What is web accessibility?

Accessibility helps disabled people use your products and services. Unfortunately, many websites are not designed and built properly, that makes them difficult or impossible for some people to use.

Web accessibility opens up your products and services to many more individuals, which in turn is good for business. International web standards define what you need to do for accessibility.

Why accessibility is important

Here’s what you need to know as a product manager

  • Make accessibility a priority for the team

    Learn what your team needs to do to make your services accessible.

    Each person on your team has their own specific responsibility to deliver accessible websites. It’s your job to have the overview of what needs to be done, this guide should help you with that.

    It can help to assign a dedicated accessibility champion on the team who makes sure everything is designed and built with accessibility in mind.

  • Accessibility takes time

    Make time to do accessibility right

    If you want to do accessibility right, you need to make sure your team has enough time to design and implement new features correctly.

    Make sure to reserve time in each sprint to test new features and to improve their accessibility. This includes sprint planning where you want to take possible accessibility requirements into account.

  • Learn what accessibility is

    Familiarise with the guidelines and best practices

    Make sure you know what accessibility is and where to find the guidelines.

    Most of accessibility is covered by the international WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standard. Get familiar with the guidelines and what it means to make your products ”accessible”.

    Read the guidelines and one of the many articles and books that cover accessibility, or follow an online course.

  • Don’t make accessibility an after-thought

    Accessibility should be part of your Definition of Done.

    If you want to do accessibility right, you need to bake it in to your process. Not as a backlog item or a fix afterwards, but in the Definition of Done.

    Make sure to put tests in place throughout the project, just as you would for performance testing or browser-compatibility.

    Automated tests are a good start, but they only cover about 30% of all the criteria. And you need to check the results for false positives and false negatives. You’ll also need to do manual testing and involve disabled people in your design process.

  • Adding a widget doensn’t make your website accessible.

    Full compliance cannot be achieved with an overlay.

    Overlay products can not help you become fully compliant with accessibility standard and they can not eliminate legal risk.

    Products marketed with such claims should be viewed with significant scepticism.

Legislation and guidelines

Different countries have different laws around accessibility. W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative has an extensive list of laws and policies around the world.

In general international laws refer to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).