Prioritising Accessibility issues

I was recently asked by a friend if there are any standard rules to set priority for accessibility issues for a website and that triggered me write-in this piece. 

In general, for an accessibility tester and when we read failure statements, everything sounds important, but it’s essential to prioritize issues since not all of the issues could be addressed one go; It’s fair for product managers to prioritise the effort. 

Why is it important to prioritise?

If we do not prioritise at the time of testing, we will be either asked to do it at a later stage or product team has to work on prioritising. If product team prioritise without consultation of accessibility team, chances are more for misinterpretation of what is important and what’s not from accessibility prospective. Prioritising is important because developers may not be able to address all of the issues at one go. 

How to set priority?

To begin with, leverage of “Levels” defined in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 since they are set as Level A (minimum), Level AA (should be achieved) and Level AAA (maximum level of compliance). This could be first consideration. 

Next consideration should be importance of the feature. This needs to be decided in consultation with business owners. Let’s if issues falls under WCAG’s Level AA but feature is very important and/or frequently used, then it should be flagged as high priority. If an issue falls under WCAG’s Level A but doesn’t really bother user’s usability, then it’s priority can be set to moderate. 

Another consideration should be effort needed to fix. Specially when accessibility practice is new in the organisation, it would be worth to have developers fix easy things first; that gives them an opportunity to taste the benefits of writing accessible code and provide them enough time to understand ways to write accessible code. Getting started with easy things will provide developers a sense of encouragement.  

In conclusion, it’s essential to prioritise Accessibility issues and should be in-line with business priorities.