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Individual mistakes and systemic failures

2 minutes read

Let's take, for instance, the omission of alt text—a common individual oversight in web development. This error, while impactful, is relatively straightforward to fix once identified. A quick edit, and you've improved the accessibility of your page.

But stopping there would be an even bigger mistake. We need to consider the systemic aspects. It's not just that you forgot to add alt text. It's also about lacking the awareness of its significance. This is a systemic failure.

Systemic failures arise from gaps in education and deeply ingrained bad practices within teams.

If none of your developers fully comprehend why alt text matters or when and how to implement it effectively, it creates a knowledge gap that perpetuates a cycle of inaccessibility. Errors are replicated across projects, compounding the barriers faced by users with disabilities.

Addressing these systemic failures demands a holistic approach, through training and education on accessibility standards, such as the WCAG. Effective collaboration between developers, designers, and content creators becomes critical to embedding accessibility into every stage of your development process.

Systemic failures require systemic solutions. And these require organisational commitment. It's suddenly not enough to fix individual errors. You need a coordinated effort to overhaul deeply rooted practices and prioritise accessibility as a core principle.

You may need to revise existing workflows, implement accessibility testing protocols and allocate resources for ongoing training and support.

But it's only through these efforts that we can prevent systemic failures. And preventing systemic failures will effectively eliminate most of the individual mistakes.

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