Why is Web Accessibility not getting the love and attention it deserves?

"Approximately eight percent of web users have a disability. Nearly half of those users are blind or visually impaired." Source: Georgia Tech's GVU WWW Survey (April 1998)

Websites supporting web accessibility standards over the minimum of level A conformance in my opinion are few and far between. It's never in the requirements document and clients would rather you spent their money on fixing bugs and compatibility issues for older versions of IE, where the stats are as low as 7% of users. So why are we making an exception for these users but not those with disabilities?

It seems to always be an afterthought, from the client who won't invest the money, to the developer who rolls their eyes at the sound of the words 'accessiblity conformance'. It seems like a lot of extra work but infact 'tiny tweaks can make big changes'.

I recently had the pleasure of working on a fantastic project at work where it took accessibility to the extreme; enabling the whole UI to transform depending on the needs of a stroke survivor. It was this that got me thinking alot about accessibility and how little I do myself as a developer to make the world of web a more accessible place. Here are a couple of things outwith the more obvious things that we can do to inject some accessibility practices into our workflow.

Angular & ARIA

Aria is a set of accessibility attributes that can be added to your markup to make it more accessible and screenreader friendly.

Since the HTML 4 specification doesn't provide built-in tags that semantically describe elements, developers typically resort to using generic elements such as div's and span's. This usually isn't enough semantic information in the markup to be usable by an assistive technology. ARIA enables developers to describe their widgets in more detail by adding special attributes to the markup.

When using Angular you can also use ARIA! Not all of ARIA's attributes but the most common tags. To start using ARIA attributes just have to include the module as a dependency and you are on your way to having accesible angular.

TENON & GRUNT

Using grunt for your project? Check out Tenon. In short Tenon is an accessibility testing api and there is an open source Grunt plugin for Tenon allowing you to add accessibility testing in to your development workflow. Check out Joe Watkins post on Getting Started with Grunt Tenon Client.

Post written by Ally Watson.