Accessibility diaries – Part 1

To wrap up the first month of work as accessibility consultant for one of Italy's major banks, I share a few things I learned.

Background

The Stanca Law or Disability Law (9 gennaio 2004, n. 4) has been updated. It now applies to all public companies offering services through websites or mobile applications and have had an average turnover of 500 million euros in the past three years. The law, which scope was previously limited to public administration websites only, makes it compulsory for companies to comply with the WCAG 2.1 (Level AA) guidelines. In case of failure to comply, the fine is up to 5% of the turnover.

Things I learned

Awareness is the best starting point

Consulting over accessibility starts with working on our own limits and prejudices. Trying to think about how people with disabilities might access the web is hard. It’s easy to assume and get it wrong. Luckily, many are generous enough to share their experiences online.

The biggest obstacle is mindset

Until it changes, it’s going to be difficult to admit there are accessibility issues and there need to be changes.

Money

Most people understand the accessibility issues and are willing to make changes, to learn why some patterns are not accessible and what to do instead. Then, someone else in higher roles might decide what’s feasible in a specific timeframe, and the matter can become one of money.

Words matter

Unsurprising. Any use of the word “normal” should be banned. And so should the concept of us and them.

Grey zone

When accessibility issues can be solved with usability best practices instead of specific success criteria, it becomes very difficult to get approval and proceed with remediations. It’s a pity, because people with cognitive impairments would benefit greatly from interfaces being more usable and intuitive.

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