With the subject matter creating such a strong division between the sides of for and against, all discussions ultimately degrade into chaos and becomes a game of who can shout the loudest.
After reading through their thread and a reactionary blog post from Aaron Gustafson, I completely understand where Rach is coming from, many people still don't fully understand the arguments for and against Progressive Enhancement and instead of reasonably looking at each side's views we become pubescent teens unable to have a thoughtful discussion on the matter.
Accessibility will always be a hot topic, and the Web Industry is no exception. When we think of Web Accessibility though, what are we actually referring to? Well, if we're taking the classic definition of accessibility then the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative describes Web Accessibility as...
Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.
However, I, like many others describe Web Accessibility as a much broader subject and being the inclusion of all users, no matter their:
- Physical or Mental capabilities;
- Device and browser used;
- Connection speed or quality;
- and any other unknown factors about them.
Based on this definition, you can start to understand why people are so protective over the subject, is it not our duty to cater for as many people as possible?
A person (a “service-provider”) concerned with the provision of a service to the public or a section of the public (for payment or not) must not discriminate against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service.
That being said, a lot of people misconstrue this notion to justify their development stack.
- page being left between requesting the base image and the script/noscript image
- browsers that pre-load pages they incorrectly predict you will visit
- network errors, especially on mobile devices
That's 1.1% of the entire user base for the gov.uk website, which caters for user's of varying backgrounds and origins, handling typically around 10k users every 5 minutes. Whilst every website will have different levels of traffic, I'd go out on a limb to say gov.uk has one of the highest requirements for Accessibility in the web and provides a solid baseline for us to work from.
Now, if we're focusing at purely the financial concerns, one could argue whether 1.1% of traffic is actually worth supporting.
It all depends on the costs
If you're telling me its going to take a few hours to create support then I'm sure there wouldn't be a problem, however, if we're taking a couple of weeks then that might be a different story. Assuming your hourly rate is £50 per hour and you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week then £150 is far different to £4000.
The main thing to remember here is the decision should be on a case by case basis, rather than a blanket yes or no. The next time you come onto a project, ask yourself:
- What is the budget for this project?
- What are the time scales we're working towards?
- What are the costs to do so?
In addition, I'd like to think the next time we see opinionated posts such as Josh's, we approach them with less pitch forks and instead try to weigh up both sides of the coin to come to mutual agreements. Let's work together, we're better than this.
- EN 301 549 - Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe.
- The UK Equality Act 2010 in digital format;
- Equality Act 2010 guidance information by the GDS team;
- The True Cost of Progressive Enhancement by Aaron Gustafson;
- An introduction on how to make your service accessible by the GDS team.
- The A11Y Project, a community-driven effort to make web accessibility easier.
Until next time 👏