A common accessibility platform
Consistent implementation across browsers is probably the single most important factor for success of any given web feature. We've seen this with CSS, which was mostly unused because the leading browsers had different implementations. In large part thanks to an advocacy effort from WaSP, browser vendors started to harmonize CSS implementations and CSS became the norm.
Now, we need to make accessibility as successful and commonplace as CSS. In order for this to happen, the community of web professionals needs to advocate for a consistent accessibility platform in all browsers. In most cases, it is not a question of new features, but of existing and well-understood features that are not implemented or are broken in many browsers. This includes features such as keyboard navigation, the display and use of alternate text, accessibility APIs, etc. For example, let's consider the following markup:
<title>Test of rendering alt text</title>
<h1><img src="welcome.png" width="100" height="100" alt="Welcome to my web site!" /></h1>
When the image cannot be downloaded, web browsers will render the preceding markup as follows:
If you were a content author who invested the time to write alternate text and it displayed as shown above, would you continue to author alternate text?
Browser vendors understand the value of consistent implementations. However, the resources necessary to fix accessibility bugs compete with resources needed for developing new sexy features.
There needs to be more of a balance in favor of resources directed towards accessibility, and it is up to us in the community of web professionals to champion web accessibility to browser vendors. As web professionals it is up to us to help browser vendors prioritize features and make the kind of inclusive web we can be proud of.
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