Who you really need to convince to develop more inclusively

Spoiler: It’s not your client.

Accessibility and inclusion within the development sphere has had a tumultuous past. It was always seen, at least in my industries, as an additional task to check some boxes for before you launched. You checked things like core contrast, made sure images had alt tags, and other fairly basic tasks.

Accessibility within development exceeds far beyond that, however. The language content creators use can detract from the readability of a site or product for those with learning disabilities, buttons that are too small can cause issues for those with motor skill disabilities, or that on-hover dropdown could be totally inaccessible to someone using a keyboard.

All of the above was seen as something that needed to be pitched to or sold to a client as additional development work. It was also a pitch that was more often than not declined, denied, or ignored as it “wasn’t worth the cost as we don’t have disabled users.”

Ignoring that reasoning for the sake of answering this posts’ main question, this is the totally wrong way to approach accessibility.

It should be your job as a developer to build things with inclusion in mind. When building components and pages, ensuring contrast, keyboard usage, large click areas, etc. is on you, the developer. You don’t need sign off to bolster your own skillset by making what you develop more accessible. It just makes you a better developer. Then what you build is already accessible. No sign off. No extra cost. It’s just better.

The people that need convincing of this are your own developers, designers, and content writers that are out there working for clients who may not value or understand accessibility or what it takes to make something accessible.

Before your next meeting where you are thinking of pitching accessibility as an additional cost or line item, take a moment to pitch it to your dev team as a requirement, not an add-on. Changing how we think about creating products to make them inherently more accessible means a greater web for everyone at, ideally, little to no cost or overhead to those you’re building for.