In April this year I stepped away from the Perth Accessibility Meetup group after having guided the group from it’s formation a few years ago.
Originally this group was a causal networking affair, allowing for web accessibility practitioners to meet and discuss all things involved with the inclusive and accessible design.
Now I feel I owe the community an explanation as to why I stepped down suddenly.
Getting to the Reasons
The Perth Accessibility Meetup wasn’t a difficult group to maintain, in it’s previous format, it was just a matter of promoting it a little, booking the venue and getting up early – okay this bit was hard.
In February and March I had just organized and run the first Perth Accessibility Camp. Which, from feedback, seem to go very well, allowing a good deal of people to network with others who had the same issues. Still it was tiring, and caused me a drop the ball on a few critical business opportunities.
Business wise I was finding that the demand for quality accessibility consulting was waning, despite a growing requirement from the market, but it wasn’t translating into sales.
As a primary breadwinner for my family this was not good. The reasons why things were not working are numerous, most are better discussed over a beer, than here.
Frankly I didn’t have the time to focus on community volunteer work the group required to move forward. This became very evident from the Accessibility Camp.
The main issue was also more one of basic business survival was not being met, I was just too busy helping people with no return.
Time to Change
Also the group was generally stagnating, and not going anywhere, in fact the numbers were dropping. I think the issue really was me. So time for a change.
By sheer mistake, one morning I slept in and missed the month’s meetup completely, and you know what it felt good, like a burden had been lifted.
That said everything to me. So I stepped away.
One thing I think the incoming team should be very aware of is rotating the presenters around. Having one or two people presenting all the time can get very boring and a little self-promotional.
Leaving is Hard
You know I am sad about this, but I have to be a business realist, accessibility consultation wasn’t paying enough to be viable, without selling our house and moving into a cardboard box.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop waving the accessibility banner, yeah I’ll still be there if a client needs accessibility consulting. It’s just I’m not going to be an active community component like I used to be.
I’ll leave the accessibility cause to my colleagues and inspirational community leaders such as Scott Hollier, Ruth Ellison, Lisa Herrod, Derek Featherstone and Roger Hudson, they are just tireless in their commitment; when I grow up I want to have their energy.
I guess I have also lost my faith in accessibility, particularly when locally in WA , we have a Government that are just paying lip service to WCAG 2 compliance at a senior management level.
For the immediate future I need to focus on Customer and User Experience consulting, as they do bring in money, and at least cover the basics like putting food on the table.
I maybe back; I have no idea when, only the future knows.
Thankyou people for indulging me, the ride was wonderful.