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You can't outsource accessibility

3 minutes read

This email is part of a larger series on believing six impossible things before breakfast.

Yesterday, we talked about how accessibility isn't time-consuming and expensive. Today, we'll tackle the next impossible thing on our list.

You can't outsource accessibility

I've heard it before. Hell, I've tried it before! I used to work in a small team and we didn't have a lot of time and resources to do everything. We had a constant stream of tasks getting pushed down our throats and we constantly had to re-prioritise our backlog. Tasks kept shifting around and quite often we didn't have the knowledge we needed to tackle some of them.

So we desperately looked for a way to outsource. One of the tasks we outsourced were accessibility issues that we didn't have the time to address properly.

The vendor doing the work did a great job delivering the fixes on time. We were thrilled. We thought that was that and we could keep working as usual.

Until next time when the same issues resurfaced! What the what?! We thought we were done with those!

Here's the thing!

Like I said before, accessibility isn't a technical problem! That means you can't fix it with a once-and-done fix.

We addressed the symptom, but not the cause. It's like taking pills for a head ache that gets worse and worse, without consulting a doctor to figure out the underlying cause. Yes, the head ache will go away for a while. But you haven't solved anything there.

Think about it. Your website is an ongoing project. It needs constant changes and updates. The work is never done. Any change you make may create new accessibility barriers. It’s this dynamic aspect of development that forces you to pay continuous attention to accessibility.

You could hire an outside vendor to work on it. They'll evaluate your site and fix everything they find, without needing much involvement from you.

You'll get an accessible website, but just like the head ache you don't treat, issues will come back with a vengeance. And that's because there's no way you can get any lasting results without treating the underlying causes.

For accessibility, the underlying causes could be any of the following:

  • lack of awareness
  • no accessibility knowledge in the team
  • inefficient processes
  • no guard-rails against releasing inaccessible features
  • no business support

And if you're thinking that you don't need to do the work or hire someone else to do it for you, and instead get an accessibility overlay that you can just bolt on your site and claim it's now accessible...think again!

The truth is you can't outsource accessibility because you can't outsource responsibility!

So what's there to do? Is there no solution?

You can make your website accessible!

And you can do it without outsourcing the work or spending an arm and a leg to do it.

We'll pick it up tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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.

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