It’s been a while since I really put hands on web accessibility. Over 10 years now. At that time from the point of view of a developer, when I built and adapted WordPress websites, or removed tables from Joomla templates myself. In these days we merely talked about code, and also about font sizes and colors, when it came to web accessibility.
- Don’t forget the title- and alt attribute
- Have enough font size; maybe give users the option to chose between smaller and bigger basic font-sizes
- Look at the tab order of your websites
Our bible was the WCAG. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which also strongly influenced our coding work. But maybe it did not enough change our way of thinking and evangelizing about accessibility in direction of our stakeholders. Who then didn’t understand what we wanted from them and what was in for them. We often only complained about their ignorance.
In the meantime, after changing job and focus on the conceptual part, I always had the basic principles of web accessibility in mind. And tried to at least keep an eye on the most common issues. I tried to inform co-workers or other stakeholders about what to do, to at least help keep our websites and shops on a – admittedly – very basic level in terms of accessibility.
What I’ve also experienced in the past years, and that was always obvious to me, is that web accessibility only weighed very little when it came to prioritizing the efforts. Yes also, because we weren’t able to take our stakeholders with us. At least in a commercial environment, such as an online shop. Hard KPIs like conversion rate and orders rule this world.
Today inclusion is somehow the term which helped web accessibility to get back on the stage. And don’t fear, accessibility doesn’t lead to ugly, high contrast, and unfancy websites. Like it has always been accessibility is more than only a feature for visually impaired people. Design for inclusion is including accessibility and became it’s carrier medium, as it addresses a broader audience.
Inclusive design goes beyond accessibility, which focuses on people with disabilities and how to make products usable for them. Apart from permanent disabilities, there are temporary and situational disabilities that affect all human beings. – What does it actually mean to create ‘inclusive solutions?’
Now it’s our mission, as UXers, content creators, and developers, to keep the momentum. (Re-) Engage with web accessibility, learn to speak our stakeholders’ language. Show them how a positive impact on web accessibility can additionally help us to turn up the commercial figures. Win-win. Work on web accessibility is not an imposition. It’s about helpfulness, social responsibility and you even can get something out of it. Maybe basically we should not try to re-introduce web accessibility by over-engineering it – again.
So what I wanna do now is to get back on the accessibility track in a self-educational and then also pragmatic manner. I’ll somehow re-start on a basic level, learn, think and then act towards more web accessibility. I’ll also get into the dialogue with people who need support when accessing websites, such as visually impaired people. But also, for example, elder people, or people who’re not tech savvy and try to understand our products and offers. So in future, I’ll share new experiences and learnings here in this blog.
As a first jump point to web accessibility, I recommend the following newer articles and sources.