Most developers treat website accessibility issues as an afterthought, if they acknowledge them at all. While government services have strong guidelines regarding access to facilities for the disabled, the commercial sector remains woefully unaware of the simple practices and techniques required to make their sites more friendly and usable to everyone. Ignored during development, accessibility features are inevitably proclaimed to be “too much work” when the site is complete, and are pushed onto the back burner, usually to remain there, unconsidered or incomplete.
A similar situation can be found in commercial and residential construction. If accessibility issues are ignored during the planning phase, the structure that results may work fine for the able-bodied, but remain cumbersome or impossible for the disabled to use. If everyone’s needs had been considered at the beginning of the project, the solutions – ramps for wheelchair access, wider doors and hallways, lower counters – could have been easily integrated into the original design, creating a structure that was inviting to everyone while avoiding costly renovations, overhauls, and (potentially) lawsuits.
Website accessibility is exactly the same. While inevitably it must be treated as a somewhat separate set of skills, integrating a few simple best practices in your work builds accessibility into your site, adding only a few minutes to development time and avoiding costly revisions entirely.
I very much believe in “being the change that you want to see”, so you’ll see such practices emphasized throughout this site… and if you see an aspect missing or unaddressed, please let me know in the comments below, or in the appropriate article.