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The weekly 1%: Thinking in absolutes

2 minutes read

This week I was reminded of the danger of thinking in absolutes. I'm a Star Wars fan myself and this rings true:

Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

And yes, this is an absolute in itself (would we call that irony?). Words like "only," "always," "never," "every," "totally," "without exception," etc will tell you that the next statement is an absolute. And you would do well to pay attention.

Why am I telling you this? There was a discussion on LinkedIn about accessibility statements. A few people chipped in and said you should ALWAYS use a lawyer to review an accessibility statement. Note how they said you should always use a lawyer, not that they always used a lawyer. This felt a bit weird to me. I asked for clarification, but didn't get any.

And I started to ask myself if I needed a lawyer to review the accessibility statement on my website. I ultimately decided against it because my business isn't what you would call a target, it would be quite expensive at my level and I care more about the language being user friendly than having the right legalese on my website. Now honestly if I think about it, I can't understand why I wasted some many mental cycles on a non-issue like this.

It also got me thinking of other absolutes we come across in the accessibility field. Here are just a few examples of more controversial statements:

  • Accessibility audits are useless (the always is implied)
  • Manual testing is always better than automated testing
  • Every image must have alt text
  • Only accessibility experts can review and fix accessibility issues
  • Our service ensures your site is accessible to absolutely everyone
  • Our tool guarantees 100% WCAG compliance
  • Our overlay solution fixes all accessibility issues
  • We offer foolproof protection against lawsuits

I'm guilty of this as well. I try to control what I say, but we all know that's not always possible. There's that word again - always :)

Here's a better approach and my 1% this week.

Take what you read, especially online, with a grain of salt. Think for yourself and see if it applies to your situation. Be willing to be wrong and be willing to change your mind. Re-evaluate when your situation changes.

And if you want to read my accessibility statement that's not been reviewed by a lawyer, you can do so on my website.

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