6. Hiring Accessibility Staff
In terms of web accessibility, it is the web developer who must be knowledgeable in implementing accessibility in web content. As much as others may understand how and where barriers can affect access, it is the developer who makes accessibility happen. A web developer usually has a university-level computer science degree and/or special training in developing for the Web.
Currently, there are few formal technical programs that provide anything more than cursory coverage of web accessibility. As such, web developers who are qualified to implement accessibility are often self-taught. Finding a web developer with expert accessibility skills can be a challenge, and it may mean settling for a person who simply knows the basics about web accessibility. If you plan to hire a web/IT accessibility specialist, hiring web developers with knowledge of accessibility is less of an issue, since the specialist can oversee the work of the developers and guide or train them (see the next page for further details).
Web Developers’ Accessibility Skills
In addition to the skills that might be part of a standard job description for a web developer, an Accessible Web Developer should also have these characteristics:
- Good understanding of WCAG 2.0, or local accessibility guidelines
- Knowledge of WAI-ARIA (preferably skilled use of)
- Ability to effectively use JAWS or another screen reader
- Familiarity with mobile screen readers
- Familiarity with automated web-accessibility checking tools
- Familiarity with browser-based accessibility-testing tools (plugins, etc.)
- Knowledge of accessibility issues in technologies such as Flash and Java
- Knowledge of cross-browser accessibility considerations
If you can find a web developer with expert understanding and all the skills needed to implement accessibility, hire that person. But, chances are you will find people with some, but not all of these characteristics. Hire the ones with the broadest backgrounds who are resourceful enough to find answers to accessibility problems based on familiarity with web accessibility as a whole.
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