Let's play a game. You're a UX professional with "#a11y advocate" in your title. A disabled woman lays out her concerns with your software's UI contrasts, rendering it unusable for her. What do you do?
Reality: the disabled woman gets mocked, belittled and harrassed by two grown-ass white cishet men who accuse her of ignoring all the hard work they've already put into #a11y.
The truth is that these seasoned professionals feel entitled to scream their personal frustration to a person online, accuse them of ignoring their feelings and their work, while totally erasing the initial point: #a11y is still globally insufficient for a LOT of people.
If you can't deal with user feedback, especially a disabled user speaking about her impossibility to use your software, if you can't leave your ego home, if you can't understand systemic oppressions, ableism and power dynamics, consider another career choice than #a11y and UX.
Through this sad story of a woman expressing her extreme fatigue with lack of #a11y being bullied by two white cishet able-bodied "UX and a11y advocates", we also have yet another proof of the unbearable space taken up by these bros.
Instead of leading to the right actions (escalating the issue to solve it asap, conduct user tests if needed, apologise to the person affected), the debate has derailed to cater to their immense egos. Dozens of people have had to point out their disgusting behaviour and suffer their unapologetic justifications to why they were entitled to bully this woman.
As a result, ONCE MORE:
1) the voice and reality of a disabled woman in tech have been belittled and erased,
2) the initial point (too many users can't perform the simplest tasks on the web because of lack of accessibility) has been lost in limbo
3) white men are still egotistic assholes taking up too much precious space for themselves.
The utter confidence, the nerves, the total legitimity, the profound misunderstanding of disability and oppressions... the shameless, dirty privilege. These men have been notoriously showing up their egos for years, they've been in countless DM convos trying to negociate, influence, avoid public apologies. I am beyong disgusted, once again.
How to make an apology:
- you don't apologise, you lay out an apology: it's up to the victim to accept it or not,
- you can't justify your reaction with what the victim has said or done,
- the apology can't gaslight the victim ("sorry if you felt offended").
- no apology at all is better than a half-assed one.
AVOID these at all costs:
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“I’m sorry I said that, but I never would have if you hadn’t behaved the way you did.”
“I was stressed out!” (or tired...or hungry...)
“I said I’m sorry already, why can’t you just let it go?”
“I was reacting to...”
“I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“I may have done this, but you did that!”
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