Accessibility Lipstick on a Usability Pig
Applying accessibility techniques to an unusable site is like putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how much you apply, it will always be a pig.
There are many ways in which a web site might be made inaccessible. Believe me, we’ve seen them all. Occasionally we are asked to conduct an accessibility evaluation on a site that is almost entirely unusable. Such efforts are usually pointless. No amount of technical accessibility can fix something that is not useful or usable.
Often the approach to poor usability is to throw more accessibility code at a site. Technical guidelines and solutions are used to attempt fixes for non-technical problems. The POUR principles are applied before considering usefulness and usability. And worse, poor usability is sometimes justified by declaring, “But it’s compliant!”
Types of accessibility lipstick commonly applied to usability pigs:
- Off-screen explanations or ARIA labels so a screen reader user might make sense of an overly complex form.
- Tabindex and keyboard interaction detection on <div> or <span> elements instead of using standard buttons or links.
- Custom widgets when native controls provide the same or sufficient functionality.
- Headers and id to [...]