Is Accessibility Hard To Learn And Implement?

I like accessibility. It’s taking some time to learn and there’s a lot to remember to do. Much of the documentation and standards for laws and guidelines are hard to understand. However, it’s well worth it and for some types of web sites and in some countries, meeting accessibility standards is the law.

In my work testing sites, I can tell that most developers still miss the basics, like alt and link attributes, contrasts, text alternatives to scripts and plug ins…to name a few. I found myself agreeing with Helping others understand web accessibility and decided to ask others for their opinions on whether or not implementing accessibility standards is difficult.

I asked “What do you think prevents mass adoption of good accessibility implementation? What prevents you from learning it in greater detail?”

Some of their replies:

After ignorance comes laziness in second place. Considering the vast number of sites that don’t scale text, or have strong contrast in fore/background colours etc., it’s not a suprise that a large number of sites aren’t very friendly to certain user-types. Some people simply do not stop and think, let alone test.

The answer, my friends, is that most developers do not actually understand what they are doing.

They learn something and that is their tool and approach from then on out. Being able to build in Dreamweaver or WordPress, to create in Photoshop, to add-on osCommerce, etc. is being able to utilise extremely useful applications BUT how many of those same people can hand tweak them? Actually know what those scripts and code mean and do?

Accessibility doesn’t ring a bell, because:
- people think it is related to handicapped people only
- there’s no obvious direct connection between accessible coding and good results
- it is branded as “accessibility” in terms of “do it for the 15% and for the law”, not “to earn 15%+ more money”.

I have to say that at a fundamental level, web accessibility is very easy. As the complexity of the site grows, so do the accessibility issues, but when you take a relatively simple example site, making it accessible is simply not all that challenging.

However, it does require attention to detail, compassion, and understanding.

But I’m guessing that most of the problem is that most websites do not have a good webmaster/project manager who is the key to getting all the parts of the puzzle (programming, marketing, branding, design, information) together.

Nice related post by Lorelle today – Blog Challenge: Testing Your Blog’s Accessibility

She writes:

There is a growing number of bloggers and blog readers who are reading your blog right now with a screen reader which reads your blog to them, or some other magnification or screen customization tool or device that enables the visually or physically impaired to read and communicate with their computers and the web.

Have you tested your blog’s design for web standards for accessibility?

3 thoughts on “Is Accessibility Hard To Learn And Implement?”

  1. I wonder if they tech accessibility in web related courses in college. My guess is no. Just like they don’t teach have the stuff they should be teaching students about the web.

    I’d say it’s a lack of just knowing that the concept even exists. Add to the fact that it’s hard for many to even grasp that their site looks different in “another browser”, let alone a text browser.

    Many (and I’ve been guilty of this) don’t look past their own computer screens to see what their sites look like.

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