There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand.” It’s a good approach to take when you’re in charge of training people to become accessible content creators.
When I first started training content creators I was simply teaching how to make documents accessible in Word or PDF format. I realised over time the correlation between the increased consistency in positive workshop feedback and my adoption of an empathetic approach in the teaching. This approach was subconscious and simply an outcome of the refinement of words I used to deliver messages around each topic. It came to be that I often found find myself asking trainees to “put themselves in the end user’s shoes”, or explaining what would happen for end users if the content creator didn’t take the accessibility approach. There were plenty more ‘light bulb’ moments in the workshops than previously.
To give a workshop example, let’s look at headings. It’s pretty common knowledge that there are six heading levels to utilise and these will be announced by screen readers as they are reached. If a content creator jumps from a heading one directly to a three, then an explanation is given to the trainees how the end user may think they’ve missed something and will try to go back in the document and find the heading two section… which was never created in the first place.
So rather than just teach how to do something we need to teach why we do it.
Using empathy is an integral part to accessible content training and in doing so, we trainers can be more confident that we are sending better-prepared accessible content creators out into the real world.
Article Author: Allayne Woodford, MAA Accessibility Service Manager