Agreed… it sucks that it’s not airtable that’s on the hook and instead institutions and companies that chose to use or base their products on airtable, or other inaccessible tech. Hence why all entities should have “accessibility review” as part of their technology adoption/procurement processes.
Yes, that’s the curve.
When accessibility was new (15 years ago) almost no one took it into account when building their products. Generally those extant companies/products started taking this all seriously 5 to 10 years ago. However, it’s still not unheard of for startups to ignore accessibility while trying to prove their business model. Problem is that more and more large buyers ARE considering accessibility conformance. Hence, accessibility is becoming a business case. I’m part of a movement building accessibility review processes and tools for higher ed, where lawsuits are rampant (see the recent MIT/Harvard/California Community Colleges/California State University/etc. cases and settlements).
There will likely NEVER be a product that 100% PREVENTS a content creator from doing something inaccessible. That should not be on the product manufacturer if they have given the content creator the tools to make their output accessible. For example when Word/Excel didn’t provide the option for graphics alternate text, it was on Microsoft. Now that the feature is there, any inaccessible document, due to lack of alternate text, is on the content creator - especially since Office also provides a built-in accessibility checker.
You’re raising a false dichotomy fallacy. Yes, I agree that it’s hard to have a 100% accessible product. But you can say the same thing about information security. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have a 100% secure information technology product. Every additional “9” increase, e.g., 99.99999%., after a certain point, doubles the cost. However, there are vast resources spent on information security, plenty of government and industry standards, and no one questions their value or the value of getting as close as possible.
No one is paying huge settlements for failing to meet esoteric AAA level standards. They are in trouble for the BASICS, lack of keyboard accessibility, lack of alt-text, lack of captioning, lack of structure/navigation tags, bad-contrast, etc.
dbase, like the PC revolution itself, and airtable (if you’re saying its adoption in enterprises is similar) are examples of niche markets that went viral because of their perceived business value. Paradigm shifts usually comes from OUTSIDE the mainstream, in this case, Enterprise IT. The problems arise when those products then move into enterprise level processes where they introduce information security, reliability, availability, capacity, and accessibility., risks. Businesses have to weigh the value of such innovations while maintaining adequate controls to protect themselves and their stakeholders.
The risk we manage is not just to us financially/legally, but to real people with disabilities who end up being excluded from educational opportunities because someone built and made available, often for free, an “attractive nuisance” that some faculty member, unwitting of the issues, adopts for their course.
I work with A LOT of manufacturers of IT products. Airtable’s response was at the lower end of the curve of responsibility for, and interest in, accessibility. It reminds me of a lot of companies I worked with 10 years ago. If they were more responsive and committed we would probably allow some use of it, assuming that improvements would be forthcoming. But the low level of compliance and their attitude doesn’t let us do that.
Lastly, I recently got a call from a company, that I had pushed on accessibility a few years ago. They called to thank me because their primary market was higher ed, they hadn’t really understood the important of accessibility, and after I pushed them, they started getting more and more demands for accessibility - which they wouldn’t have been prepared to meet if I hadn’t pushed them. They were thanking me for helping their business outcomes. That was cool.