Accessibility: More than Just a Task on a List

Just this afternoon, Michael Seidel and I did a brief presentation to a group of web designers, outlining a process to better fuse user experience with design and development. The intent of this process is to raise awareness in the value of user experience every step of the way, from the initial wireframing through web site/page creation, and continually even after it is launched.

One key point we made – user experience isn’t one step in the process, to be executed once and checked off. It’s pervasive.

Web accessibility goes hand in hand with user experience. After all, what is accessibility but building experiences that are usable for everybody?

That also means that web accessibility isn’t a checkbox on your to-do list. It isn’t a singular task that you “do” and move on. It’s constant.

It’s something you think about when:

  • you are card-sorting the key elements of a web site.
  • you build wireframes of the information you’re presenting.
  • you consider color contrasts, typography and layout while designing the page.
  • you enter every single line of CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Flash, etcetera
  • you ask users — disabled and non-disabled — to test out your new web experience and share what works and what doesn’t.

User experience and accessibility aren’t individual tasks at one specific point in time. They are ways of thinking that carry through every aspect necessary to build a web site or page.

Don’t marginalize either by ignoring them or relegating them to one tiny line item in your project.

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