On August 16th, I wrote a blog post titled Website Accessibility. The post detailed a research paper I had written for an English class, which I had enrolled in over the summer, titled “The Importance of Website Accessibility in an Increasingly Digital Society: Why The Official Websites of Legally Recognized Businesses Should be Required to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as Maintained by The World Wide Web Consortium”.
In the post, I detail how I chose my topic thinking I would have a bit of a challenge, but still have no problem maintaining a good grade for the class. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, and wanted to keep the topic something close to my heart. I develop websites for a living – talking about the need for those website to be accessible is natural to me.
While I did end up getting an A on the paper (and the professor even requested a digital copy to share with future classes – 🤯), the topic was incredibility challenging for me, for a couple of reasons. The first was that my original topic “The Importance of Website Accessibility” is incredibly broad. Yes, website accessibility is important, but when you have two weeks to research a topic and write an academic paper on it, it helps to be a bit more specific. So I decided to focus on “Why the Official Websites of Legally Recognized Businesses Should be Required to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as Maintained by The World Wide Web Consortium”.
While narrowing down my topic to something as specific as businesses needing to meet certain accessibility guidelines, I still found that I had an issue: I wanted to be as thorough and specific as possible, to present the most air-tight case I possibility could, to convince my audience that more regulation in this area would be better for everyone.
You see, I don’t think anyone would really ever argue that people of all ability levels should be able to use the web and have similar experiences, but there is a thing that a decent percentage of the population (at least here in the United States) tends to really dislike: “Big Government” putting additional regulations on businesses. (For anyone outside of the United States, this is a pretty strong belief held by Republicans, who tend to be in favor of a smaller government, with less regulations.) Without getting too deep into politics, I understand both points of view when it comes to the “Big Government” vs “Small Government” argument, but still whole-heartedly believe that even with “Small Government”, the ability of all people to be able to enjoy the same web experience, given how digital our society has become, is something everyone should be able to agree on. Unfortunately, given the cost of developing websites, and the added cost that accessibility can add to that, I just don’t trust that the majority of businesses would self-regulate and make accessibility a priority (consider, if you will, the number of businesses that have yet to adopt decent responsive, mobile-friendly websites), and therefore I definitely believe there needs to be some sort of regulation in place.
To say that I have way more information than I could have possibility fit into my 12-page paper would be an understatement. Even in the short amount of time I was given to research the topic, I ended up filling a 4-inch binder with legal papers, court documents, various laws and their amendments, and of course the research of others. I was able to cherry pick the best parts of what I had compiled, and write a paper that was worthy of a passing grade, but the entire time I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
Going into the class period where I handed in my final paper, I told myself “as long as you pass (as in, with a D) you’ll be fine (to pass the class)”. I was convinced that the research I had done was subpar and incomplete. Even after receiving my graded paper, and my final grade in the class (both of which were A’s) I I still felt like I didn’t do the topic justice. And I have continued to feel that way in the months since my class ended.
As I wrote in my pervious blog post, I definitely want to revise and expand my paper, and do it the justice I truly think it lacked in it’s initial incarnation. Luckily, I will be getting that chance sooner than later. Every year, I try to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, held annually in November), and usually struggle to write much of anything, let alone anything worth reading or letting anyone else read. However, instead of spinning my wheels for yet another year, and getting no where, I decided to dedicate this year’s month of writing to revisiting my research.
While not technically a novel, I definitely believe the amount of information I have to convey, could easily make the paper look like one; but more than trying to write a novel on Website Accessibility, I want to use this year’s NaNoWriMo to jump start my revisions, and to take a deeper dive into my research. This may not be fully completed for months, but if I am unable to set aside the time every now and then, it will never be done.
So let this be my official announcement – I will be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and my topic will be the revision and further research of my initial essay “The Importance of Website Accessibility in an Increasingly Digital Society: Why The Official Websites of Legally Recognized Businesses Should be Required to Meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as Maintained by The World Wide Web Consortium”.
Wish me luck!