Kindness, Mental Health and Global Accessibility Awareness

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is 'kindness' and at a time like this, it’s difficult to imagine a more apt theme.

Laptop screen saying Be KindWhen most people think of kindness at the moment during the Coronavirus pandemic, their thoughts invariably turn to frontline healthcare staff, emergency services, keyworkers and the incredible, inspirational and often humbling stories about people going the extra mile. You might also think of the smaller acts, the individual gestures that are no less important to people, getting shopping for a neighbour, the message to friends or family to check how they’re doing, or helping a relative to get online.

But kindness doesn't have to be about the conscious outgoing gesture, it can simply be about the removal of friction, the choice that makes life less difficult for another person. It’s the decision to step off the pavement to give someone else room, the wearing of a mask regardless of your personal beliefs, because it makes someone else less uncomfortable.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Thursday 21 May 2020

This philosophy extends into technology and accessibility and with Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) also taking place this Thursday 21st May 2020, there are parallels between the philosophy of kindness and the goals of accessibility. Accessibility is about making things available to everyone, it’s not about disability, it’s about consideration for others and the striving for universality.  

There isn't really any excuse for not building accessible websites.

There are lots of free pieces of tech that can check to see if your site is as accessible as it could be. WAVE is just one example. If you want to demonstrate the business case for making a site accessible (and you shouldn't really have to) read Robin Christopherson's blog from 2016. Accessibility doesn't just relate to websites, though. Meetings need to be made accessible too, and you can find out via our recent webinar recording how to make your meeting as accessible as possible to everybody.

To approach accessibility by stating that you will willingly make content available for anyone who says they need it is not being accessible, it’s the equivalent of striding down the middle of the pavement saying you'll move out of the way if anyone asks you to. Accessible should be our default.

Comedian Adam Hill and The Last Leg TV programme have a phrase that could be our new global mantra; “Don’t be a d**k”! Or should that be the more utopian Bill and Ted’s proclamation to; “Be excellent to each other”?

Further resources