Time to introduce myself
I'm often seen as a very vocal advocate for accessibility, equality, and inclusion. I firmly believe in the value of the accessible web, not just financially, but emotionally. I've realised lately that my belief runs deeper than that, and can be summarised by a simple statement:
No one should be excluded by something that isn't a choice.
So no one should be excluded from the web for having additional needs. No one should be unable to visit an interesting place in the real world because their wheelchair can't get there. No one should have their job threatened for being gay, or transgender. No one should be faced with violence for their skin colour, or the country they were born in. None of these things are a choice.
Of course, this isn't all-encompassing, and there are many people who shouldn't be excluded due to something that is a choice too. Pregnancy is often a choice, but that doesn't mean that pregnant women should be excluded. But it's those who haven't made a choice that I'll be looking into today.
By now, many people know that my partner is red-green colour blind. Since I started coding, he's been my ever-patient colour tester for my websites. That really helped me open my eyes to the world of web accessibility. No one should be excluded, because including everyone is just... the right thing to do.
So why isn't everyone included? Why do laws need to be in place to force businesses to be wheelchair accessible? Why must there be laws for companies to make their websites accessible? Why have we had to outlaw discrimination based on protected characteristics? Sadly, I'll never know the answer to that. It's just not something that I can comprehend.
Ok, I've waffled long enough. What's the point of me writing this? I'm a vocal advocate for inclusion, so why have I never been vocal about my own issues? Time to change that.
Hi, I'm Abi. I wear glasses whenever I'm awake for my terrible vision, as without them the world is just blurry blobs of colour. I have astigmatism, which makes it incredibly difficult and painful to drive at night. I wear yellow sunglasses when driving at night to avoid migraines. It also makes dark mode difficult for me (sadly, I really love dark mode!). Even with my glasses on, I struggle to read small text sometimes. I often have to ask my partner to read small text on the TV while we're gaming.
I've also struggled with mental health in the past. I had major depression, panic disorder, and anxiety disorder. Luckily I haven't had any issues in the past few years, and I'm very aware of how fortunate I am to be able to say that. I survived. I still have panic attacks occasionally, and my anxiety flares up at the worst of times, but I am able to manage those now.
So why have I always been so ashamed to reveal that part of myself to people? Bluntly, it's because I don't want to be treated differently. I have my struggles, just like anyone else has theirs. Just because mine have a medical definition doesn't make them any more valid than yours.
This brings me back to my starting point. I didn't have a choice about having bad eyesight - genetics dealt me a bad hand (thanks Dad!). I didn't have a choice about having depression. I don't have a choice about having panic or anxiety attacks (believe me, I'd get rid of them if I could!).
So I find it so easy to see how difficult it must be for those who are discriminated against for their non-choices. Maybe there'll be a day when I can't drive at night anymore, and I'll lose that freedom. Maybe my beloved dark mode will finally become too painful to bear. The thought of someone excluding me from those things is heart-wrenching. So why would I allow it to happen to anyone else?
So yeah. That's me. A11y-obsessed, believer in equality, and angry about exclusion. Nice to meet you.