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The Importance of Semantics for Designers (and Developers)

taught by: Gerard Cohen

Session Summary

Semantics are the backbone of digital accessibility. Not just for developers, this is also crucial for designers, especially when expected to provide accessibility annotations.


It’s important that both designers and developers are familiar with the semantic meaning of elements. Choosing the right element, and using in the correct way, is just as fundamental to designers as it is developers. Understanding semantics is the key to unlocking great accessibility.

For designers, this session will introduce the importance of knowing the proper semantics of the elements used to design. If providing accessibility annotations, it is crucial to understand proper semantics so that accessibility is carried through from design to development.

For developers new to accessibility this will reinforce the importance of using the proper elements versus being tempted to create their own implementations. You will also learn to communicate better with designers and improve collaboration during the design transition.

For both audiences, you'll learn the benefits of starting with semantic elements; saving time by not having to reinvent/ re-engineer the wheel, reducing surface area for bugs, and being accessible from the start.

Practical Skills

  • Semantics are important to designers as well as developers. Understanding semantics will make you better designers and developers.
  • Semantics are important to understanding and navigating the web.
  • Misusing semantic elements can be as bad, or worse, than not using proper semantics.