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Thoughts on accessibility in smol computing

What follows is my attempt to spark a conversation in a few converging, but separate communities I lurk in.

I’ve already had a bunch of amazing conversations around this topic with a lot of people. Those conversations helped to shape what follows. Thanks to everyone who was willing to think this stuff through with me.

Before I get into it I want to say at the top this isn’t meant as an accusation against anyone in these communities, nor the goals of the various projects. This is intended to add a new layer to the existing considerations and to see if the goals of these projects can be expanded to include, or consider, accessibility.

I want to open a conversation about accessibility in this space.

I think it is an important consideration mostly left out of our community’s conversations.

I think it’s an important conversation for a variety of reasons —

Facet, ignoring it tacitly implies there isn’t space for folks who rely on assistive tech in our community, that they can’t contribute and aren’t imagined to matter in the future.

Facet, we often look back in time to older devices, implementations and implementers. For many of them the concerns of capitalism placed constraints on what they could achieve. We’re speculating about a post-capitalist ecosystem…as such, we have an opportunity to think outside of those confines. Thinking about accessibility invites us to look forward while also pulling inspiration from the past. We have constraints, they’re a different looking set than the ones on things like the apple 2, we needn’t let those constraints define our future.

Before I turn the conversation over I want to set a few core assumptions:

  • accessibility is more than screen readers
  • disability is something that takes a variety of forms, it is something some folks live with forever, it is something that visits some other folks briefly
  • disability can compound; sometimes we need to consider more than 1 disability at a time
  • disability can be visible, disability can be invisible

A first instinct may be to think of accessibility as a technical problem that needs a solution. I’d suggest that it might be an opportunity to reframe how we approach the idea itself; from accessibility to adaptability. Adaptability of methodology, problem solving, software, and devices.