Sina Bahram

Here is the #accessibility email I sent @37signals, responding to #a11y is hard. #fb

Thanks for this feedback. Also, thank you for the workarounds, as they stand now. As I start to work with more clients on large and cross-institutional projects, I’d like you to know that this will be a serious detractor for me. In fact I no longer can, or will, stand for us using it on any future projects moving forward.

I’d like to respond to your point about a small development team. There’s a rather false premise there, which is rather important not to operate under. The premise is that accessibility is something additional that happens, therefore requiring an additional layer of testing, new features, etc. While this is sometimes true for complex interactions e.g. adding aria to complex elements or making an advanced dynamic control keyboard accessible, the amount of effort is often times quite minimal. I can say this with certainty, being a developer myself, and having both discussed the issue with and shown dozens of developers on how to achieve accessible an outcome.

Furthermore, with respect to things like basic images, links that are just not labeled, even with a simple title attribute, proper use of headings, and so forth, we are quite literally talking about a handful of characters of difference in whatever templating backend you are using to affect tens of thousands of pages for the better, used by millions of users.

Here is a simple example.

A simple inaccessible image link, per the way you do things:

<a href=”somewhere”><img src=”anImage.png” /></a>

An accessible version of that same thing:

<a href=”somewhere”><img src=”anImage.png” alt=”logout” /></a>

I added 12 characters of code. In short, there is a handful of changes that can be made in less time it will take you to respond to my email that has the capability to affect many users for the better. This is also not restricted to users with functional limitations or disabilities, since accessibility improvements have massive benefits for mobile, proper responsive/fluid designs, folks on slower connections or spotty wifi, etc. etc.

I’m sorry if this communication sounds frustrated, but I think it’s important to realize that we should be realistic about the amount of effort required, and realize that the basics are just minutes to hours away. For your level of scale and size, this is a minimal cost so small as to be hard to even accurately measure. This is putting aside the fact that it’s A. the right thing to do, B. the act of following proper coding practices per any standard you wish to measure against, and C. has many emergent beneficial effects.

I hope the level of accessibility of basecamp can improve soon, and I hope this message shows you that it’s not a huge complex technical undertaking to get the basics right.

Take care,

President, Prime Access Consulting, Inc.
Twitter: @SinaBahram
Company Website: http://www.pac.bz
Personal Website: http://www.sinabahram.com
Blog: http://blog.sinabahram.com

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