Broadly speaking, it’s best not to disable buttons or inputs. Instead we can allow data entry and provide helpful error text (either inline on-the-go or on form submission).

HTML buttons and inputs accept a Boolean disabled attribute. This stops the element from receiving events like clicks and keyboard focus. Browsers usually present the button or input as greyed out.

Some reasons not to disable an element

  • A sighted user may be able can see greyed out element is greyed out, but might not know why.
  • A sighted user might see the button as clickable and be confused when it doesn’t respond.
  • A low vision user might not…


I recently got around to reading Sheri Byrne-Haber’s very excellent “Giving A Damn About Accessibility” handbook. Here are some of my key takeaways.

  • Discriminating against People with Disabilities (PwD) is ableist and unethical. “Is it okay to make software that [any given group] can’t use?” No!
  • Saying inaccessible software only impacts a small number of users is emotional compensation for an ethics violation.
  • “PwD aren’t part of our target market” is a circular logical fallacy.
  • Not fixing things now builds up accessibility debt since the standards are becoming more complex, detailed, and strict.
  • How do we solve this problem?
  • Reward…


Here are some things I try to watch out for in meetings.

  • 1️⃣ One conversation at a time. We want all the content of the meeting to be relevant to all the people in the meeting.
  • 🏠 Pay extra attention to remote people. We want to involve them regularly.
  • Have breaks if the meeting is more than an hour. We ideally want (short!) breaks every half an hour.
  • ⏲️ End on time. If we don’t cover everything, we set a fresh meeting for later.

See also: Five tips for better meetings

Originally published at https://naga.co.za on April 19, 2021.


The 25th March is World Retrospective Day. I’ve just had my annual performance review at work. I thought I’d combine bits from both on the subject of “strategic pessimism.”

Arrows going around and away from the Happy Path

I got some great feedback from my colleagues as part of my review. But one thing surprised me: people thought of me as positive. I didn’t think of myself that way. I see myself as a pessimist. Not a doom-and-gloom, everything is terrible, kind of pessimist. A strategic pessimist: it’s a good idea to be aware of what might go wrong, so we can plan for it, and keep it in…


Last week I took some days off and (virtually) attended axe-con, Deque’s conference for building accessible experiences. I picked a few talks to watch and made sketchnotes.

I usually learn a lot from conferences. The problem for me tends to be trimming the list down to something actionable and achievable 😬. For axe-con, I’ve picked three things to do:

  • Counter “we don’t have time to cater to special needs” by focusing on the core human need. E.g. “Eating is not a special need!”
  • Make an a11y Acceptance Criteria library (maybe using the Given / When / Then format).
  • Use the coach model instead of the Subject Matter Expert model: it implies teaching and training, and transferring of skills.

Day one

Here are my sketchnotes:

Sketchnotes from “difference drives innovation and disability inclusion benefits us all“"”. My top takeaway: counter “we don’t have time to cater to special needs“ by focusing on the core human need. “Eating is not a special need!“


I’ve just finished working my way through “Scrum Master Workbook Part 1”. It’s really well paced and there was lots to learn.

Here are some of the things that I’ve picked up and am either doing already or have a concrete plan to start doing soon.

Things for me to do for myself

After every meeting, do a tiny mini-retro on my own. Look at:

  • was it valuable;
  • whether people (including myself) were paying attention;
  • what I might change.

Every month do a Proactive vs Reactive retro to see:

  • balance or proactive vs reactive actions;
  • what low value things can be stopped or delegated;
  • what high value…


As part of UX South Africa 2020, I contributed to a short thank you video for Don Norman, who was speaking at the conference.

Here’s the final compilation video:

And here’s my 45 second video:

The video has embedded captions. Here’s the transcript:

Don Norman broke my brain. In a good way.

I started my career as a front-end developer and I was working at a human-centred design agency.

While I was there I started learning more and more about UX and that broke my brain for interfaces. …


I joined the online version of UX New Zealand this year. Here’s one thing that stood out for me from each of a few of the talks.

Day one

  • Stop looking for who to include and start looking at what practices and mindsets are exclusionary (from “Consider the periphery” by Elizabeth Lang).
  • Make sure you don’t stop at the MVP: keep refining it (from “More than an MVP: The case for continuous improvement in the COVID era” by James Ford and Pete Lister).
  • IRACIS model — Increase Revenue; Avoid Costs; Improve Service. …

I managed to catch a few of the talks at this year’s A11y Camp. Here are three of my top takeaways from three of the talks. The first one in each list is something I’ve turned into a TODO for myself.

Alexis Lucio: From Nothing to Something: How A Team of 2 Kickstarted an Accessibility

  • Have a11y one-page guidelines (for bite-size learnings)
  • Have a monthly a11y hour (to share some knowledge)
  • Benchmark everything (so you can see improvement)

Ross Mullen: Not another checklist! — A testing methodology which explains the what and how of manual accessibility testing

  • Distill WCAG into something easier to test
  • Test should have a clear pass / fail / not applicable result
  • If your organisations a11y maturity is low, start with just a few tests to set a baseline

Stewart Hay: How to create a kick ass business case for accessibility


Like many people, over the years I’ve been in a lot of meetings. Here are five things that I’ve found tend to make for better meetings.

  • 🙋‍♀️ Facilitator. To help us stay on topic and stay on time. (Example: jazz hands to signal off topic)
  • 📅 Agenda. So we know why we’re there and what our goal is. (Can be only one thing!)
  • 👍 Ground rules. So we know what we can expect from each other. (Examples: the retrospective prime directive, phone use outside the room only)
  • 🤫 Silent brainstorming. To let all the ideas surface, and to let everyone have their say. (Usually with sticky notes)
  • 🖼 Visual note taking. To record what happened. Visual because images are better for memory and understanding. (Ideas, not art: doesn’t have to be fancy!)

That’s it!

Originally published at https://naga.co.za on October 7, 2020.

Steve Barnett

Web Site Maker, Picture Taker, (Ex) Shop Maintainer. Max Barners is just my stage name.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store