Tips for a Sustainable and Repeatable Accessibility Process

Have you ever had trouble using a digital product or service? Do you remember how it felt? Did you feel excluded, or just frustrated? In this introductory post I’ll discuss some of the roadblocks to creating accessible products while offering practical advice on how to overcome them.

Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash

What is Web Accessibility?

So, why’s the process of creating digital products so broken that we — often unintentionally — create exclusions, or simply make the products difficult to use? How can we try to fix the accessibility process?

The Cost of Accessibility

It’s important to understand that accessibility is neither a feature nor only a checklist. It’s a facet of quality user experience and as such, it can be a crucial differentiator and competitive advantage in the product or service you’re selling. By ensuring your product is accessible you might even avoid a lawsuit when the new European accessibility legislation becomes binding law.

Some Reasons for Poor Accessibility

  • Business decisions
  • Lack of knowledge, experience, time or money
  • Ignorance
  • Vendor lock-in (authoring tools/3rd-party software)
  • Culture or organizational structure

More specifically, I have identified the following areas of improvement:

  1. Accessibility Audit
  2. Evaluating by Principle
  3. Prototyping with Idealized Static Content
  4. Automated Checklist Accessibility
  5. Awareness, Motivation and Training
  6. Company Culture and Organizational Structure

Let’s break these down one by one.

1. Accessibility Audit

2. Evaluating by Principle

3. Prototyping with Idealized Static Content

4. Automated Checklist Accessibility

5. Awareness, Motivation and Training

Finding the right arguments for a change can be challenging. It may be better to show and not tell. It’s easier to understand things after you’ve experienced them firsthand. Whatever you do, make sure to challenge the status quo and address ignorance and myths with training and workshops. The sometimes heard “…but this is a web app” excuse of not building accessibility in from the beginning is just one example of flawed thinking that needs to change.

6. Company Culture and Organizational Structure

Examples of Integrating Accessibility into Your Process

  • Create an inclusive Design System driven development workflow
  • Add accessibility guidelines in your Definition of Done and make sure the team has a shared understanding of them

Conclusion

Remember: all technology is assistive.

Originally published at www.akikoo.org on November 5, 2018.

Scrum Master, Agile enthusiast and former UI Developer with 20+ years of international working experience from six European countries. Occasional Music Freak.