The most efficient and effective way to get an accessible website or software application is to incorporate accessibility requirements and practices into the development process. It is a mistake to leave accessibility until after initial development has been done. Responding to accessibility correctly requires elevating accessibility as a priority and dedicating adequate technical, personnel and financial resources for it.
Agile Development and Accessibility
Agile development is a process developing software using iterative, incremental work progressions called “sprints”. Within this process, accessibility needs to be regarded as a requirement for every line of code. Developers must have enough accessibility expertise to catch errors as they arise and correct them immediately. Automatic and manual testing are used continually during this process, and a product can’t be considered to be complete if there are accessibility “bugs”.
Elements of Successful Accessibility in Development
- Developers receive training in accessibility requirements, techniques and best practices;
- Developers conduct their own testing for basic elements of accessibility;
- Accessibility development tools and accessibility technical experts are used;
- Principles of Universal Design are understood and followed; and
- User stories with people with disabilities are employed.
“7 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about Accessibility”, Jesse Hausler, Principal Accessibility Specialist at Salesforce.
“Incorporation of Accessibility into the IT Lifecycle: Identifying the Needs Users with Disabilities, Best Practices, and Agile Development”, Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series, Tuesday, September 25, 2018.
Microsoft offers free tools for integrating accessibility into development, Accessibility Insights.
Section508.gov includes a rich section of resources on incorporating accessibility into development.