Being accessible

I’d like to think I’m an easy-going kind of guy, but I probably have my own shell of reserve within which I feel comfortable. But two components of accessibility have intrigued me over the past few days, and in exploring this matter I’ve discovered that readers’ access to content and to meaning may not be as easy as I’d have liked.

I like poetry that I can understand, for example. I don’t mind working through words and phrases to find a meaning, but I think that artifice and grand-standing get in the way rather. For me, poetry should create a shared feeling between poet and reader. So my poetic efforts have tended to err on the accessibility side, making things so plain and clear that perhaps the poesy has been lost. I’ve been looking at the poems chosen from hundreds of submissions for the December 2021 issue of VisualVerse.org for example. So many efforts that just seem impenetrable to my ageing mind!

Or maybe that’s just sour grapes, since my own submission, a paean to our neighbour’s old horse Plough, was so plain, so obvious. I love Plough, and that’s what I wrote. No artifice. But my little hour-long labour of love was not published. Never mind, I thought, it made our beloved neighbour cry, and I was able to explain that the piece has a fulcrum point, where the poem really becomes a personal recognition that I too am getting old. That I too may not have much time left.

So, considering that every month a new visual stimulus appears on the ‘Curved House’ platform that serves VisualVerse.org, I sucked it up and tried again for January ’22. Think trickily, I admonished my poetic self, and for what it’s worth, my little effort made it to the first tranche of pieces selected this month. It is a kind of personal milestone, given that I’ve never had a poem chosen by any editors for anything, before. Except for a much-appreciated indulgence by a friend of mine in a local publication. Both pieces have found their way into this blog’s Writing Archive, naturally enough.

In a slightly different take on accessibility, I publicised this blog locally, the other day, eliciting some 50 new views. I was intrigued to see what browsers might click on, but I soon realised that the layout of the home page/landing page seemed to conspire against further interaction,. I thought, I’m not making this accessible enough, so this morning I added a succinct menu line at the top, which had somehow been missed as I worked with the theme. Time will tell whether this extra layer of accessibility will elicit more clicks.

It seems that for some purposes, full-on accessibility is a crucial component of communication, while for others a little bit of effort is a prerequisite. Odd that.

By Larry Winger

Retired scientist, devoted diarist (AllendaleDiary.org), community-minded aspirant novelist, I've lived on a smallholding in the East Allen Valley for the past 30 years, delighting in watching our family grow up, in experiencing the development of our grandsons, and in taking care of our small flock of chickens and garden.

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