Heydon makes a good point about how we all, at some point during our day (or lives), need designers to make web pages accessible because we’re finding something difficult. We are all physically, cognitively, physiologically, socially or technologically hampered, whether that’s through a permanent condition which means we need to use a screen reader, or in a more difficult to define or temporary way. We may turn 46 and find our our eyesight isn’t what it was, or we get tired more. Our commute into work may get stuck in some godforsaken wood outside Ingatestone which has little or no mobile connection. We might lose our job and find we can only use a knackered, ancient desktop to get online. How do we design for these scenarios?
Ironically enough, the term inclusivity has been used to ghettoise easier to label conditions and states. Unfortunately, there are plenty of overprivileged fools out there willing to exploit any group they deem weaker than themselves. But web designers can and should – and they mostly have honourable intentions, I think – work to make their output truly accessible. If they don’t, they could be excluding anyone, even if you think you have a healthy, wealthy audience.
This isn’t just about putting a skip link at the top of your page, or using ARIA attributes correctly. It’s about a myriad of other little decisions designers and developers have to make in every line of code, such as: adding bullet points to long lists, underlining links, colour contrast, text size, using meaningful imagery, using thoughtful imagery, marking up content properly, thinking twice about using a library or webfont, using appropriate language, making content findable by search engines, etc. etc.
What would an accessible web look like? I’m sure it would look a lot different from how it does now ( – and am not unguilty, obviously).
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I bought a smartphone with a monochrome E-Ink screen a couple of years ago. It made me even more aware of how bad visual accessibility on most websites is.
Link color so similar to the body color that they’re indistinguishable on a monochrome display; text-background contact so low that you can barely tell there’s any text at all; JS-“enhanced” scrolling that looks like serious lag. The list goes on…