Last week Caitlin and I traversed down to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to participate in Environments for Humans (@E4H) Web Accessibility Conference. Our fearless leader has started teaching us in the ways of accessibility, but it’s been snippets here and there so this was a great opportunity to expand our knowledge even further (Mwa ha ha ha ha!).
There were eight speakers and topics that were covered. Here’s an overview -
Is Universal Design Still Possible w/ Matt May (@mattmay)
People are different. One size doesn’t fit all.
It’s not are we dealing with disabled people. It’s how many people are we reaching & how many are we leaving behind. – Matt May
Accessibility impacts more people than we realize.
Consider accessibility at every step in the project.
This shouldn’t come as any surprise, but it is a whole lot easier to plan in accessibility from the beginning that to try and add it in at the end. As Marla Erwin said, an accessible website starts from the design stage, not from the coding stage. Things like zoom, adjustable font, alt text, link clarity, clickable space, screenreaders and background colors all take a lot less development time to include from the beginning than to try to come back and address later.
If your boss doesn’t see the value in thinking about accessibility, feel free to point out to them that they’re missing out on a trillion dollar market, including $220 billion in discretionary income. It shouldn’t be the reason we build accessibility, but sometimes mentioning the potential market helps.
Compliance is not enough (even if its more than a lot of people are doing).
Compliance with accessibility standards doesn’t equal usability. Accessibility is about more than just checking off the compliance boxes Just play around with snook.ca for a bit and you can see how some extremely compliant color combinations make your eyes cry out for mercy (it can’t just be mine).
The same can be said for alt text. Just throwing some random words in there isn’t going to make your site accessible. Thought needs to be put into the choice of text and it should convey the functional content of the image it belongs to.
Accessibility is about real people who live real lives. They are our neighbors, siblings, parents, grandparents, friends and co-workers. Their needs are as important as any other customer and as professions we need to care about more than if we meet the minimum requirements.
It is not enough to just hack around on these things. We need to get involved. – Matt May