A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to listen to a presentation on accessibility given by Robert Jolly at the Fort Collins WordPress Meetup. He also gave an abbreviated version of the presentation at WordCamp Denver 2016. Prior to Robert’s presentation, I can honestly say that I had not given much thought as to whether or not the sites and themes that I built would be considered accessible.
We might not realize it, but as developers, we build inaccessible websites all the time.
– Vitaly Friedman
As I listened to what Robert had to share, I realized that website accessibility is neither something that happens by accident nor something that can be added at the end of a project. It must be an intentional effort and it must be included in a project from the very beginning.
So, why hadn’t I thought about my projects in terms of accessibility? The short answer is best summed up in a quote from the article The Veil of Ignorance.
We most likely don’t think about this because our life doesn’t necessitate it.
What I didn’t realize initially is that web accessibility is about more than just making sure someone with a permanent disability can access a site. Almost everyone, at some point in time, will have an issue that could prevent them from accessing a website.
A few examples include:
- Viewing a website on a screen that is in direct sunlight.
- Trying to navigate a website without a mouse (holding a baby, broken arm, etc).
- Watching a video on a website when you can’t have sound (ex: in a room while someone is sleeping).
As I began to understand the importance of web accessibility, I knew that I needed to learn more about it. A good resource that I found was Heydon Pickering’s book Inclusive Design Patterns.
As I begin to study how to improve my own work, I hope to share the journey with our readers.