Ally and A11y

I’m a wordsearch nerd, so spellings of things — or how letters in words work — always catch my attention. For instance one of the things I’m jealous of is a Japanese friend whose last name is “Niijima” which doesn’t seem all that amazing, but when you see it set typographically:


So something about how the word “Ally” looks as compared to the abbreviation for “Accessibility” (“A11y” as a numeronym where it is “A” and “y” sandwiching 11 letters) has long given me warm feelings for reasons I’ve never put to writing. Do you see it?

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After reading this Medium article, “Holy shit, being an ally isn’t about me!” shortly after reading this one from Pinterest Engineering on “Seven best practices for inclusive product design” which announces the new Pinterest apps’ attention to accessibility it got me thinking about how awesome it is that these two words are so visually similar because they’re so important to designers. Because the two together are extremely powerful considerations for inclusive design as it is starting to get practiced today. The possibilities are endless when we consider the pursuit of becoming a better Ally and becoming a better practitioner of A11y in design. —JM