Making Accessibility a Top Priority

May 04, 2016

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a conference on Web Design. It had been a long time since I had attended any industry event of such caliber. It was refreshing to hear all of the different speakers.

One of the highlights of the conference for me was a talk on Performance and Accessibility. Performance has been something that I have been looking at a lot more over the past few months.

Accessibility was one of those things that I always thought about but didn’t do enough research on.

The speaker of the talk was Marcy Sutton. She played a video in one of her slides about a person trying to load a website using a screen reader. I immediately sat up in my chair. The video was not like anything I had seen. It connected with me. I felt bad, watching that video made me feel like I should be doing more and doing more.

Marcy’s talk did a great jump of showcasing the importance of Performance and how it integrates into Accessibility. It was definitely a thought process that I never considered—that both of these things are so closely tied to each other.


As soon as I got back, I went looking for tools and ways I could highlight potential problem areas. The first thing that I started using was Accessibility Developer Tools by Google. This would allow you to run an accessibility audit on any page and give you a clear set of items to fix. It was a clean way to grab a few small wins and see where you stand on some basic best practices.

Google has a small course on accessibility that introduces tools and techniques for developers to easily ensure that websites are more accessible. The course is quick and will take about 2 hours to complete.

If you use Grunt in your workflow. I found this Grunt wrapper for a11y, automate your accessibility audits.

It is another chrome extension that is a tool to find Accessibility defects. It did flag some of the same things that Google’s Dev tools flagged, but this tool seemed to be a bit more thorough and brought some other issues to light.

Next Steps

I felt bad during the conference and reading some of the documentation on this topic. There are already a lot of good tools and practices out there I should have been incorporating into my workflows. It is not a topic as exciting as some new CSS features or a new framework.

But, I would want to thank Marcy Sutton for her talk and suggest that every developer should watch that video where she has a person using a screen reader.

John SiwickiWritten by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter