Use the arrow keys to navigate between menu items.

Accessibility without the cheat codes

3 minutes read

A few years ago, I had peaked at 84kg. I'm a small guy, 168cm, so needless to say I was overweight. I wasn't feeling well, barely slept, I was constantly stress-eating and the most exercise I got was when I was walking my dog around the house.

I was heading towards a cliff and could definitely feel it. It was time to get in shape, physically and mentally. I had set myself a goal to lose 10-15kg.

But what I didn't do is set a crazy deadline like lose 15kg in one month through committing to an extreme diet and intense daily workouts.

Getting in shape doesn't happen instantly. It can't. Not if you want to keep the weight off after you lost it. Instead, I began with small, achievable targets. I started with going to the gym twice a week, for half an hour to an hour. Once I got used to that, I went three or four times a week. It took over three months before I got into that rhythm and I started going every week day, spending about an hour and a half every day.

No cheat codes. No shortcuts. Just small and consistent increases in duration and intensity as I built strength and endurance gradually. The weight came off as a result of this process.

Just as there are no cheat codes and shortcuts in getting in shape, tackling web accessibility requires a step-by-step approach. It's gradual and doing it right shouldn't lead to burnout or discouragement.

This is what's worked for me when I started to introduce web accessibility into an existing product development process:

  1. Have a clear vision. I wanted to understand where we wanted to take the product and what accessibility meant for that.
  2. Break it down. Setup clear KPIs and identify the outcomes we wanted to achieve together with the tasks that we'd need to tackle to get us there.
  3. Prioritise. Choose tasks based on real impact first and ease of implementation second. I often underestimated the impact quick wins had in building momentum.
  4. Keep moving. Consistency is key. Regular, small steps are more effective than sporadic big pushes.
  5. Learn and adapt. You'll fail. That's ok. Figure out what went wrong and treat that as a learning opportunity to refine your process.
  6. Celebrate progress. It could be as simple as sharing positive user feedback or tracking improvements over time. The small wins boost morale and reinforce the importance of accessibility efforts. Please don't skip this! Your team will thank you for it.
  7. Involve your team. Accessibility is everyone's responsibility, not just a single person's job. Commitment comes from having choice, so bring in people into decisions about accessibility as early as possible.

Here are the rules I live by:

  • Small tasks aren't small at all.
  • Momentum beats perfection.
  • Consistent leaps will get you farther than one big jump.

Yes, these apply to web accessibility and other areas at the same time. Like getting in shape. In the end, I lost almost 20kg. It took a little under a year, during which I felt like a new person. I was sleeping like a new-born every night, I felt energised during the entire day and I enjoyed being myself, fully there and present for anything I was doing.

Did you enjoy this bite-sized message?

I send out short emails like this every day to help you gain a fresh perspective on accessibility and understand it without the jargon, so you can build more robust products that everyone can use, including people with disabilities.

You can unsubscribe in one click and I will never share your email address.