Accessibility - improving everyone's experience online

Accessibility (often called “a11y” by those who want to sound cool, because of the eleven letters between the first and the last) is the name given to the tools and processes used to make the Internet more accessible to people with visual, auditory, physical, or other disabilities. But improving a site’s accessibility doesn’t just make it better for people with disabilities; it often makes it better for all users.

If you’re new to accessibility, a quick search will reveal a ton of acronyms and terms: WCAG, AAA, AA, WAI, Section 508. If this makes you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Here are some resources I’ve found to help with a gentle introduction to accessibility:

  • Empathy Prompts - Helps you build empathy for others who may experience the web differently through a series of prompts that anyone can implement.
  • Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) A project of the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium); the WAI has developed the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which form the basis for legal guidelines in many jurisdictions.
  • Follow people like Eric Bailey and Adrian Roselli.

I had been meaning to talk about this eventually, but a kind note from Jay pointed out that this site itself had some accessibility challenges, particularly the contrast between some of the text (grey text on a white background) made it hard to read. I’ve since updated the site’s theme, to hopefully mitigate the issue. I used a color contrast extension for Firefox to automatically check the page.

There are a ton more helpful resources on accessibility, and I hope to mention many of them in the future. If you have any suggestions, please reply in the comments or contact me.