Onwards to 2024!
Phew. 2023 was quite a year for accessibility, and especially in the last quarter, I’ve been extremely busy. With the European Accessibility Act coming into force in 2025, there won’t be a lot of breathing room for accessibility professionals in the next 18 months, if not longer.
One of the greatest obstacles is probably the sheer number of well-trained accessibility professionals. We should have ten times as many people working on this as there are currently, but training people up for the task is difficult. Not because we don’t have clever people starting out with accessibility, but because the web is so complex and free flowing. You really need to understand the medium and the technology and design principles well to make good decisions for testing.
And all that happens at a time when code quality (and web designs, to be honest) is all over the place. It’s very challenging to learn this from a book, six to twelve months of practical experience is the absolute minimum time to get acquainted with the in’s and out’s of web technology and accessibility.
I’m not sure what we can do about it, the awareness of accessibility as a requirement seems to rise slowly, but we need programs that thoroughly teach accessibility in its practicality and complexity.
I wrote four blog posts since the last newsletter:
Use the accessibility shortcuts on iOS to speed up your testing workflow (Opens in a new window) and Inspecting websites and web views on iOS devices (Opens in a new window) are write-ups about testing websites and apps on iOS. This little series is missing an article using the Xcode accessibility inspector for more thorough inspection. It’s on my todo list.
Exclusive accordions exclude (Opens in a new window) is an article where I describe my dissatisfaction with the introduction of native “exclusive accordions” (where only one panel can be open at any given time) without any recourse for people who need or want to see multiple panels at the same time. It’s just not good enough to ship this feature without addressing cognitive accessibility needs.
It depends, indeed. (Opens in a new window) describes my thought about the need to be vague and respond to the needs and practicalities around web accessibility. There are always many ways to remove a barrier, what is practical, feasible, and efficient is different from project to project.
The new Accessibility Guidelines Working Group charter (Opens in a new window) is approved and WCAG 2 is now in maintenance mode at least until October 2025. WCAG 3 is now full steam ahead, in the next 2 years, the goals are:
Know what will and will not be part of WCAG 3,
have a timeline for delivering WCAG 3, and
have decided how WCAG 3 will be delivered (all at once, in phases, or as modules.)
This will be a very transitional period for WCAG where technology is about to change a lot. The charter still says WCAG 3 will be delivered in Q2/2026, but going from knowing the three things above to a full standard in 8 months feels ambitious. I guess let’s check back in two years to see how it’s going!
The WCAG 2 taskforce which makes changes to Understanding and Techniques seems off to a good starts in the meantime, with several changes. I personally would rather see the time and effort put into fixing normative language, but that’s a ship that has sailed.
Thanks to everyone who supports this independent writing, and exploring, and fixing WCAG. Special thanks to everyone who has signed up to support me through membership (Opens in a new window), too.
I wish you a happy holiday time and/or a good rest to go into the new year refreshed. I know I need it.
My primary social media/Fediverse/Mastodon handle is still @email@example.com (Opens in a new window), and you can also find me on LinkedIn (Opens in a new window) and Bluesky (Opens in a new window).
I also try to formulate more medium long posts on my microblog, which is published at micro.yatil.net (Opens in a new window) and can be followed on the Fediverse at @firstname.lastname@example.org (Opens in a new window).
(Yes, this is all quite complicated!)