How to win every argument

Are you the kind of developer that includes in-depth accessibility evaluation and improvements into all your work, even when it isn’t an explicit priority?

What happens when you are challenged on the value of doing this work? Do you employ legal, moral or commercial arguments? And how do you balance your desire to do the right thing well and to get the thing shipped?

In the past, I would act immediately and ask permission later for this kind of thing. But I’m a middle-class white man, so I can get away with a certain degree of disobedience that others may not.

As a leader, you’re in a good position to start a conversation about priorities like this, so that the argument doesn’t need to be held each and every time.

The World Wide Web Consortium have set a specific Priority of Constituencies. It’s short:

In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementors over specifiers over theoretical purity. In other words costs or difficulties to the user should be given more weight than costs to authors; which in turn should be given more weight than costs to implementors; which should be given more weight than costs to authors of the spec itself, which should be given more weight than those proposing changes for theoretical reasons alone. Of course, it is preferred to make things better for multiple constituencies at once.

Of course, this is tailored to the audiences that the W3C serves. Yours will be different.

What’s the priority of constituencies for your work? Is it implicit or explicit? Shared or personal?

All the best,

– Jim

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