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Wrong expectations

3 minutes read

I used to make this terrible mistake. In hindsight, it was a mistake of course. At the time, I thought it completely normal and natural.

There's the saying, "treat others as you would like them to treat you." So that's what I do. I answer emails and requests on time and politely. I keep my promises, and don't go back on my word, sometimes at my own expense. I double check important documents for accuracy, for typos, for wrong information. Everything was just natural and I thought this is the way to do business and this is the way to be a good human.

Then I turned around and expected everyone else to do the same. And got hella mad when they didn't. Yesterday, I received documents for me to sign that had an important date wrong. The date was in the past! Ugh, such a blatant disregard of doing their job! They were lazy and mistyped it, or copy pasted from another document they used in the past. Result: I got angry. The nerve of these people, right? Don't they have systems in place? Don't they fact check?

The truth is, it's an easy mistake to make.

And that's where the rub is. I shouldn't expect everyone to be like me, to treat everything with the same attention just because that's what I do. I probably make loads of mistakes that I never pay attention to and others spot immediately. (It didn't take too long for me to remember one from earlier this week)

This reminded me of all the instances in the past when I proclaimed accessibility to be the end all be all. If I think it's a human right, if I treat it as a priority, if I think about it first and foremost before diving into design or code, then it's only normal, it's expected, that others will do the same.

Except they don't. Other people have other priorities and no amount of screaming will bring about the change I want to see. The myth is that if we can just make the importance of accessibility sufficiently clear and describe it with enough urgency, people will fall in line and change will occur.

But it won't. You can't expect other people to treat your priorities as their own.

And that's ok. It doesn't mean accessibility isn't an important topic to discuss and raise awareness about.

It just means not everyone will accept that message. But the ones that do will win.

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