As Disability Pride Month draws to a close, it’s essential to reflect on the significance of accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Allow me to share a heartwarming experience from last year when I met Santa in Rovaniemi, Finland. This encounter beautifully illustrates the importance of going beyond mere compliance.
As you see in the photo of me with Santa above, his long beard obscured his lips, making lipreading challenging for me as a deaf person. As you can imagine, it made me feel nervous. As soon as my turn came, I quickly conveyed my preference for text communication to his elf, who kindly relayed my message to Santa. I approached Santa with the expectation of a simple photo.
What happened next surprised me. Santa communicated with me through writing, creating a meaningful interaction and, most importantly, putting me at ease. He went beyond compliance, making my experience as a deaf visitor enjoyable. Santa didn’t focus on legalities or minimum compliance. Instead, he showed how genuinely he cared about a deaf visitor – by listening and following my request. Check out the video of his interaction with me.
What can your business learn from Santa:
This encounter shows a valuable lesson for your business: genuine care for disabled customers makes all the difference. Accessibility isn’t just about fulfilling legal obligations. It’s a continuous journey that involves the entire team, subject matter experts, and, most importantly, the disabled community. Starting with awareness and implementing customized strategies for each business and project is essential.
As I’ve discussed in my previous posts about ADA:
- “Nothing about us without us“: Emphasizing the importance of including disabled individuals in the decision-making process, ensuring their voices are heard.
- “Accessibility starts with awareness and strategy“: Discussing how building awareness and a strategic approach are fundamental to successful accessibility initiatives.
- “My perspective on ADA 30th-anniversary as a deaf consultant“: Offering my unique perspective as a deaf accessibility consultant on the 30th anniversary of the ADA.
- “Plato’s quote regarding accessibility“: Exploring Plato’s timeless wisdom in the context of accessibility.
Santa’s empathetic approach teaches us that accessibility should go beyond mere compliance. It’s about empathy and creating an environment where everyone feels welcome.
Learn from Santa’s example and make accessibility an integral part of our businesses, fostering a more inclusive and compassionate society.
The key takeaway is to be proactive. Don’t wait for quick fixes – prioritize accessibility now. Engage accessibility experts and involve disabled users throughout the process to create products and services that genuinely embrace inclusivity.
Christmas may be only 5 months away, but time flies faster than you realize. Does your business want to get on Santa’s nice list by the end of this year? Get started with accessibility now by hiring accessibility experts.
If your business is looking for a consulting session, workshop, training, or a speaker on accessibility, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m happy to work with you on improving accessibility strategies for your web, media, and events.