By Sarah Horton and David Sloan
Note: This is the manuscript version of the paper we presented at the 7th Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology (CWUAAT ’14). The paper appears in the book Inclusive Designing: Joining Usability, Accessibility, and Inclusion, Copyright © 2014 Springer.
Attention to accessibility usually comes into play in the later phases of product development. Accessibility audits are typically performed during quality assurance and user acceptance testing phases. Remediation for any issues identified in the audit usually happens in code. However, the best fix for many complex accessibility issues may be to revisit the overall design approach; yet reworking designs at this late phase has a significant impact on timelines and processes. Any recommendation involving alternative designs is therefore usually unwelcome. Instead, the issues remain unresolved, or are resolved in a fashion that achieves technical accessibility but offers a compromised user experience.
The best approach to accessible user experience is to integrate accessibility into the design and development process. When accessibility is part of the practice of every member of the product development team, and when accessible features and functionality are built into design, content, and code, the result is a product that is accessible and enjoyable for everyone.