Demystifying Accessibility for Web Development – Introduction
A common misconception is that Web accessibility is just for blind people. Web accessibility is for everyone. It encompasses people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities, and even technological limitations such as older Web browsers, smaller screens, or slow internet connection.
Designing and developing a Web site in which all users, regardless of disability or technology, can access, navigate, read, and understand the same content should be your main goal as a Web designer and developer.
A problem I see with a lot of Web sites these days is that the designers become so focused on making things beautiful on-screen (using only photography to convey a message, vague or non-existent descriptions, motion design that makes the experience more difficult to use, links and navigation that make no sense out of context, etc.) that they forget the experience needs to engage and accommodate all users.
My good friend, Todd Liebsch (who is also an amazing accessibility expert) and I were having this very same discussion the other week and he came up with this concept.
Never design or develop with a WYSIWYG “What You See Is What You Get” mentality. Think of it this way, if everyone can’t see it, they can’t get it. If they can’t get it, you need to figure out a way for them to access that same content. WYSIWYG is an acronym commonly used in the design/development software to describe an authorizing interface, but I think it also makes sense to use it in terms of Web accessibility from a development perspective.
In the coming weeks, I will be expanding this series to include my experience and learnings in Web development with accessibility in mind. I’ll be including code samples and knowledge I’ve gathered over the last few years developing and retrofitting sites for accessibility and my findings from working with people who directly use JAWS and other assistive technologies.
Future article topics:
Demystifying Accessibility for Web Development
- Common Myths
- Alt and Title Attributes
- Skip Links