Welcome to "The Accessible Writer”—a blog for those looking to improve their writing and awareness of accessibility in the literary world.
WHAT IS ACCESSIBILITY
I’m not going to start with a dictionary definition, but the general idea of accessibility is when
The product, service, or media is able to be used by anyone.
This is a bit limiting as it only speaks to the ability–disability spectrum. Accessibility tends to sit on its own in the lunchroom of DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion). Let’s invite it to the table.
The product, service, or media represents the needs and interests of the intended consumers or audiences.
A bit clunky, but it recognizes that
THE ACCESSIBLE WRITER
Some posts on this blog will explore the more traditional concerns surrounding accessibility. As a disabled person, it is something that has become important to me (more on that below), and something I want to tease out, particularly the place of accessibility in the arts and literary communities.
However, I am combining this concern for accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, with my passion for writing.
I want to provide new writers, established writers, and writing-enthusiasts with ideas and tips that will take this sometimes-mythologized art and bring them down to earth—in other words, make it accessible.
Posts on this blog will explore writing issues from the micro (how to write) to the big ideas of representation and trends.
Finally, as I am implicit in most of what I write, I want to present a snapshot of my journey with accessibility.
ACCESSIBILITY AND ME
For too long, accessibilty was a word I revolted against. I was born visually impaired and as I progressed through school and social interactions, accessibility meant, rightly or wrongly, "Special treatment that put a target on my back". Preferential seating in class, large-print books, high-contrast paper—I rejected it all in my quest for “normalcy”. Far too late, I realized how much I appreciated it when companies, organizations, or people intentionally or unintentionally created something that allowed me to exist in the world in the same capacity as sighted persons (equity).
I noticed this most when it came to stop announcements on public transit.
I grew up around Toronto. If you take the subway in Toronto today, you will hear a voice announcing the stop as the train pulls into each station. This was not the case in the early 2000s. Since I could not always see the sign on the wall (some were more prominent than others), I had to know the order of stops and count each stop. This was the easy part—busses were a source of frustration before stop announcements or more recently, transit apps.
When suddenly, I was able to know exactly where I was via an audio cue, navigating the world became as easy as casually using a visual landmark. Because this service was not targeted directly at me, but still benefited me, I realized that
Accessibility is universality.
In part, I want this blog to be the equivalent of suddenly having stop announcements on public transit. I want to provide insights into the literary and writing world, and insights into issues concerning inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA).
I would also like to share practical tips that I discover as I develop my freelance practice as an editor and copywriter. If any of this seems interesting, check out my other posts.
And if you have read this far,
Thank you for reading!