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The Many Shades of Grey

taught by: Naveesha Maharaj & Sachin Gupta


How many times have you asked yourself if an issue is a violation of accessibility standards or a best practice? As much as we all want an exceptional web experience for every user, we don’t have the resources to follow every best practice. We also want to make sure that our process is efficient and effective for all involved - let’s focus on clarifying some of the most confusing, debated and misinterpreted areas in the realm of accessibility requirements and best practices.

Some guidelines are crystal clear: All web pages need to have a title and all images need to have an alt tag. But other guidelines are subjective and open to a wide range of interpretation: tab order must follow a logical sequence, headings must be meaningful and text should be written as clearly as possible. How should we interpret logical, meaningful and clear? What do these guidelines really mean? These are some of grey areas of accessibility we’ll be exploring in this session. Although WCAG 2.0 has many well-defined checkpoints, as SME’s we still wind up asking ourselves “should this be a fail, and if it is a fail, what Success Criterion does this fail under, and at what level?!”. Do we follow the letter of the law, and go for a very technical interpretation of the guidelines? Or do we lean toward the spirit of the law and loosen up our interpretations as we learn to apply accessibility guidelines to new and evolving technologies?

In this session, we will go through some of the grey areas and discuss why some issues are considered best practice and what would potentially make them a failure. Sometimes our passion for accessibility will make us want to report and provide feedback on all issues! Speaking as SME’s, we know the feeling, but we need to be clear about what is a ‘Nice to have’ vs ‘What you MUST have’.

Practical Skills:

  • • Instructions and feedback on user input – what is the right amount?
  • Updating screen reader users on changes within the page
  • Is our UI predictable enough?
  • Does my label, alt text, link title, etc make sense?
  • Is it a button or a link?
  • Have I provided too much? (sometimes, in an attempt to create an accessible experience, we add too much and get in the user’s way, ie using so many headings on a page that they are a chore to get through)
  • Is my page design clean and perceivable enough?
  • When is the pause play actually required on decorative elements


  • None

Presentation Materials: