If you design or develop websites and work with the code, you need to be knowledgeable of AODA legislation and how to comply with it, learn the WCAG standards, follow OISE style guides and accessible templates, and adopt the best practices for developing websites that are accessible to all audiences.
Most importantly, know and follow all the relevant web coding standards: if your code is standards-compliant, your site is already well on its way to being accessible to all.
The Principles of Accessible Websites
As a developer, you must follow Web standards to ensure the websites and applications that you produce align with the four principles of accessible technology, sometimes referred to by the acronym POUR. They state that your site must be
- Users must be able to find every item using one of their senses;
- Users must be able to interact with the site and all of its features;
- Content and functionality should be easy for anyone to follow;
Sites should work with various different technologies and consider future technologies.
Developer’s Action Plan
- Include accessibility in your planning from the start
- Understand the tools and techniques available
- Start with an accessible template
- Write accessible code from the beginning
- Test often
- Code for all adaptive technologies
- Develop your accessibility checklist. Helpful examples include the A11Y Projects’s WCAG Compliance Checklist, WebAIM’s WCAG 2 Checklist, and Education Commons’ Website Accessibility Checklist.
- Test your site often with good accessibility validation tools, to ensure quality.
- Learn how to write user stories for every website project, and be sure the stories you use include people with disabilities who will want to use your site.
- Stay familiar with evolving web standards and W3C Recommendations. Consider proposals and drafts as information to be aware of but not ready to be implemented. All W3C standards and drafts.
Using ARIA for Web Applications
If you are developing web applications or pages with extensive interactive functionality, consult the following resources to learn more about how to integrate Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) into your HTML code. If you are using tools that automatically generate website code, research their accessibility, including whether they support ARIA markup.
- W3C’s WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices page provides detailed steps for developing rich web application using ARIA, including sample code.
- W3C’s WAI-ARIA Design Patterns page contains a collection of recommendation for implementing specific web widgets such as accordions, dialogs and menus.
- The limitations of ARIA must also be taken into account: it may not be supported by all user agents, and if your HTML is correctly structured ARIA probably won’t be needed.