a11y web accessibility

Accessibility Implied

As the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 25 years old, I am disappointed that the law is still needed to defend the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA author, , recently wrote an article for The Washington Post where he stated, “The ADA was a response to an appalling problem: widespread, systemic, inhumane discrimination against people with disabilities.”

Accessibility benefits everyone.

So, with that law in effect, there will always be ramps or elevators to go along with stairs, braille on signage and other features implemented in every newly constructed or remodeled building since then. Meanwhile, if you look carefully, people whom are elderly, on crutches or pushing strollers (or tired or with their arms full or ect) are using the elevators and ramps too?

These solutions exist, and are available to people not labeled disabled, because they were part of the requirements for the design and development process.

Good commercial construction builders know these  requirements are a part of every build, so doorways are large enough, do not have uneven floor seams and so on. With brand new construction sites, you wouldn’t expect to see someone ripping out cemented steps because the stair rise is completely wrong or retrofitting railings because they were not installed. If they were, they should not be building anything. Am I right?

Process changes: Mobile first

Mobile First Web Design book seen on a phone, ipad and as a hard copy.Not that long ago, there was a huge challenge given to developers and designers to shoehorn desktop sites into mobile sites. So, what needed to happen was for everyone to think about the mobile design before the desktop design because trying to cram the bloated desktop content into the mobile site wasn’t working. We flipped the design/development process, as we knew it, on its head and now we start with the mobile version.

Let’s hit the reset again!

Blue Accessibility IconTrying to retrofit accessibility into a website that never had it is very challenging. Rewriting spans that should have been buttons (or worse, links) and fixing many other common faux pas’ can take a lot of time and resources. The way I’ve been doing it, quietly baking it into each project I’m working on. If we are redesigning the homepage, I make sure the homepage comes out accessible (or the best I can do at the time…I’m still learning).

Wouldn’t it be great if, like a new construction site, we started with accessibility as a normal part of design requirements? And, wouldn’t it be so much easier if we worked from with accessible frameworks? If you know of any that are 100% accessible, please let me know. I am putting my money where my mouth is and giving back by working on the accessibility of open source projects I use (e.g. WordPress).

As we make web content more accessible, it benefits everyone because it makes it more usable: easier to read, use and understand. I see it as an opportunity to create better user experiences for everyone regardless of ability.

I wish we didn’t need laws (or lawsuits) to force accessibility. But, because of the ADA law, we do not expect to hire a construction company just for accessibility features. You just hire a construction company and they should follow the building code laws. The same should apply to the web. Just developers or designers following the web standards, accessibility implied.  Someday. 🙂

Shoot, we still say responsive web design. Isn’t just web design, at this point?

evening ramblings


That moment when the project you have been lovingly/painstakingly working on for several weeks is finally getting it’s time to go live into production. You are both excited and nervous because you’re really happy with the challenges you’ve had to overcome to develop the project and hoping nothing goes wrong with the release.

Lego Movie Meme: Everything Is Awesome!

The code goes live and, for the most part, everything seems fine. A few tweaks here and there will be needed, but overall, the release was a success. Time to pop open the bubbly, right?

Or, so you thought.

Less than 24 hours later, you start getting emails that client has TONS of changes.

What happened? The site looks just like the approved mockups and most of the changes were design related. Make text bigger, bolder, move this, change that. Fine. Ok. Whatever.

Wile E. Coyote's Gravity Lessons

Then, there are changes to elements that took a long time to implement well. Those change requests can take a toll on you. The challenges we have to overcome as designers/developers are what make the job fun and interesting, but it can be a little demoralizing when those solutions will only see the light of day for a week before they ripped out because the featured changed so much. Deep breaths.

Don’t get mad, get some perspective.

Why are these changes being requested now?

Put yourself in their shoes for minute. It might be, that the mockups were last seen and approved 6 months ago OR maybe seeing it live made certain flaws stand out like glaring little sore thumbs. Whatever the reason, maybe a little more communication in the future will help.

Why were features left out of original scope or being removed now?

Stuff happens, no one is perfect. Sometimes the revisions are not as hard/bad as you think they will be. Even if they are worse, does it really matter? Unless you are being overworked, underpaid, treated badly or something along those lines: if someone is paying you to do the work, should you really complain?

Might as well embrace the situation and see it for what it is: an opportunity to overcome challenges that go beyond the code/design. Cheers.

Maybe even grow a little as a person. 🙂

Betty White and Someone else clinking Giant Wine Glasses