pointing upwards. So the highest most thing is inspire. Uh..he’s got beautiful colors and all sorts of stuff like that to make it appealing. Uhh...you know, it’s interesting. I quickly run down the list of things. He starts at the bottom with guilt. He goes to punish, require, reward, enlighten, and inspire. And we can...we can talk about specifically what he means by some of those. But if you look...it’s...I’m glad he put it up there because if you look at..um...people like B.F. Skinner who...who’ve...who’s a behavioral psychologist, I believe is what you call it, but he studied behavior. Essentially, what they say is: look, you punish somebody, you gonna make a change. It’s going to be an immediate change, but it’s going to be a short-term change. If you reward somebody—reward, in this case, equals inspire—you’re gonna make a slower change. They may not go, Ah-ah, I’m going to do this right now because I’m afraid of something. But they eventually do it. And when they do it, it’s lasting. It..it goes for a long time. So I think we’ve been in this guilt-punish-sliding-into-require mode when it comes to accessibility. And I think the point Jared is making here is like Hey look, let’s inspire some people. Let’s get everybody on board and make a lasting change to the way the world views accessibility. Going back to the last article where we were talking about...um... responsive design and the way that is embraced, and why don’t we embrace accessibility in the same way. I said article, I meant podcast. So anyways, I was kinda...that’s what I like about this when you sent it over. I don’t know if our listeners have figured it out yet, but Michael Gill is the official I’m gonna find something for us to talk about on the Web guy. And then I look at it and go Nice job, Mike! Then we chat about it [laughing]

Mike: [laughing]

Mark: But when it came over, I was really..uh...you know, I was happy to see that somebody was sitting down, not only thinking about this but putting it out there in a way that is accessible...um...I mean sort of mentally accessible like it’s real easy to consume mentally and understand for us. So....

Mike: Yeah. You see, the thing about this that I like—and Stephani made this point on her blog when she was commenting on this article—is that...you know...so often the ea...the easiest...like the easiest thing to do is to give some guilt, right? You know, if you care about this, you would do it the right way or...um...use the fail hashtag. That sort of thing [laughing]

Mark: Right. [laughing]

Mike: What Stephani says kinda gives us a bad name.

Mark: Yes.

Mike: It’s kinda a holier than thou approach. And we all know...we all know that when you start off...when you start off with a confrontational angle..um...you only gonna end up encountering resistance on the other side. You’re...it’s human nature to sort of react negatively to that...that confrontation.

Mark: Yeah. Well, it’s like...I don’t know...you’re walking along the side of the road and a bus swerves and heads right for you. What do you do? Right. You got a negative situation you gotta deal with.

Mike: [laughs]

Mark: You immediately—and without thought—get the heck out of the way, right? You jump to the side. You dive and roll and, you know, you don’t care if you get scraped on the rocks on the ground, whatever.

Mike: I hope that everybody knows you are not saying that we accessibility people should be running down other folks...

Mark: [laughs]

Mike: ...with buses...

Mark: I hope not, but some of them might want to, I guess. [laughs]

Mike: [laughs]

Mark: But the...but then you get up, right? And you’re all irritated. But where do you go? You go right back to the side of the road. You may even spin around and not even look ‘cause you gonna make gestures to the bus that almost ran you over. [laughs]

Mike: [laughs]

Mark: So the point being is you made an immediate change, but then you went right back to where you were because you were...you were afraid, you know. This is guilt, but guilt, fear...you know. I guess people aren’t afraid of accessibility until .....until they get worried about litigation. But when you inspire somebody to be somewhere else, that’s where they stay, you know. And you don’t...don’t run people over in general, whether it’s accessibility-related or not.

Mike: [laughs]

Mark: That’s my disclaimer.

Mike: Here lately we’ve been talking a lot about how accessibility topics have shown up on a lot more mainstreamed websites, blogs, magazines---that sort of thing. And...

Mark: Mashable..

Mike: Yeah, the top tier is to inspire and enlighten parts of this...um...pyramid just remind me that...that..you know.. it used to be...it used to be the case that to make an accessible website, you pretty much had to go all the way back to plain text, you know..

Mark: Back in the nineties or something...

Mike: We don’t live in that world now. We can make things that are beautiful and usable and...umm...definitely there is a lot of creativity that you can pour into websites and not only keep it accessible, make it more accessible, you know. So this inspiration thing at the top of the pyramid is really...is really speaking to me because I think we were...we’ve been spending so much time on the enlightenment of developers and designers saying that..you know..you get...along with accessibility you get better SEO, you get better browser compatibility—you get all these things, right? But now we’re at the point where we can say, Hey, look at this gorgeous, beautiful, useful website... Oh, it’s very accessible. [laughs]

Mark: Yeah, it’s sort like a show...

Mike: Show me you can do it.

Mark: Yeah, show me what you can do. Look at what this person did. This is fantastic. You know, this is...this is great. It’s glowing. It’s inspiring and everything. What can you do now? You know, and again I think it goes back to our responsive design discussion where people are excited. They’re inspired by responsive design. What does this mean? How can I be creative with this? How can you be creative with accessibility? Umm...and I think that’s...that’s to Jared’s inspire point. Literally..

Mike: Absolutely. I remember the first time I saw a responsive site. And as a developer, a designer, I...I...I immediately wanted to know how to do it. How can I...how can I figure this out?

Mark: Right.

Mike: I want to do something like that. I want to do one that’s better. [chuckles[

Mark: Yeah, and that’s...you know..and that’s how people.. Enlightenment is one thing. Enlightenment doesn’t... isn’t movement, though, but it’s a good step; you gotta have it there. Inspiration is movement. Inspiration is finding someplace other than the side of the road—to go back to the bus analogy—to be, someplace that is better, that is not as..you know...you’re not likely to get run over. Umm..and not just because you’re afraid of getting run over but because it’s a better place.

Mike: Yeah, yep. And I wanna jump down back to the bottom of the pyramid here to talk about punish for a minute because Jared makes a point in this and I know...ok, punishment is, for example, lawsuits, ok? It’s very...it’s a common...um...it’s a common type of thing to hear about lawsuits. You hear it all the time — Netflix has been sued, Target been sued. Lots and lots of companies have been either subject of a complaint by an organization or group, or an actual lawsuit, and they have to act on it to resolve the complaint, to resolve the suit—whatever. So what Jared says is that it’s dangerous because right away it causes the people with disabilities to be viewed as enemies and antagonists...

Mark: Yeah

Mike: You know, and I agree with that. Now, having said that, I also know a lot of lawyers who work with accessibility [laughs] You know...its....in some cases..

Mark: It’s punishment...

Mike: Well, in some cases, it’s a necessary step, you know.

Mark: I think that’s a good point. I think that if you look at this, guilt and punishment are actually the base of all this. And in some degree, they have to come first.

Mike: Yeah

Mark: You know what I mean? It’s not to discount those things completely. But I think we’re at a point and time where we’ve made it to the top of Jared’s pyramid and if we all recognize it, then we can inspire.

Mike: Yeah.

Mark: You know. All right, we need to wrap things up. But this is pretty cool. We’ll put it in the Show Notes, definitely...especially for people who really concern about accessibility. You should check out Jared’s pyramid. But uh...we gotta wrap things up. So, please, like we said at the beginning of the podcast, if you’re diggin’ this, share it. Let people know about it. We’d love to have people listen to it. And this is Mark.

Mike: This is Mike.

Mark: Reminding you to keep it accessible.

Announcer: The IAP - Interactive Accessibility Podcast brought to you by Interactive Accessibility, the accessibility experts. You can find their Access Matters Blog at Interactiveaccessibility.com/blog


Share This Post