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Building Sustainable Accessibility on Your Development Teams

taught by: Emma Hardman

co-presented by: Trenton Lawton

Session Summary:

In order for accessibility to truly take root in an organization, the developers who are building the product must understand how to build and test with accessibility in mind. Many agree that including accessibility into the development life cycle is the best way forward, but how do we do that? This talk will cover how Expedia has dealt with this process, and specifically look at how to enable development teams to truly own the accessibility of their product.


At many companies, accessibility knowledge is consolidated within a central team and accessibility is a QA/testing function that is considered at the end of the product development lifecycle. This means that inaccessible code may be pushed to the live site, putting companies at significant legal risk. In this traditional model, accessibility knowledge is centralized, and developers are not held accountable for the accessibility of their code. At Expedia, we believe that accessibility should be part of everyone’s job description and every person has a role to play in maintaining the accessibility of our products.

In order to prevent accessibility issues from impacting the customer experience and escape the constant battle of regression and refactoring that many large web companies deal with, it is vital that the people on the front lines of development have a thorough understanding of the principles and specifics of accessibility. This means working with developers and development teams to build a structure for accessibility where none existed previously.

In this class, the Expedia accessibility team will share the techniques and processes they use to build accessibility confidence and knowledge on individual development teams, allowing the accessibility of the product to be in the hands of the developers instead of a central team.

The class will cover the specifics of what we call the ‘self assessment’ process, including an in depth discussion on the specifics of training, practical skill building, development and feedback process that are in place. It will also cover a variety of automated testing techniques that are a key component to the success and sustainability of this approach including how to build an automation strategy based on your technology stack, release schedule, and team processes. Finally, we will share our lessons learned over the course of our multi-year journey to train product teams to understand and own accessibility testing as part of business as usual.

Practical Skills:

  • Developer accessibility skill building concepts
  • How to build accessibility into existing development practices
  • Automated testing techniques