As many people around the IT industry, the company I currently work for, is trying to catch up and be on the forefront of accessibility race.
Accessibility is slowly starting to be set as a government requirement across the world. Many countries have already adopted a AA or AAA standards (see w3 link in footer) as a minimum requirement for medium to large company website or applications and more are following this trend.
Accessibility: The untold story
Until now ( before company were forced for it) the main obstacle of accessibility was usually the businesses themselves that would not see any benefits in spending extra time and extra money to train their employees on this new way of developing website/applications, but now the story is changed, the focus is actually moved and the main pressure is on the developers and on creating accessible ways of doing things.
Even if accessibility has been around for quite some time, it is still not mature enough and what are called “standards” are actually too open to interpretation, and the developer bible (www.stackoverflow.com) still has many unanswered questions.
I am personally a developer that like to succeed and try to be “competent” in what I do, but even if I am trying, I am finding it very difficult to get up to speed and to feel confident when discussing accessibility.
In the last few years the web was hitting a mature stage, it didn’t matter if you were a developer based in USA, India or in Europe, website semantic and the way we tackled responsiveness started to follow a consistent pattern that was easily spotted, but not the ecosystem has been disrupted again, wherever I search, I can see different adoption or code, even simple implementation such as list or dropdown menus have tons of different accessible implementations way that will have different behaviour on different browsers and screen readers.
I have decided to join the IT industry a few years ago because it was known to be fast paced and always changing and what I explain above perfectly embrace this definition.
As a developers we have to do what we do best and start to think outside the box, we need to get together and come out with a solution and stick with it until it became a standard, like it or not (for example the lovely “hamburger icon” that even if extremely popular, it is still the subject of so many discussions).
People with disability have for too long waited for us to make the first step, and help them be part of the web. We have avoided the subject and always tried to keep it low in our priority list, but the time has come for us get creative. We need to stop and address accessibility as a box to tick and actually start to come up with implementation that not only fulfil the standards but also bring benefits to developers ( by having and easy way to implement it), and end customer ( that will finally start to find pattern across different website/app).
It is not going to be easy, or is not going to be fun, but no one has ever said that it was going to be!
If you’re looking for a great accessibility resource, this is it: http://a11yproject.com/