I recently passed the exam to become a certified Web Accessibility Specialist. It’s been quite a journey! About three years ago I had the same perspective on accessibility as most UI/UX/Frontend folks: add accessibility if you can, but no need to keep it ‘front of mind’. About that time, however, I began to hear more and more stories of inaccessible web interfaces and the difficulties they caused. It became clear that accessibility was a critical part of web design and development, and that ignoring it was at least lazy and at worst, criminal (in the case of Fed contractors, literally so).
As my perspective shifted, so did my ui/design/dev. When setting up the website you’re reading right now, for example, I started by running it through the WAVE tool from webaim.org to catch accessibility issues. And soon after that, I was applying fixes to this theme’s PHP files and adjusting CSS to bring colors into acceptable contrast range.
This is not to say that every web interface I’ve touched since then has been 100% accessible. Many of the problems — such as legacy backend code, or sites with an inaccessible color palette — are so fundamental that they can take months or years to fix. So sometimes the best we can do is keep chipping away, knowing that we’re inching closer to an accessible web future.