James Aylett: Introducing Accessibility Advent

Published at
Sunday 2nd December, 2012

Recently I’ve noticed a particular kind of rage growing within me, a rage that has me tweeting bile and involuntarily punching imaginary developers sitting next to me. It is the rage caused by people who don’t think about accessibility when building (mostly) websites.

There are a million sites and articles that make the case that you should care about accessibility – features and techniques that help users of “assistive technology” – usually from a legal (local legislation requires you make efforts towards accessibility) or economic (you can make more money, yay!) standpoint. My argument is different.

I use assistive technology. When I encounter a poorly built website or piece of software, I wanted to punch the people involved. Eventually I won’t be able to constrain myself.

No one really wants that, so this Advent I’ll be giving some hints on how you, as a web developer, can make my life easier. I use Dragon Dictate for Mac, which uses the same voice recognition engine as Dragon Naturally Speaking for Windows; my advice will sometimes be specific to Dragon, and more commonly only considered from the point of view of speech recognition users – I’ll be trying to explain why these things are important to me, as well as what you should do. Nonetheless, the vast majority of things that people commonly get wrong are either general accessibility mistakes, or subtle details that are unlikely to cause problems for any other users if implemented the way I think they should be. If you disagree, or I’ve just got something utterly wrong, then let’s talk so I can improve my advice.

I’ll be publishing these weekdays during Advent. They aren’t in any particular order. I may forget to update the following list every day: