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Kayla Sween
Kayla Sween

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The Problem with A11y After The Fact

It seems to be a common belief that we can design a pixel-perfect application, go through the entire development process, and then squeeze in a little accessibility after everything is done. This process may help you boost your Lighthouse score a bit but won't do much to help your users.

Accessibility shouldn't be an afterthought!

Automated testing doesn't catch everything.

Automated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) checkers will typically only catch the "low-hanging fruit," like insufficient color contrast, checking that an image has alt text, etc. Your application could pass every audit ran by an automated checker, but not catch things that negatively impact the usability of your application. For example, these tools cannot check the alt text for your images to ensure they properly describe what's in each image or convey the intent.

WCAG is a great place to start for accessibility testing, but developing an entire application and adding the WCAG cherry on top doesn't make it accessible.

You're making more work for yourself.

Trying to retrofit a web application with accessibility is, honestly, much more time consuming and frustrating than incorporating the four principles of accessibility from the beginning of your project. It makes your job (and the jobs of future developers working on your application) unnecessarily more difficult.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to try to shove accessibility concepts into an existing application in an attempt to make it a little more usable than it was before I touched it. What's worse is if the application wasn't written using semantic HTML. 😱

Keeping accessibility in mind when you start a project is an efficient use of your time and will benefit your users.

Key Takeaways

It's important to consider the spectrum of possible users for your site or application from the beginning. Designing for everyone early on is what makes a website accessible.

Always remember: designing and developing an application with accessibility in mind helps all users.

If you haven't already, check out my last blog post, Breaking Down POUR!

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