December Accessibility (A11Y) Talks

Drupal Drop wheelchair moving toward Drupal 8 drop logo

As an early holiday present, for December's meet-up we had a very special accessibility guest, Heydon Pickering who chatted about "Prioritizing Accessibility.” For those of you who are veterans of the world of website accessibility, you probably already know a lot about what Heydon has contributed to our field. But for those of you new to this field, let me take a quick minute to give you some more background on our speaker.

Heydon is essentially one of the grandfathers of accessibility design and development. He has written and coded a ton of useful things including his Inclusive Design Patterns book (that I highly recommend) and the blog series Inclusive Components as well as his latest GitHub repo inclusive design checklist. If that was not enough, Heydon writes and edits for one of the most popular web design blogs in the world, Smashing Magazine. And works with The Paciello Group, focusing on accessible User Experience Design.


We can't do it all, so we need to prioritize

We can't do everything that we want to do in terms of design and development because we all have certain constraints. We have project budgets, so we don't have an infinite money. We have project time frames, so we don't have an infinite amount of time. And we have limited resources in general staffing and technology and endorsements, plus we have personal obligations, so we can only do so much each day. But the problem is not really with any of that. The problem is the things that we seem to have chosen to do are not the important things. According to Heydon, we have gotten our priorities wrong.

Things we should NOT prioritize in web design and development

  • Nuances of one shade of color vs. another very similar color (beyond if the color passes WCAG 2.0 AA requirements).
  • Integrating latest flavor of tech "hotness" for the sake of using something new, not because it is actually needed.
  • Spending time on small performance gains, such as optimizing CSS selector performance.
  • Optimizing images, when we should just be using less images on our websites.
  • Pixel perfection is not going to happen on websites, so stop wasting so much time on it.

Prioritize the real things

  • Think outside yourself when designing and coding. Get in touch with the reality of the world and its varied users and do actual user testing when possible.
  • What you prioritize says a lot about you and about what you've experienced and about about the kind of problems that you've encountered. Because if you think that you've got the space and you've got the time to worry about these tiny little refinements (like drop-shadow) then you've probably not had a life of crisis.
  • Review the inclusive design checklist for more concrete examples of things you should prioritize when designing and building a website.

When you prioritize you have to compromise. You have to weigh things up. You have to decide what's important and the important thing in the web is to make sure that most people get a decent experience. That's more important than a few people getting an excellent experience.

- Heydon Pickering


YouTube Video

A11Y Talks December 2017 - Heydon Pickering - Prioritizing Accessibility

Full text transcript of the video

Drupal Accessibility Group

Join the Accessibility group on for hints, tips, discussions, and patch proposals to help make Drupal more inclusive.

Next Month

Date: January 24th, 2018 (12pm ET)
Topic: Embracing Plain Language for Better Accessibility
Speaker: Ashley Bischoff (