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.