Eric Bailey eviscerates the notion that the term “a11y” isn’t accessible. It’s a hot take that I’ve had myself, embarrassingly enough.
I never see people asking why WWI is written out the way it is, either. Won’t people confuse that with the first Wonder Woman movie? Or the first season of Westworld? Or some new Weight Watchers product? I also never see people questioning technical numeronyms like P2P, S3, or W3C?
If you are seeing the term for the first time and are confused, it’s extremely easy to search for and figure out. There are heaping piles of examples of people using it for very legitimate sites, products, conferences, and more. It’s no more of a spell-checking foul as any other industry jargon and easy enough to ignore.
Plus, you can always introduce it with semantic HTML:
Like any other abbreviation, I observe the Web Content Accessibility Guideline’s (WCAG) Success Criterion 3.1.4. Like any other acronym or industry jargon, I spell out the term in full the first time it appears in my writing, then follow it up with the acronym it represents:
It reminds me of the term serverless. The obligatory hot take on it is that servers are still in use, but the quicker you get over it, the quicker you can get to realizing it’s a powerful industry-changing idea.
Sorry, but I don’t buy it. Acronyms and abbreviations don’t work like that. Eliminating all the “internal” letters of a word and replacing them with the number of letters that were eliminated is NOT intuitive in the slightest.
Sure, it can BECOME a commonly-recognized thing, similar to the much-maligned hamburger menu, but that doesn’t mean it’s at all intuitive. Heck, I still encounter people confused by the hamburger menu icon.
I’ve been a hard-core nerd & computer geek since I was 14, and I still cringe and have to go through mental somersaults when I run across someone using things like “a11y” or “i18n”. Use that sh*t for short names in code, not in English text.
I agree, it’s very poor communication. And to argue that it’s a simple matter to just look it up? Really? And use a different font if you find ll the same as 11? That’s ridiculous reasoning. It’s lazy, and it’s shocking coming from a field that otherwise prides itself on UX.
Everyone was explicitly taught at one point or another what WWI means, precisely because it’s not obvious, most especially because it uses highly niche symbolic representation.
For at least 2 years from the time i first encountered the written “a11y” i sincerely thought it was jargon for “ally”, because no article I ever read in that 2 years ever bothered to explain what it meant. I eventually found out in an unrelated tweet.
If that’s not a telling indicator of how bad this is for communication purposes, I don’t know what is.
Thank you for helping to prove my point, random internet men!
The problem with the examples in the explanation is that those when numerated are referencing full separate words that each begin w/ a common letter. If we are to follow that same convention then ‘A11y’ should denote 11 separate words that begine with the letter A followed by a final word that begins w/ the letter Y. So immediately the argument in this article fails from it’s own examples.
A11Y IS NOT AN ABBREVIATION LIKE THE EXAMPLES AT ALL. [redacted]
Additioanlly, if the person arguing in favor of using “a11y” as a substitute for the full word ‘acessibility’ (likely due to laziness mroe than anything) goes and does just a little bit of research, this person would learn that those people that actually rely on accessibility baked into services and products by the rest of us – do not in fact like the use of “a11y”
Bailey even makes note of this:
“I also want to avoid tone policing. This one is easy: Some disabled people don’t like the term. In this case, you don’t push them to explain their position. Modify your language and behavior to accommodate their stated preference, and feel grateful that they cared enough to tell you. Easy.”
Ironically stating that the subset of disabled people that have an issue with the use of the term need to be catered to differently those those that accept the usage of ther term. Which in turn defeats the purpose of making something accesible in the first place. Amd how does a developer distinguish between one user that does not like the terminology and another that is okay with it … write some code that applies an accessible toggle switch for the user to choose between the full word and the bda abbreviation ? Might as well simply write out the word and be done with it.
Also if a developer is having issues w/ retyping a word over and over again, several things here: why are you a developer, that’s how things work, we type stuff; secondly, use and editor where you can apply global styles, modify autocomplete options, there are a ton of ways to not have to write out the full word and still actually have the full word spelled out.
Shouldn’t the opinion of the disabled community have more weight than what is comfortable for the developers ? Developers are forcing a term onto another class of citizens without their consent. Full hypocrasy.
This is no different than any other control group in history applying a label to a subculture because it’s comfortable for the controlling group, who gives a damn about the receiving group’s opinion, because they’re being provided a service and should be grateful ? That logic has been applied to all sorts of minority groups through the years far more extreme than this situation, but the logic is still relevant.