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Now is the Best Time to Start

Marcy SuttonMarcy Sutton

As a whole and despite the efforts of many of us in the industry, the current state of accessibility on the web still isn’t great.

New people continue to enter the industry as new technologies emerge. To get real for a second, we still risk history repeating itself where accessibility is not prioritized. Therefore, it’s vital that we teach best accessibility practices so that the applications of the future are accessible from the start.

If you’re a team member tasked with making decisions about what technologies to use for a project, you need to do your due diligence. What are the design, engineering, and content constraints that come with a certain choice? What are its accessibility implications?

Of course, we don’t always have the luxury of working on limitless, greenfield projects (wouldn’t that be nice!)

I consulted with a team this past year that used HTML Canvas for a project that provided very limited options in terms of accessibility. It’s possible the team could have chosen a better solution when the project was greenfield, but we had to work with what we had. So I made accessibility recommendations based on the technology in use while focusing on user experience.

No matter where you are in the state of your application, pair with colleagues to look closely at the source code and documentation of any frameworks or libraries you’re considering. Look for markup anti-patterns like missing input labels or click events on divs. If you see these—consider running away! Or at least validate there is an accessible way of doing things.

If the library you’re looking at provides a demo site or components, you may be able to manually test their examples from your browser to ensure they’re accessible before you get started. If you can improve things with further tinkering, that can provide some confidence without a huge investment.

Throughout the Testing Accessibility series, you will deepen your knowledge of accessibility and improving user experience outcomes. Writing semantic markup from scratch, coding interactivity that supports Assistive Technology, identifying & remediating issues… so much more.

But beyond that, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of how to navigate trade-offs behind the architectural decisions you make. You’ll also learn how to communicate the importance of accessibility to stakeholders and other teams.

Accessibility has been important and it will continue to be important.

It’s never not been important.

Now’s the best time to make it a focus.

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Learn more about building and testing accessible web applications.