If you follow me on Insta, you’ll know I use the phrase as a regular sign-off, and for good reason. I’ve learned so much since I first started in the field of document accessibility, and I’m still amazed at where the journey has taken me so far.
I’ve met some brilliant people along the way and watched and listened to countless hours of wisdom on the subject. I’ve also sat in front of my computer for way too long figuring out issues as they arose, sometimes holding myself back from throwing my computer out the window. It’s a bittersweet relationship sometimes but it does get easier, trust me!
I’ve also spoken to people who are also starting out, wondering just where to begin, and asking themselves what have I gotten myself into? If you’re reading this, you may be feeling the same. The good news is, you’re on the right track, and please know the changes you make daily can help so many more people than you think at the same time.
All it takes is one step
When I was starting, document accessibility felt like a massive obstacle I wasn’t sure how to approach, especially on the grand scale that it was required. I was brought on in a production capacity and was thrust into this new world which, to be honest, confused the hell out of me at the start.
I had no idea. I started with a few courses covering the basics and then hit the ground running. Looking back, I think it was more of a walking pace… but I was still moving. These gave me a good knowledge base and one which I built on significantly over the years. The key was to just keep implementing as much as I knew at the time and keep on going.
If I knew then what I know now
Isn’t it always the way? Thinking back on some of the more complex projects, I’m kicking myself as to how much time, and energy (and a few expletives) I could have saved by doing things a little differently. (To be fair, technology and programs have come a long way also).
And that’s not to say I don’t still have those moments. And I’ll let you in on a secret… Everyone still does.
But there is always something new to learn, the opportunities are endless. It could be a new area you aren’t familiar with yet, or dealing with technology changes when the programs are a bit slower to catch up. It never ends, but it also never stops you from feeling a degree of satisfaction in producing something everyone can access.
After I went out on my own, I started paying more attention to the multitude of sources online offering up advice on various aspects of document accessibility. I joined up with a few online communities out there which still are a source of support. And I’ve followed various people who are kind enough to impart thy wisdom to the world on the subject, all to make the world a more accessible place.
This wisdom is still teaching me so much and reminds me I’m not alone in the journey. And in fact, no one is. If you’re one of the only (or the only) accessibility champions in your organisation, it may feel like a lonely place but there is always help around.
Stick with it
That’s what I want to tell you. I know accessibility can feel overwhelming, trust me, I’ve been there. But then you take the first step, start to get the hang of it, then the process becomes second nature. Plus, by listening to others, you will pick up a stack of tips along the way which will help you create documents quicker and easier.
Anyone can start the journey, and the more the better. Whether it be on the small scale in everyday personal life to being the accessibility champion for a major corporate. Something is better than nothing.
Over the years, I’ve equally loved document accessibility and been frustrated by it on numerous occasions. I love a good challenge and I love that there is always something new to learn.
What I can say is I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If this sounds all too familiar, please drop me a line at KC & the Graphics Bandwagon. Help is only a call or a click away.