Accessibility isn’t about technology

April 13, 2011

Topics: Accessibility, Web Development.

I’m a firm believer that the first step to creating effective accessible web sites is to understand the nature of disability. Learning all the technological elements which can affect that accessibility is also necessary, but if you don’t understand why you’re employing the technology, you’re far more likely to make simple but costly mistakes.

My latest article, 10 Common Developer Mistakes, published at Ecommerce Developer, covers examples of some of those still-common mistakes which are fundamentally the result of a failure to understand how other people perceive and interact with your product.

What makes a web site inaccessible is your fault: your web site is not inaccessible because your visitor has a disability, it’s inaccessible because you have placed barriers on the site. These barriers are caused by a failure to understand how other people perceive or interact differently from yourself.

A self-focused perception of the world can be very damaging to accessibility or to usability. It’s not that you can’t build a great and even successful web site while primarily thinking of yourself as the user; but your site’s ability to cope with the needs and expectations of other users is greatly reduced if you aren’t able to understand how other people will interact with your web site.

3 Comments to “Accessibility isn’t about technology”

  1. One common example of a developer mistake is to spend too much time and resources on the programming aspect. Developing is a multifaceted task and spending too much on anything is a huge mistake.

  2. Interesting point about usability and accessibility in a website. There have been many times that I came across a site and have not been able to navigate it efficiently. It is definilty something that webdesigners need to pay more attention on, I mean that is why there is entire professions based around the physcology and process of graphic user interface (GUI). Web owners have the responsibility to make the user experience flow as naturaly as possible. Good read!

  3. I find many sites which are difficult to navigate. I often find sites which are a sort of labirinth, where a visitor has to hardly find his way to get to the desired page. This is really ridiculous. Many a time I leave a site just because there’s no way where to go, even though I’m sure I could find valuable information. I found this page: http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/
    Maybe some of your visitors might find it useful.
    Thank you for your explanation about this subject, I feel we all should read more about it.