Helpful accessibility resources for all

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an opportunity to share and spread knowledge about digital accessibility and inclusion.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Building awareness remains an important goal for web accessibility1, as many folks who are building for the web are unfamiliar with web accessibility, both what it means to users and how to implement it in their digital products. Accessibility is not reliably taught as part of the foundation of web education, in universities or at bootcamps.

As a self-taught dev in the early days of the web, I mostly had to learn on the job and am grateful for the conference talks, books and blog posts that have educated me and made me into an advocate for web accessibility. I invite you to join me in this and wanted to highlight some resources that can help, no matter where you are in your accessibility journey.

Just getting started #

Is all this new to you? Awesome! 🎉 There is no better time to start that right now and these resources are hand-picked to help you start to learn about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

  • Myths and Facts About People with Disabilities—Even if you think you’re starting at zero, it’s likely you’ve picked up some misconceptions about disability from friends, family or popular culture. This list created by the Easter Seals is a great jumping off point to course correct and grow your understanding of folks with disabilities.
  • Ableism Explained—Ableism is “set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with disabilities.” This extended definition by Leah Smith provides concrete examples and talks about the impact of ableism.
  • When we design for disability, we all benefit—In this 2015 TedxMidAtlantic talk, Elise Roy shares how being Deaf allows her to create and design solutions that might not be obvious to others.
  • How I do an accessibility check—Rob Dodson walks through how do do a simple accessibility evaluation of a web site. If you’ve never considered these things, this is a friendly 12-minute whirlwind tour of many important concepts.

Developers #

If, as a developer, you’re interested in building accessible products, these resources will get you sorted.

  • Links vs. Buttons in Modern Web Applications—Marcy Sutton provides an in-depth discussion of two important HTML elements and the impact they can have on accessibility.
  • Inclusive Components—Heydon Pickering’s amazing resource of interactive components designed and coded with accessibility at the forefront, including a thoughtful walkthrough of those decisions. Highly, highly recommended.
  • a11yEngineer—Great tool for generating detailed acceptance criteria and testing guidelines for accessible web and mobile products.

Team practice #

Accessibility is definitely a team sport. These resources outline how different roles in your org can contribute to building inclusive and accessible experiences.

  • Accessibility for teams—Part of Google’s Web Fundamentals, this section outlines how project managers, designers and developers can incorporate accessibility into their roles.
  • Vox Media’s Accessibility Guidelines—Similar to the previous resource, but also expands to include content creators and QA.
  • Creating an Accessibility Engineering Practice—Okay, I’m going to acknowledge that this is a big read, but you’re getting the benefit of Dan Na and his experience leading Etsy’s first accessibility team. Take your time with this one, but definitely dig in.

Keep going #

No matter where you started, there’s more to learn. These are the ways I keep accessibility front of mind all year long, not just one day in May.

  • One of the ways I start learning about new things is to sign up for newsletters; getting regular, digestible amounts of info works really well for me. For this purpose, I pretty much recommend the A11y Weekly Newsletter to everyone involved in building for the web.
  • Adding voices of accessibility experts, including those with disabilities, into your social media stream is a great way to learn. This list of folks and groups to follow on Twitter will give you some options.
  • Join communities focused on accessibility, like local meetup groups or the web a11y Slack community (invites to this group are currently limited, but feel free to DM me on Twitter if it would help you!).
  • If you’re looking for information about something specific, both The A11y Project and Awesome A11y are huge resources.

As always, feel free to send comments to me via Twitter. I'd love to hear about resources that helped you learn about accessibility or your recent a11y wins!

  1. Though I will admit I look forward to when, instead, we can celebrate GAWD—Global Accessibility Wins Day. 🏆

Reading time: 4 min

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  1. Marissa Cummings 吳至佳