Think About Accessibility Before You Start Developing Your Web Site or Web Application
Have you ever found out that your web site or web application is not Section 508 compliant after you put all that work into it? Even worse, have you been given a short ultimatum to fix it?
At this point, there's nothing else you can do in order for legal compliance, but fix it. But there are lessons learned you can use in your next project. Consider accessibility before you start building your site.
When I tell people about accessibility, I always stress that it should be designed at the blackboard, when you outline your project, before you even write a line of code.
There is a lot you can do at this point. You can figure out which components and third party tools you are going to use, and determine if these are accessible. At this point, it will only take some market research, but if you implement a third party plug-in for example which does not meet your accessibility requirements, it is much more costly to fix it later or switch it out for an accessible one.
Also, if you use videos, have a plan to provide captioning. If you want to use audio, make sure you have a plan for transcription.
You will probably create your use cases before you start coding. Ensure that people with all types of disabilities will be able to benefit from your web application. Make sure, for example, that you don't rely on color only, or mouse actions. Add keyboard functionality, and ensure that you indicate user actions by using text besides color.
And there are many more examples, but probably you see the point. If you think about accessibility at the very beginning, you save yourself countless hours of headache, and of course, a big chunk of your budget.
Also, if you need to hire an accessibility specialist, it will be much easier to review your plans than fixing them later. You can still decide at the completion of your project to have an expert review it for accessibility, but you will most likely have less issues.