My approach to accessibility

Accessibility is the next great tool for innovating the digital space. When we make tools that are robust enough to be usable for people with disabilities, we’ve made our products that much better for everyone.

With my product innovation driven approach to accessibility, I’m ready to help your organization master the craft of accessibility by winning friends (rather than battles) in all roles of any enterprise.

1. Accessibility isn’t just the right thing, it’s the best thing.

Time and time again, I see that when teams put accessibility at the beginning of their design and development decisions, they make the best products for everyone.

Accessibility is not a requirement.
Accessibility is a design tool.
— Derek Featherstone

Measureable effects of accessible design

  • Interfaces become more intuitive, faster and less prone to bugs.
  • Search engine results page (SERP) rankings improve
  • Conversion and interaction metrics trend positive

2. Give teams more than training: they need tools and processes

I rarely come across teams that don’t want to make accessibility a priority, but I do come across teams that encounter obstacles to change that may be a result of team culture, skillset, procedures, capacity or budget. Product teams will need organizational support.

Common obstacles

An organization may need to eliminate these obstacles:

  • Teams may be completely unfamiliar with accessibility
  • Conflicts with existing high priority work
  • Processes without accountability for meeting requirements
  • Lack of testing procedures
  • A false sense that the team is already experts, despite failing compliance standards
  • A cultural sense that the team has no ownership in decision making

4. Accessibility doesn’t cost extra, remediation and missed opportunity does

Regardless of what any developer tells you, building products that are accessible from the start does not take more time or resources. It simply does not.

What is very expensive is remediating code that isn’t accessible as a fire drill in response to a customer complaint.

The unseen costs

Beyond potential legal settlements for ADA complaints there are serious costs for inaccessible products.

  • Missed opportunity to serve more customers
  • Lost insights for feature innovation that benefits all of your products
  • Not being seen as a brand that cares about all people

5. With the right tools, this really isn’t that hard

Frankly, the technical requirements of digital accessible design and development are not hard, but as an industry, we’ve evolved mindsets and processes that don’t often support considering people who use technology differently.

You can’t change the way people think, all you can do is give them a tool, the use of which will change their thinking.
— R. Buckminster Fuller.

Automated testing won’t get you there

While automated testing tools are helpful in discovering programmatic code errors, they can’t tell you if a product actually works or makes sense. It’s possible to make a product that passes automated checks, but is completely inaccessible.

Manual testing is always required

That’s why I built A11yEngineer, a web application that details the success criteria for every web component a team is likely to ever need to produce.

6. Process is everything, everything is a process

A ditital product is more than the design and development phase.

How projects are funded, approved, scheduled, planned, built, accepted, deployed and maintained all impact the experience people have with your organization.

Each piece of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) has to be brought into alignment with the accessibility goals or the organization.

How can I help?

If you’re facing an accessibility challenge, I can help.

Organizations that are beginning the journey to master accessibility, are often doing so because of one of these reasons:

Get in touch for help with building a plan for remediation. Let’s turn this emergency into a shift to holistic compliance.

A grass roots effort within the company has escalated this priority

That’s great! I can help you gain the executive buy in you need and create a roadmap to success. Contact me to take things to the next step.

Contractual agreements require WCAG compliance

When a partner or client begins requiring accessible products, it can come as a shock or a new and urgent requirement. They may be asking for a VPAT or for validation of a VPAT. Contact me to take things to the next step.