Digital Accessibility

January 18, 2021

I recently started a job working as the web developer for a college’s digital team. One of the university groups that reached out to me after I started was an advocacy group for accessibility. It was something I hadn’t had to take into account before in the little side projects I threw together.

At my previous job, we made a lot of physical interfaces so I was aware of some ADA regulations regarding things like kiosks and touch screens. They needed to have (or have a certain mode that had) the interactables within a certain distance of the ground so wheelchair users could still navigate the whole thing. It was interesting to see the graphic designer on the team take the requirements into account.

There are bi-monthly meetings about various topics that currently are hosted as Zoom seminars to tune into. There’s the basic stuff I kind of knew about already: make sure your color palette is readable and make sure your images have alt text so vision-impaired people can get some context for your content. There’s the less obvious stuff I’ve enjoyed learning about such as screen readers and aria labels.

Visually impaired people have programs that will interpret what’s on-screen/in the HTML and read the text, list off links/buttons/etc and allow them to navigate websites with just keyboards. Making sure your code is lined out logically or making sure your elements are properly visible/hidden or labeled is just an extra level of detail I feel bad for never having taken into account.

I feel like out of anything I’ve learned in my career, this topic is one I have a burgeoning enthusiasm for.