Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Listen to the A11y Rules Podcast.

Conversation with Josh Simmons

I spoke with Joshua Simmons for the A11y Rules Podcast. Joshua is on the Google Open Source Outreach Team and also sits on the Open Source Initiative Board of Directors. He had a lot of interesting things to say about web accessibility.

You can listen to the 1st part of the interview on the A11y Rules Podcast Patreon post, and you can also listen to the 2nd part of the interview.

Some highlights


Josh also shared with us that he has ADHD, and that for him, the best websites are the ones with a clean layout and without many bells and whistles.

Moral imperative

Josh was speaking about a moral imperative for accessibility. He explained that:

The people that we keep in mind when we build things or the people that we don’t think about when we build things, benefit or suffer at the hands of our design decisions.

If I run a popular web service that a lot of people end up using, but isn’t accessible for the 10% of the population, then I’m in a position where a lot of people have an advantage over that 10% of the population because they’re able to use this tool. It’s a matter of erecting artificial barriers when we create imperfect products that aren’t accessible.

I feel like it’s a matter of equality. I feel like it’s a matter of inclusivity. To not keep accessibility in mind and to design things accessibly is to shut people out and disadvantage them.

Not a feature

A one-liner I found particularly interesting was when Josh said:

Accessibility is not a feature. Lack of accessibility is a bug!

Adding accessibility to the curriculum

We were talking about the importance of teaching accessibility. Josh said that

All these people learning to do web and software development in bootcamps, and schools and tutorials, it’s important that accessibility is in the curriculum and it’s pitched as something that’s necessary.