A11y - What, Why, How

The goal of this presentation is to help humanize how we interact with the digital world. A fundamentally modern human experience shared by all. But like too many things in our world, not accessible to all.

Join me to explore, the What, the Why and the How, of Digital Accessibility.

A11y - What, Why, How

What is A11y?




In a nutshell that's what A11y is

  • Small changes in our understanding
  • With meaningful impact đŸŽ¯ for others

What is A11y to websites

  • It's thinking about All users

All Interactions

  • Mouse 🐭
  • Touch 👆
  • Keyboard 🎹
  • Screen Readers 🔊

All Visions

  • Poor Eyesights 👓
  • Colour Vision Deficiencies 🎨
  • Screen Glare ☀ī¸

All Differences

  • Cognitive 🧠
  • Sensory 👀
  • Physical â™ŋ


It's about no barrier to access

That Was The What

Why should you care?

In a nutshell

You should care because people matter 😁

This Is A Hard Question

"Blind People Don't Drive Cars"

But, I do have 3 different answers for you

  • A 😭 Answer
  • A 😐 Answer
  • A 🤩 Answer

A 😭 Answer


  • A persons disability shouldn't matter.
  • Visual 👀
  • Mental 🧠
  • Physical â™ŋ
  • The 😐 Answer

    Various Laws

  • UK & EU has laws that affect the public sector đŸĻ
  • USA has laws that allow suing 👨‍⚖ī¸
  • Lot's websites can ignore these laws 😐
  • But hopefully not for forever 🤩
  • The 🤩 Answer

    The Curb Cut Effect

    granite curb cut

    Nick-philly, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


    • World War 2 has come to an end ⚔ī¸
    • Lots of people came home broken 💔
    • And in the town of Kalamazoo, Michigan 🏙ī¸
    • The First Curb Cut was built 👷


    • People protested by making their own curb cuts 👩‍🎤
    • Taking jack hammers to the curbs ⛏ī¸
    • Pouring concert to create ramps 👷
    • They broke down barriers to their movement 🤘


    • Over 40 years later ⌛
    • Curb cuts become law in the US 👩‍⚖ī¸

    If you're like me

    You never thought of curb cuts as assistance technology â™ŋ

    Curb Cuts help everyone

    Not only for the mobility impaired

    • Pushing a pram or trolley 🛒
    • Carrying anything heavy 🏋ī¸â€â™€ī¸
    • Walking with joint pain ⚡
    • Getting home after a đŸģ

    That's the curb cut Effect

    • Enabling access for some 😊
    • Enhances access for all đŸĨ°

    Another Curb Cut Effect

    Closed Captions

    • Made for the hearing impaired đŸĻģ
    • Enables people to follow along easier 📖
    • Helps people with second languages ㊙ī¸
    • Allows you to watch netflix with noisy people đŸ“ē

    A11y Helps EVERYONE

    Because we all live in the same world

    Why I Care

    I never want to make someone feel disabled by a product I helped deliver!

    That Was The Why

    How can you help?


    Help normalize talking about a11y 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

    Be a voice for those often not considered đŸ—Ŗī¸

    UX/UI People

    Here are a few things to keep in mind

    • Mouse 🐭 & Keyboard 🎹
      • Element states, focus, hover, disabled
    • Touch 👆
      • Button sizes and clearance
    • Screen Readers 🔊
      • Content order being consistent across devices

    Copy People

    • How the screen reader should read visual UI 🔊
    • Express link purpose, by link text alone 🌟

    Dev People

    The web starts out a11y, until we break it đŸ’Ĩ

    Push back and learn how not to break it! ✨

    • Aria is powerful, but can make things worse 👷
    • Use native over custom đŸĻ„
    • Press Tab and understand the keyboard ⌨ī¸
    • Learn to use screen readers & the a11y tree 👂

    QA People

    Test with a screen reader 🔊

    Test everything with a keyboard 🎹

    Share your experience not just the bugs 🤝

    There is a lot to learn

    A few places to start

    Don't learn alone

    A11y Guild

    I'm going to be starting an a11y guild ✨

    Expect an announcement in slack soon 🎉

    Everyone is welcome to come along 😄


    Watch me present this presentation on YouTube