Accessibility Helps Everyone: Dispelling the Accessibility Myths

Keynote Speaker
Sponsored by

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Abstract: Explore several of the myths that often keep digital products from being accessible and how to thwart those myths.

Description: 508 compliance “…requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities.”

“Making our sites accessible starts with the understanding that people access the web differently, and continues with every member of the team ensuring their output is inclusive.”— Laura Kalbag, Accessibility for Everyone

Although generally thought of as something only important to the “disabled”, considering accessibility for digital products improves everyone’s experience. This is true regardless of their particular abilities. Instead of treating accessibility as a checklist or afterthought, it’s important to build it into every decision being made in a technology project. Like many requirements that are commonly thought of as something included for a niche audience, accessibility is something that not only addresses the needs of the deaf or blind, it broadens the scope of how well all users interact with your product.

This session will examine many of the myths that have built up around the ideas of creating accessible digital products and how to move beyond them.

Introduction: What is “accessibility”
Accessibility is far more than just accommodating to a small audience of users with “special needs”. At its core, accessibility is about making sure that as wide an audience as possible can use the products you have worked so hard to create.

To begin with, this session will quickly examine what accessibility actually means, and the three different stages of accessibility in digital products.-History of digital accessibility: Why the importance of accessibility has often been overlooked.-What… me worry?: Why accessibility should matter to everyone designing and developing digital products.-Accessible → Inclusive → Universal: The three stages of accessible products.

Seven Myths of Accessibility
Although by no means the only myths that have built up around the limitations of making digital products accessible, these seven crop up most regularly. In this session, Jason will examine each myth individually, expose why they are not true, and talk about how to dispel them.

  1. Myth: Accessibility only helps the “disabled”.
  2. Myth: Accessibility is just about the visual and auditory.
  3. Myth: If we are 508 Compliant, we are accessible.
  4. Myth: Accessibility compliance is a checklist.
  5. Myth: Accessibility is the designer’s job.
  6. Myth: Accessibility takes too much time & costs more.
  7. Myth: Making a product accessible limits design possibilities.

Conclusion: We are all differently abled
To sum things up, Jason will return to the notion that accessibility only affects people who have been diagnosed with a disability. Instead of considering statistics of the number of people who are blind or deaf, he will show that accessibility is about considering the spectrum of abilities everyone has, and how we can design better digital products to meet those needs.