The accessibility stalemate

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2021-07-22 17:30:07

Over the course of my career I’ve seen a lot of excellent accessibility presentations and learned a lot. That’s because I worked in the accessibility space and went to specialist conferences. Web development conferences also have accessibility talks and their number is rising. But often these don’t go past the 101 stage or repeat things that should be obvious. Alas, many of these things aren’t obvious to the average designer/developer. The reason could be a thing I’m calling the accessibility stalemate.

What do I mean by that? A lot of excellent accessibility advice never gets distributed beyond the initial audience. The reason is that people love to call out any accessibility problems with the materials. There is a knee-jerk reaction I’ve seen over and over again. Calling a slide deck explaining how to make content accessible that isn’t fully accessible as “ironic” or “a bad example”. A lot of presenters don’t share their talks because of that. I saw many conferences not release any of the materials or videos as they couldn’t caption them or host them on a platform that allows for it.

It is tough to make things accessible. I’d even go as far as saying that you can never make things accessible to everyone. All you can do is make sure that the materials you publish can be altered to the needs of your users. At the least, provide information that describes things that are visible only – like alternative text for images. We understand that and when it comes to products in the wild, we’re forgiving if things aren’t perfect.

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