Too hard is the worst excuse

Untold hours are spent by web designers and developers to make sure their creations work in different browsers and platforms. They may curse and mutter and otherwise cast aspersions upon the creators of various browsers - in fact, I think it's in the job description - but they do it.

They research and experiment to learn workarounds, which are then used on their future work. All this is to be sure as many people as possible have the best experience using the website.

On the other hand, accessibility is seen as some special extra feature that must be cost justified, and then isn't addressed because it is "too hard" so it "costs too much".

Accessibility is no harder and no more expensive than any other part of web development. Everything is hard and expensive if you don't know how to do it, and it's not hard when you know how. So learn how to do it, just like you learn to do anything else on the web. There is no shortage of useful information on the web; for instance, here's a place to start: WaSP InterAct Curriculum: Accessibility.

If you can't be bothered to learn what it takes to make websites accessible, then don't bother to call yourself a professional.

Note: Accessibility means making sure your sites work for people who use screen readers, speech-to-text software, specialized hardware, and other adaptive technologies. It means taking into account color-blindness and eye fatigue. It means taking into account people working in noisy rooms and moving vehicles. All told, accessibility features accommodate the needs of up to 20% of your users, and perhaps even more.

4 responses
I like your angle on this, and I make the case wih my clients for accessibility. However, to answer the basic question as to why more people don't apply themselves to making content accessible, i would say that it's because it's not as cut and dried. Either a webpage renders properly in Safari or not. "Accessible" is not an absolute and subject to much interpretation.
Too hard is always a poor excuse. Not "cut and dried" is also a reaonable defense. Not enough time/resources is also frustrating, and professionalism cannot make up for it.

Alex has it right about a web page rendering properly in a browser or not. I had my "aha!" moment when I found a specific browser to test against. Accessibility "should" be the same way -- I open the browser intended for a blind person and test my sites with aplomb. It's enlightening and the *most* useful process.

Meanwhile, the curriculum you point to is exciting (to me, at least!) and I'd love to mandate it for all the site curators I work with. One who takes that class is both professional AND would an expert; unfortunately, we all can't be experts, at least at the level of daily updates.

So I continue to leverage tools/CMSes to help these curators (and me) to make accessibility more intuitive, and to help make the regular accessibility checks less time consuming.

The accessibility mandate at NASA this past year has become even more stringent! Great! That means: more people coming to me for work and questions; more focus on a more standardized tool set and methodology. And the ultimate threat: if the site is not passable, it gets removed in 90 days.

Yes, accessibility can seem more art than science at times, but - again! - so are other aspects of web design and development. Glad to hear that NASA is taking this work seriously. The more people that do, the easier it will be for all accessibility champions!
I seriously am amazed when I hear accessiblity being mentioned in the same breath as being too hard. It's no more harder than learning, lets say , learning CSS3.

It can be time consuming, especially if you have video's to make accessible. Personally I find it a joy to make the sites I work on accessible.

Just a note. When you think you've made your site accessible try to find users who actually are. People who use a keyboards to navigate a site or who use screen readers. Seeing them in action is rather interesting and having someone physically in front of you checking your site or just surfing. You have more of an incentive.