Thoughts on an Accessibility “Get Well” Plan
Post from June 29, 2022, filed under Web Development.
Have you wondered how to anchor accessibility in an engineering team, one that isn’t yet producing accessible sites or apps?
The other week, I met with another LivePerson engineering lead on these questions, and later sat down to document options to start with. Here they are, for further refinement and discussion.
Hiring and Staffing
In general, hire and manage towards accessibility expertise with every developer, rather than hiring or singling out individuals; to me, the latter seems to bring particular problems, including the signal that accessibility was not everyone’s responsibility.
If you ask me whether this means to forego hiring an accessibility specialist in favor of having accessibility generalists—yes, that’s my preference. This is not to say specialists couldn’t be used for audits and trainings.
Accordingly, make accessibility part of the team’s hiring profile.
Short-term (goal: increase exposure to accessibility topics, plant concepts):
- Share—forward, present, discuss, apply—guidelines, like WCAG
- Share heuristics, like WCAG and IBM ones
- Share techniques, like Techniques for WCAG 2.1
- Offer trainings
- Share applicable regulations, like Section 508
- Enable—perhaps require, for certain roles and SDE/SWE levels—accessibility certifications
- Collect and document accessibility tools
- Add automated tests to CI/CD
Processes and Communication
- Explain and keep explaing the importance of accessibility in the profile and skill set of a modern frontend and full stack developer
- Add accessibility requirements to team coding standards
- Add accessibility testing to the Definition of Done
- Assign high priority to accessibility issues (bugs), and manage them accordingly
- Make accessibility testing (test UI with a screen reader) compulsory for new features
- Ask to share and discuss accessibility learnings in technical fora (like Communities of Practice)
❧ What would you add? Share your accessibility “get well” plans!
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering lead (currently manager for Developer Experience at LivePerson) and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.