Accessibility in Oz

By Alex Stoiche on 15 April 2019 Go comment! about Accessibility in Oz

Accessibility is often an afterthought in digital projects, overlooked due to time or budget constraints.

Making accessibility a separate process implies it's an extra task to be completed, rather than something that should be considered from the start.  

Time spent retrofitting hacky solutions to accessibility issues can outweigh the time needed to code with accessibility in mind.

Given this "extra" testing is often done on a completed product, it can push deadlines out due to a tornado of last-minute fixes or you run the risk of launching with an inaccessible product.

How do you avoid accessibility being left behind?

The answer is simple, bring it with you on the journey.

Add accessibility into your requirements as a default and don't treat it as a separate task.

Accessibility is all about being inclusive, so include it!

Add it to your design briefs, developer definitions of done and quality assurance. You can then skip down the high contrast yellow brick road on your way to see the wizard.

Make accessibility part of the general requirements

If you do this accessibility guidelines will be treated “as what needs to be done”, rather than something extra people need to keep in mind.

Generally, people don't like to redo work. After a couple of bounce-backs through peer or QA testing, everyone will learn how to meet accessibility criteria sooner.

Different roles can start learning to design and develop with accessibility in mind, whether they're the shiniest tin can in the shed or have a head of straw.

Accessibility checklist

Another advantage of including accessibility into requirements is multiple roles can treat them as a checklist. Even a bunch of flying monkeys with no concept of usability can use the requirements as a simple test and check QA.

This means checks are made at each step of the process, resulting in a more robust product.

When this process has been defined and followed from start to finish, the whole team benefits.

If a particularly evil team member happens to run afoul of a falling house or changes scene, that person's knowledge is not lost to the world.

The solid foundation will become known as "the way" and new staff members can just join the happy band and fall into step with little fuss.

So what does this all mean?

Instead of one overblown, stressful and cheesy attempt to cover up an inaccessible product with smoke, sound effects and excessive aria tagging, remediation is more manageable.

You can see the product for what it really is, and everyone gets the happy ending.

Then it's time to go home, Toto.

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