Djangocon: accessibility matters: building a better web - Lindsey Dragun

Tags: djangocon, django, python

(One of my summaries of a talk at the 2018 european djangocon.)

Lindsey runs the DisabledInTech slack channel.

For Web accessibility, see as a good intro. There are standards to help with accessibility and for many government instances, they’re mandatory.

Disabilities are often grouped in: visual, auditory, motor/physical, cognitive/neurological, language/speech.

There are other (more inclusive!) ways to group: permanent (born blind), temporary (like just being sick!), acquired (like ageing), societal (like lefthandedness). Notice how this comes much closer?

There are alternative input/output tools. Braille displays, eye trackers, foot pedals instead of mouse buttons, etc.

Important: think deeper. Categories can be desceptively simple. Users don’t always fall into just one category.


  • The web is sometimes like the letters at the eye doctor: “read the line with the smallest letters”.

  • Color contrast.

  • il1: what is the I, what the L, what the number? Dislexia? Bad font?

  • Make changes noticable. Feedback in forms, for instance. Which field contained the error?

The above list might make it look like accessibility is easy. It often isn’t.

How do I implement accessibility?

  • Avoid gimmicks. What’s popular on the web isn’t necessarily handy. Infinite scrolling in combination with a sidebar. When you scroll, you’ll never hit the sidebar again.

  • Think about how your users use your website.

  • Avoid user-hostile decisions. Auto-playing audio that’s loud, for instance.

  • Push back on inacessible decisions. Offer alternatives. Often, the bad decision wasn’t an explicit one.

  • Do “opposition research”: if your competitor’s website is more accessible, they can gain more customers! Likewise, you can gain customers by being accessible. Disabled persons often exchange information on such websites.

  • Reach out to your designers (tell them about “universal design”). Your design should take accessibility into account right away. (Everybody is happy about text with good contrast, for instance).

  • Words are important. Your written content matters as much as your visual content.

  • Try it out: navigate your own website with just your keyboard!

There are more advantages to accessibillity: good accessibility means good code!. You use the right header levels, for instance. Your css is clean. Google likes you, as the google crawler basically reads like a braille reader does.

There are browser extensions you can use to help you with it (see this older summary for some pointers).

The slides will be at

Photo explanation: details like a railing and some left-over pallets make it look realistic. logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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