The problem is not accessibility, it's the process

Let's put it bluntly: The way accessibility is implemented today, it is expensive, suboptimal and we may not see any resounding successes for many years. Now it costs money, mainly because it has been overslept for decades. More than 30 years ago, the USA - under a conservative government by the way - committed large parts of the private sector to accessibility. There are also many problems in the USA, but Germany is still far behind. Although we know that we need many 10,000 accessible apartments and houses, although the aging population depends on step-free access to culture and transport, although many medical practices are not accessible, relatively little is happening.

The cause of the problem seems relatively clear to me. It's not the accessibility per se, but the way the processes are designed.

An example: An authority wants to create a brochure. Person X writes the text, agency Y creates a printable PDF on it, agency Y makes it accessible. The PDF, which has been optimized for printing and is reasonably accessible, is then placed on the Internet. So banal, so stupid. If you went one step earlier and designed the document using a flexible language like XML, you could optimize the document for print, for the website, and for download in one step. I'm a self-confessed PDF hater, but even I would be fine with such a process. Only sighted people believe in perfectly accessible PDFs, they don't have to use them.

Or: Authority prints out form, blind person has to fill it out with external help and send it to authority, authority scans it.

Another example: There is a set of corona rules. Once the full set was translated into plain language, and sign language and made available to countries, lawmakers could publish the exact rules in those formats that apply in their respective territories. Instead, little to nothing is implemented in understandable formats - the argument, money. But there is a human right to understandable information.

The core message of every accessibility lecture is: think about accessibility right from the start. In my experience, this is rarely heeded. Maybe we should change our message like this: Rethink your processes in such a way that accessibility is always taken into account and considered right from the start.

Similar to digitization, the problem is probably related to the fact that large organizations and especially the public sector find it extremely difficult to tackle existing processes in a destructive manner, i.e. to completely rethink them. There are no diligence points for accessibility and there are also no Oscars for having invested a lot of money. The result counts.

As a result, accessibility is violated hundreds of times a day. Tender documents must be accessible, but in many cases they are still not, because the programs used cannot create accessible PDFs. I can't even count the number of times I get protected PDF or scanned images that the screen reader can't read.

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