Welcome to A11y

Dear Accessibility Newcomer,

So you’ve gotten yourself into a project that requires accessibility. That big scary word comes along with the acronyms Section 508 or WCAG. You drop a few search terms into your favorite search engine thinking you can figure out this accessibility thing in an afternoon and have an answer before tomorrow morning. But in a world where we want clear guidance and battle-hardened code snippets at the end of a few keystrokes, you find nothing but conflicting opintions and technical specifications.

You feel deterred. Maybe you’ll leave accessibility to the specialists. After all, users with disabilities and special needs seem like just a mystery. But we need you. If you want to design solutions and craft code that does not exist, we have challenges ready for you. And guess what? You can use JavaScript! If you want to make the web better for everyone, we have a place for you. Welcome to A11y.

Oh, you may not know what a11y means. That stands for accessibility – 11 letters between the “a” and “y”. Get it? So why do we need you?

Expanding the Body of Knowledge

The accessibility community needs a body of knowledge that the Web community can rely on for correct information plus design and code samples that evolve along with the Web. We need your help knowing what makes sense, what questions you have and what solutions work best for the busy web worker.

Conflicting Opinions

In the accessibility world, we’re great at handing out different opinions on how to solve problems. We just want to help you see how empowering accessibility can become for not just you, but all the users of your site. You can help us stay pragmatic, test our assumptions and create better solutions to accessibility challenges.

A11y is Everywhere

Most of the time, web designers and developers try to corral web accessibility into one phase of a project. But that doesn’t work because accessibility effects everything. It can’t fit it into a simple list because it’s just as much part of the research process as it is design code and testing. You can help because we need people with skills and passions in all those areas so we make accessibility happen seamlessly.

Your Voice Matters

Read some of the popular accessibility email lists, blogs or Twitter, and you’ll see many of the same names. Many web workers involved in the accessibility community have been here for awhile. In addition to that veteran talent, we need to find and cultivate new voices. That’s you! Speak up and ask questions – we want to hear from you!

Going Faster into the Unknown

Much of the Web fails when it comes to accessibility. I’m not talking about advanced techniques, but basic foundations like keyboard accessibility. Trying to find cutting-edge examples of methods like using ARIA well to power a JavaScrript-based web application is even harder. We should not see this as a frustration, but opportunity. We need you to help us lay the groundwork for a more accessible Web. If you want to design what’s never been designed and write code that’s never been written, you’ve found the right niche.

You’ve found a place where what you do can make the Web work everywhere for everyone. We look forward to getting to know you. Welcome to A11y.

Yours in accessibility,
Dave