Learn About Digital Accessibility
A variety of websites, articles, books, and presentations to teach you more about digital accessibility.
- Dennis Lembrée provided a 5-hour-long free webinar and associated slides, Web Accessibility for Developers (available on the Easterseals Crossroads website). This is the best and more comprehensive free presentation I’ve ever seen.
- Patrick Lauke wrote a lengthy slide deck (161 slides!) on An Introduction to Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). This is comprehensive and contains many valuable references to other sites and resources.
- The company Mediacurrent also offers Best Practices for Content Editors (PDF, 20 pages).
- The Global Alliance for Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) also offers An Introductory Guide for Web Developers (PDF, 66 pages).
Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops guidelines widely recognized as the international standards for web accessibility.
Read the WAI Getting Started page for explanatory information.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
Refer to the WCAG 2.0 Quick Reference page for the guidelines themselves as well as tips on how to meet them.
You may also learn more about the WCAG on this website’s Next Steps page.
Mapping the WCAG to Project Roles
The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) created a document on Mapping WCAG2 to Project Roles (Microsoft Word, 47 KB, 15 pages). This document “considers all 61 success criteria for WCAG 2.0 Level A, AA, and AAA against 10 roles that span software project responsibilities.”
Design agency Viget created the Interactive WCAG 2.0 which allows you to filter the guidelines by role: Content, Design, General Developer, Front-End Developer, and User Experience.
Media Accessibility User Requirements
The W3C’s Media Accessibility User Requirements aggregates the accessibility requirements of users with disabilities that the W3C HTML5 Accessibility Task Force has collected with respect to audio and video on the Web.
First, it provides an introduction to the needs of users with disabilities in relation to audio and video.
Second, it explains what alternative content technologies have been developed to help such users gain access to the content of audio and video.
Third, it explains how these content technologies fit in the larger picture of accessibility, both technically within a web user agent and from a production process point of view.
Types of Impairments
The BBC’s mobile accessibility guidelines contain the following lists of different types of impairments.
Any situation that affects how a person mentally perceives, understands or processes information. This could be due to:
- intoxication or tiredness,
- headache, migraine, sleep disorder or other illness,
- injury, substance abuse, concussion, amnesia or other brain damage,
- neurodiverse conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia,
- mental health and memory conditions such as anxiety, PTSD or dementia,
- or learning and developmental delays.
See also the Boag article on impact of cognitive load on your users (2018 May 1).
Any situation that prevents a person from physically interacting freely. This could be due to:
- holding or carrying something,
- hands that are too large or small for the input control,
- illness or injury that restricts movement or reduces muscle control,
- conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, hemiplegia, or cerebral palsy that can affect movement or muscle control,
- paralysis of limbs or body,
- or full or partial absence of limbs.
Any situation that prevents a person from fully perceiving something audible. This could be due to:
- other noise or a need to mute the volume,
- illness or injury that affects hearing,
- partial hearing loss that requires a hearing aid,
- reduced or restricted hearing that may be muffled or miss certain frequencies,
- conditions such as tinnitus where noise is heard though absent from external sound,
- or deafness where little or nothing is perceived.
Any situation that prevents a person from fully perceiving something visual. This could be due to:
- bright light creating glare or reflections on a screen,
- illness or injury that affects vision,
- short/long sightedness or other conditions that require spectacles,
- color blindness where one or more colors are perceived less or not at all,
- low vision that cannot be corrected only with spectacles,
- conditions such as macular degeneration or cataracts where some areas of vision are obscured or blurred,
- or blindness where little or nothing is perceived.
Here is a list of useful websites regarding accessibility. There are an effectively infinite number of websites out there, but these are the ones I have found the most useful.
- The WebAIM Mailing List archive. Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) has maintained a mailing list about accessibility dating back to 1999. Many big-name accessibility experts subscribe to the list and provide valuable answers. Please search the archives for your keyboards — it’s quite probable that your topic has come up in the past 20 years.
- The Paciello Group. Many of the accessibility experts you’ll hear about work for The Paciello Group. Their blog is usually the first place to read about accessibility news.
- Karl Groves. A veteran accessibility consultant who is opinionated and brutally honest. Your go-to source for frank discussion of accessibility issues.
- The A11y Project. Accessibility patterns, checklists, and resources for web developers.
- Heydonworks. Heydon Pickering’s blog is packed with useful code examples and thoughtful blog posts about accessibility and design.
- Tink.uk. Léonie Watson is prolific and writes the most easy-to-understand explanations about accessibility you’ll find on the web.
- Axess Lab. A small agency focused on building accessible products and spreading awareness of accessibility.
- Simply Accessible. An agency full of accessibility experts who write regularly about their work.
- Web Axe. Accessibility blog and podcast run by Dennis Lembrée featuring accessibility news and tips.
- International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). A professional membership organization focused on career advancement. The website also has some useful educational material and a newsletter.
more websites (not vetted yet)
https://www.digitala11y.com/accessibility-blogs/ – list of blogs, still need to vet these
https://www.digitala11y.com/digital-accessibility-newsletters-roundup/ – list of newsletters, need to subscribe to a few to vet them
https://a11yproject.com/ – “a community-driven effort to make web accessibility easier” – not vetted yet
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NtrU3K_f1vlfjGTnkFJeSja7_xdI9T8rWAgFz5Y-1w0/edit#gid=0 – presentations from CSUN 2018, the major a11y conference
Web Articles of Note
Again, there are an effectively infinite number of web articles, so this list is only those which I find particularly noteworthy.
- Designing for Accessibility and Inclusion, Steven Lambert (2018, April 9) on Smashing Magazine. Designing for accessibility through several ‘lenses’: the lens of animation and effects, the lens of keyboard, the lens of structure, and so forth.
- My Accessibility Journey, by front-end developer Manuel Matuzović (2018, February) on A List Apart. Describes his journey from newbie to veteran. The article is chock full of useful links. Be sure to read to the bottom for the references and resources.
- Accessibility for Everyone, Laura Kalbag (2017, A Book Apart). A concise introduction to the topic in the small-book format (roughly 8 inches by 5 inches) for which A Book Apart is known. Suitable for readers of all experience levels.
- A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences, Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery (2014, Rosenfeld Media). The publisher’s blurb sums it up: “If you are in charge of the user experience, development, or strategy for a web site, A Web for Everyone will help you make your site accessible without sacrificing design or innovation. Rooted in universal design principles, this book provides solutions: practical advice and examples of how to create sites that everyone can use.”
- Color Accessibility Workflows, Geri Coady (2017, A Book Apart). This e-book “goes in-depth on designing for color accessibility, with loads of tools and workflow recommendations.”
White Papers and Presentations
The following white papers and presentations also provide useful overviews of digital accessibility.
- Usability Guidelines for Accessible Web Design. Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice. (2001). Nielsen Norman Group. Although this report was written way back in 2001, as Nielsen points out, “The main thrust of the report remains useful, despite changes in technology: the observations of user behaviors and what they mean for designing better user experiences for people with disabilities.”
- Solving Web Accessibility: Leaving No One Behind (PDF, 1.3 Mb, 16 pages). David Berman. (2017). Covers why we should care about accessibility, the benefits of it, types of disabilities, and assistive technologies.
- Inclusive Design Principles webinar (Word document, 10 Mb, 23 pages). Henny Swan. (2018, February 21). The Paciello Group. Goes through the inclusive design principles step-by-step, with an emphasis on the impact to all part of the organization.
- Inclusive Pattern Libraries webinar (Word document, 21 Kb, 3 pages). Heydon Pickering. (2018, March 28). The Paciello Group. Explains how a pattern library relates up to a design system, and goes through the Cupper documentation builder that Heydon created. You may also view the slides.
- Accessibility Heuristics (PDF, 300 Kb, 6 pages). Caitlin Geier and Denis Boudreau. (2018, April). Deque Systems. A heuristic is an approach to problem solving and learning that emphasizes practical methods — so this document is a list of practical methods for making your websites, apps, and documents more accessible.
- Accessible Mobile Apps for Retail and Restaurants (PDF, 21 pages). (2018, May.) Level Access. Covers digital accessibility as it applies to mobile apps.
Level Access, a leading accessibility consulting firm, produced several short videos in their “Web Accessibility 101” series.
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking Demo (5 minutes). Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a command and control type of assistive technology which allows users to control their computer using only their voice, without the need for a mouse or keyboard.
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking being used to control Microsoft Word (2 minutes).
- Effective Color Contrast (2 minutes 26 seconds)
- On-Screen Keyboard Demo (2 minutes)
- Readability (1 minute 49 seconds)
- Screen Magnification & Reflow in Acrobat Reader (2 minutes)
- Web Headings for Screen Readers (1 minute 52 seconds)
- Screen Reader Language Support (1 minute 18 seconds)
Barclays Bank in the United Kingdom produced a series of videos on YouTube describing some of the basics of accessibility.
YouTube video on Accessibility Debugging with Chrome DevTools (14 minutes 9 seconds), by Umar Hansa (2018, February 23).
Derek Featherstone speaking on Where Accessibility Lives (YouTube video, 1 hour 6 minutes), at the Accessible By Design Conference (2018, May 8). Featherstone is the Chief Experience Officer at Level Access. At around 51:15 he start talking about design systems and pattern libraries.
In 2017, The Paciello Group organized Inclusive Design 24, which was 24 free, one-hour webinars. Lots of awesome content here!
Free courses to teach you about accessibility.
Google and Udacity offer a free course, Developing With Empathy. (They say the skill level is Advanced and the timeline is 2 weeks.)
TODO write how this related to digital accessibility
also the Microsoft inclusive design toolkit
Inclusive Design: 12 Ways to Design for Everyone, by Oliver Lindberg. (2018 March 23.) Shopify. The premise of inclusive design is that apart from permanent disabilities there are temporary, situational, or changing disabilities that affect us all.