# Guide to Accessible Web

# Consider your HTML, no matter your framework

HTML is not an after-thought, it’s not a ‘solved problem’, it’s not something you learn once and never have to study again. Especially in the world of web apps, it’s worth surveying the capabilities of today’s HTML and the affordances it can bring to every user.

# Accessibility Checklist for HTML

  1. Landmarks: provide familiar touch points that users can jump to
  2. Semantics & Roles: give every element semantic meaning
  3. Widgets: allow everyone to use your controls
  4. Attributes: sometimes sprinkling aria- attributes everywhere makes things less accessible

# Landmarks: where?

# The main content

Do you ever skip the intro on Netflix? Imagine having to sit through a 2 minute sequence every time if that button didn’t exist. We’re not interested: we want the main part of the show. Every episode has the timestamp of when the real show starts, and that’s what this skip button jumps ahead to.

The <main> element is similar. It holds the primary content that the user is interested in. The user can skip ahead. Past repetitive stuff like navigation links and legal text, and so these should be kept outside of <main>.

Visually it’s usually easy to find the navigation bar — it’s up top or in a sidebar, and holds a series of links. But there's no rule here (find the thing with lots of links inside), so we need a specific HTML element: <nav>.

Like the skipping to the main content, nav is like pressing the menu button on a remote.

# Searching

Again in the world of Netflix, searching is a common task. What if you had to scroll through 50 movie posters to get to the search box? You would probably curse or give up.

Adding the role attribute with "search" adds it as a landmark, allowing people to jump straight to the search and quickly get searching.

# Articles of interest

# Headers and footers

What's the difference between a header and footer? Well, headers appear at the top and footers at the bottom, right?

# Heirarchy of importance

What’s the most important part of the page is a good question to ask. But so is: what’s of less importance? What is acting as support to a bigger element of the page?

Using <aside> can let browsers know that what is inside is supporting content. It’s not essential, but it could be interesting if someone wants to dive in deeper.

# Roles: what?

# Widgets: how?

# Suggested workflows

  • W3C Landmarks Guide and Example
  • Accessible Developer Guide aims to “bridge the gap between providers of websites and users with special needs.”
  • A Web for Everyone book by Sarah Horton & Whitney Quesenbery — “This comprehensive playbook provides a user-centered view of how not only to design for those with diverse needs, but also to ultimately reach everyone more effectively. By just applying even a fraction of the design principles in this book, you could not only widen your audience to new members, but also deepen the engagement of your existing user base.” — Christian Rohrer, Chief Design Officer, McAfee
  • Accessibility for Everyone book by Laura Kalbag is “an enjoyable and practical introduction to accessibility, covering everything from background knowledge to front-end implementation (and many things between).” — Léonie Watson
  • Deque’s Axe tool can catch many accessibility infringements, and is available as extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
  • A list of all the rules that Axe catches — perhaps useful as a standalone checklist
  • Deque University offers Online Courses with in-depth knowledge about accessibility, ranging from small focused lessons, to a comprehensive curriculum that can help you get professionally certified.
  • ARIA Design Pattern Examples is a huge list of ARIA-compliant implementations from Alerts to Date Pickers to Toolbars to Slider controls to Carousels.
  • About HTML semantics and front-end architecture — “Content-layer semantics are already served by HTML elements and other attributes. Class names impart little or no useful semantic information to machines or human visitors unless it is part of a small set of agreed upon (and machine readable) names – Microformats.”
  • Marking elements as the current one using aria-current