Accessibility is a major focus at Cantilever. Sometimes clients ask us if we can share our knowledge and practices on the subject so that they can elevate their game on other projects. We are excited to help. We are nowhere near perfect at achieving accessibility in our work, but we have learned a thing or two over the years.
This guide explains our general philosophy around accessibility and is a good primer on the subject if you are just getting started:
- The WCAG are the best practices rules for web accessibility. The WCAG 2.1 AA spec is the commonly-accepted definition of “accessible”.
- Accessibility is not just for code! The design of a site is make-or-break for its accessibility.
- Ensuring a site is accessible requires continual attention throughout the design and development process. It is very hard to “make something accessible” at the end.
- Many people have a permanent or temporary disability that affects how they use computers. Over a billion people live with some sort of disability. Further, a disability can occur at any time to anyone: “we are all pre-disabled”.
- Yes, accessibility is important for legal protection, but the most important reason to make a site accessible is to provide an excellent user experience to anyone.
Checklists & Audits
These are a little out of date (2019ish). They are still useful as general guidelines.
These checklists are a plain-english summary of the WCAG 2.1 AA criteria, sort of a “shorthand” for achieving the spec. They also include some particular things we like to do to improve the user experience for people with assistive technologies.
It is important to also understand the actual WCAG criteria instead of just one company’s interpretation, but our checklists should help give a big-picture view that is less verbose than the WCAG itself.
To ensure a site is accessible, we have a process for utilizing these checklists in an Audit. These procedures outline the basics of how to use automated and manual testing to assess a website’s accessibility.
Some external resources we recommend:
- WebAIM's Introduction to Web Accessibility: A high-level tackling of the subject.
- WebAIM’s article on color contrast: Color contrast is one of the most common accessibility issues and is a major factor in assessing designs. Understanding contrast and how it works is important to a conforming design.
- A Checklist by Deque: Discusses various things to test, and the specific WCAG Criteria they’re related with.
- Overlay Fact Sheet: An overview of accessibility overlays, their impact, and the benefits and limitations of automated accessibility repair.