Accessibility on the Web vs. Real Life

Our customers, our users, are all people. They all have the same customer needs—whatever those customer needs are. They all have money that spends the same way. They are all just like you, except in the ways that they are not. They all deserve equal amounts of our respect. The only difference between these groups of people is the attitude we take when serving them.

Frankly, it’s none of our damn business why someone wants your website to work without a keyboard or a mouse, or on a screen reader or a Braille output. When you walk into the local grocery store, nobody greets you at the door and tells you that the store won’t work for you because you’re wearing glasses. Neither you nor your business should expect your audience to step up and voluntarily tell you what accessible technology they use, or why, or anything about their medical history, just so you can sell them socks, or a mutual fund, or a house.“Reframing Accessibility for the Web” by Anne Gibson

I’ve had a hard time convincing the people that pay me that spending the extra effort to make a site more accessible is worth it. It’s hard to tell them that it’s just the right thing to do and that it makes the site better for all users.

I really like the comparison to a brick and mortar store Anne Gibson makes. A grocery store isn’t going to not build a ramp because the percentage of customers that use a wheelchair is small. A restaurant isn’t going to refuse service to a blind person.

It’s ridiculous to think we shouldn’t be taking the—honestly, insignificant amount of—time to make a site accessible. If we’re writing semantic, standards-based HTML and using progressive enhancement, we’re already 90% of the way there.