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Speed and direction (continued)

3 minutes read

Following my email on speed and direction, I got a few comments back. Many are arguing speed is important, perhaps most important.

I thought I'd address these arguments, because there really are legitimate instances when speed can come first. I see two, off the top of my head.

1. Emergencies

In case of emergencies such as critical bugs affecting your product, taking swift action is a must. For example, if your users can't login because of a bug you recently introduced, you'll want to fix that immediately to prevent disruption to your service. In these cases, prioritizing rapid fixes ensures that your users can continue accessing essential services.

While emergencies warrant a need for speed, it's crucial not to lose sight of the overarching direction of accessibility efforts. Your rushed fixes might alleviate immediate issues, but could potentially introduce new barriers for people with disabilities. Always come back after the initial fix and identify any barriers.

2. Certain markets

In highly competitive markets where being first is everything, speed often becomes the ultimate currency. This first mover advantage can be substantial, offering you an opportunity to establish brand loyalty, capture market share, and set industry standards.

Careful though not to use innovation as an excuse for not having to deal with accessibility. Overlooking accessibility perpetuates discrimination and exclusion, denying people with disabilities equal access to digital resources and services.

Do I have to mention the negative publicity that will result from an inaccessible product? You might get the product out first, but was it worth it on the long run if you lost the consumer's trust?

Generally speaking, speed becomes a reason to settle for lower quality. We use the lack of time as an excuse to postpone things that matter for later - always for later.

If the argument is, "we're running out of time," why is this a surprise? We know exactly how much time there is left at any given point of a project. The day always has 24 hours and there are always 7 days in a week. You can't invent more hours, more days, stretch time or condense it either. These numbers are 100% predictable and they never change.

Still, we're always surprised when we get close to the finish line and the clock seems to run out.

So yes, there are legitimate use cases where speed is justified. The problem is when we allow this need for speed to squeeze into everything we do. Because that's when you take shortcuts and that's when accessibility suffers.

Did you enjoy this bite-sized message?

I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

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