Have you ever had one of those life changing events?Â Where you have little choice but to heed it’s wishes? I’ve had a few. My accident is one. Going vegan is two. And the third one happened just this past Saturday. And all are equally momentous.
Saturday I attended the first annual Accessibility Camp Toronto. An unconference absolutely dedicated to the field of accessibility for and by professionals working in the field. What was so special? Great question. First it was a lot different than I’m used to. With 4 PhotoshopWorld’s, a few Adobe Launches, a couple Apple Presentation’s, a Lynda.com Web Conference and a couple other gatherings under my belt it’s safe to say I’m no stranger to these sorts of events. Or so I thought.
The format while similar in scope, as there was a presenter who presented ideas to an audience, but it was how and what was to be presented that was so different. The schedule wasn’t arranged ahead of time. The session ideas were proposed during the event’s opening then decided on before the event began. That’s not how these things are typically structured and run. The attendees, those who were most interested in what was to be offered, determined the direction of the event. But after, or in some cases during said “presentations,” the discussion was opened up to the audience. So not only were the attendees tasked with the conference schedule, we were able to influence the direction of the individual sessions, too…
Secondly,Â and I think most importantly, the energy was different. It was much more focused. Which seems odd to me to say. Accessibility issues have a much broader mandate than say a computer application such as Photoshop. But it’s vastly different when the core idea has virtually the same end. Being inclusion. How do we solve this one problem in an array of different circumstances? Versus how can a single solution, Photoshop for example, help with an infinite amount of results? These are two separate, yet seemingly opposite, constructs. And why I need to try and help with one has never been more clear to me.
Here’s where this is all relevant to this blog. This blog has turned way more political than I’d first intended it to be. It has evolved as I have evolved into a more engaged citizen. And I’m very grateful for the experience. But something is missing. And ever since Saturday I’ve been doing a serious rethink. Writing about issues I think are wrong headed, or much worse off aren’t receiving the attention they deserve, probably isn’t the most productive use of my time. From an instigating change perspective at least.
So I’ll be taking the advice of one Yves Engler. Being it’s far more effective for a progressive to be working towards progressive issues (being inclusivity) from the inside, where it can make a difference, rather than to be half-bitching about somewhat abstract topics from the outside and not getting involved. I’m sick of feeling like shit for not doing more.
I’ve been floating between writing for this blog more regularly and going all in to my accessibility work. I even considered doing both, for a long time. But I can’t realistically do both, and give either what I feel is justified. It’s time to grow up and choose. And I choose my accessibility work.
I’ll be stepping back from writing for this blog, not entirely, but I’llÂ be focused on other matters for the time being. Not to suggest I won’t ever post here again, just new posts will likely be few and far between. Working on accessibility issues is where I feel most comfortable and qualified to instigate change. Socially, culturally and even politically. I even participated in a session Saturday. Which was terrifying, honestly. It wasn’t a big deal, for the session. I answered two questions. But most importantly it was a giant deal for me. It even motivated a person to come up to me after and ask me further questions about my answers, knowing full well my difficulties in communicating verbally. It made me feel like a part of something important. And my voice is important.
This is where I need to be. This is where I can contribute. People take me seriously. And it feels really good…