As I stumbled down a badly-designed ramp on my crutches, I reflected on the fact that it doesn’t matter what the rules are, sometimes accessibility aids inadvertently end up becoming anything but accessible. The majority of us truly have the best of intentions in mind when it comes to accessibility. Sure, there are people who will balk at the cost or aesthetics, but most people recognize the importance of equal access and will do what’s right. But we often don’t have a first-person experience with a disability that affects our own access, so it’s natural that we make assumptions about how to improve access. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes, in reality, the outcomes end up being worse than if there aren’t any modifications at all.
I’ve always been a bit of an accessibility nerd, but a month of hopping around on one foot after knee surgery turned every minor engineering misstep into a personal insult. If it wasn’t a ramp that looked like it had been in an earthquake, it was ice-slick tiles, dangerously loose grab bars, or doctor offices’ doors that couldn’t be opened without a pry-bar. As a Web Developer, this experience turned my thoughts to the internet equivalent of these flaws. The good news is, the web is easy to fix–if we accept that others don’t always experience roadblocks the way we think they do.
Learn more about the key aspects of using accessibility tools and approaches to solve real digital design challenges in the full article on Medium.