Deploy Friday: hot topics for cloud technologists and developers

#26: Accessibility

June 11, 2021 Larry Garfield, Thomas Lattimore, Nic Steenhout, Carie Fisher Season 1 Episode 26
Deploy Friday: hot topics for cloud technologists and developers
#26: Accessibility
Show Notes

The digital accessibility umbrella is broad

Digital accessibility means different things to different people. Most people, on hearing the term, think of people with disabilities, such as being deaf or blind. But our two experts, Nic Steenhout and Carie Fisher, make it clear the digital accessibility umbrella encapsulates much more. It also includes people who:

  • Have ADHD or other cognitive issues — such as with memory, concentration or information processing
  • Are accessing digital information via different technology — such as mobile, or older browsers
  • May be accessing the internet with slower connections
  • Are colorblind
  • Are non-native English speakers

Nic Steenhout sums it up, “Regardless of the format, digital accessibility all comes down to the same thing — making sure that what we're building is workable, perceivable, understandable, and operable by people with disabilities, and everybody else as well."

Digital accessibility benefits everyone, including you

Our experts also make the point that digital accessibility is not necessarily limited to the group it’s intended for; what is beneficial for one group can benefit another. Nic gives an example, “Plain language and transcripts are easier to understand for people that have cognitive impairments, but they also benefit non-native English speakers.”

Nic adds that by factoring accessibility into your site, you broaden your audience as well. “Are people accessing your site through a keyboard, a mouse, Speech Input, Alexa? You don't know. And because you don't know, you have to plan for all that.”

Make your content more accessible on the frontend and backend

Making room for accessibility requires a dose of both imagination and empathy; as Nic points out, “We’re all only temporarily abled.” On the frontend, our experts highlight suggestions for putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and improving your site’s accessibility. 

  • Use proper markup.
  • Throttle down your bandwidth.
  • Look at your site in an older version of a browser.
  • Unplug your mouse, turn off your trackpad, and spend the day working only with your keyboard.

They have suggestions for the backend too:

  • Write clean, readable code 
  • Comment your code.
  • Update and organize your documentation.

Read the web content accessibility guidelines to find out how you can make your site more accessible for everyone.
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