Intro to Accessibility


  • Accessibility Broadly, creating an experience that is available to anyone and everyone
  • VoiceOver A screen reader that is built into apple computers

Learning Goals

By the end of this lesson, you will know/be able to:

  • define accessibility and explain why it’s important to us as developers
  • identify different user groups we should be developing for
  • gain some insight into how others might interact with the web that’s different than the way we do

What is accessibility

Accessibility on the web is all about creating a user experience that is available to anyone and everyone. We want to enable as many people as possible to use our applications, even when those users may be limited in some way.

The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental ability. When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.

This means that any new specifications or enhancements that come to the web are BY DEFAULT designed to be fully accessible to a complete audience.

Unfortunately, developers often use the tools we’re given in the wrong ways, unknowingly (or uncaringly) effecting the accessibility of their site in a negative way.

A quick example: not using semantic HTML tags. If you were to use a div instead of an article to wrap text for a news article, that means infinitely less to someone relying on a screen reader.

But for some reason we do it anyway!! So the good few souls out there that are really pushing for accessibility have even added additional attributes and APIs you can use to allow you to write your code the way you want, and still make it accessible.

e.g. if you really wanted to use your div tag instead of an article tag, you could do something like <div role="article"> and this would provide that same accessibility feedback as if you had used an article tag.

So we have all the tools to make our applications very accessible. While we won’t learn about all of them just yet, we will learn about what types of accessibility concerns actually exist, and gain some understanding of how others might be interacting with the web.

Types of Accessibility Concerns

Let’s talk about some types of limitations our users might have. We can categorize them into a couple of buckets:

  • auditory
  • visual
  • cognitive
  • mobility

For each of these types of limitations:

  • discuss a potential limitation
  • what kind of web content or devices might they have difficulty interacting with?
  • how might you adjust your web content to alleviate that issue?

Station One

Experiment I - Using a Screen Reader

Using the built-in screen reader on your machine, VoiceOver, close your eyes and navigate through the following two codepens, one at a time:

Here are some helpful VoiceOver commands:

  • Starting/Stopping VoiceOver: command + F5 (if you do not have an F5 key, you can navigate to  > System Preferences > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Enable VoiceOver)
  • Moving your VoiceOver cursor: control + option + arrow key (ie. control + option + right arrow)
  • Moving your VoiceOver cursor into your web page’s content: control + option + shift + down arrow
  • Moving your VoiceOver cursor out of your web page’s content: control + option + shift + up arrow

Note: use your screen reader very slowly, and really listen to what it’s telling you. It will remind you of the commands to enter/navigate a particular piece of content.


  • What effect does the way we write our HTML have on a screen reader?
  • What was difficult about using a screen reader?
  • Did you cheat and open your eyes?

Experiment II - Color Blindness

Install a colorblind simulator for Chrome. Try one (or both) of the following:

Navigate to some of your most visited sites – especially those that have some sort of notifications. (You can also look at design sites like Dribbble)


  • What would be difficult about navigating the web while color blind?
  • What might you do to help the color blind more clearly interact with your applications?

Station Two

Experiment I - Tabbing

Watch the following video up until the 9:50 mark.


  • What are some key takeaways from this video snippet?
  • What can you do to make sure your page is accessible just through the keyboard?

Go to the Enterprise Car Sales website and try to navigate it just by tabbing around with your keyboard.


  • What was your experience like? Was anything frustrating or confusing about the process? What could you do to solve the frustrations you encountered?
  • How was the focus on your current selection? Did you tab into the drop down menus for selecting a car make and model?

Experiment II - Accessible Text

Check out the following site that replicates what it could be like to read text with Dyslexia.

Read the following article on our good font friend, Comic Sans!

Read the following article on strategies for making text more accessible.


  • What strategies for accessible text could you implement?
  • How might you accommodate those with dyslexia while maintaining the original experience for those without?


Browser vendors are beginning to work some accessibility checks directly into our good friend, dev tools. Let’s see what we can learn from them!

  • Open up the following Turing lesson plan, and open up your dev tools panel
  • Click on the ‘Audits’ panel of dev tools
  • Select the following settings to run an accessibility check on the page
  • Click ‘Run Audits’ (your dev tools may disappear for a while, or your screen may go blank, just wait it out)

Read through the passing, failing and manual audits:

  • What accessibility concerns have come to light?
  • What strategies may you have learned based on the failing audits? Passing audits?

Exit Ticket

What are 3 easy and actionable accessibility steps you can take in all of your projects from here on out?

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