Implement accessibility for all parts of your site or application

Published on May 9, 2023


I describe the importance of making admin dashboards accessible. It's critical that all parts of a web-based application is accessible because staff using it could also be disabled.

There’s going to be disabled users in all users groups

Who uses your web application? And is the application accessible to everyone? Too often we focus on the end user, and forget the administrators and other staff that use the application. Everyone needs access!

A group of 5 people, holding speech bubbles. Two white men. One white woman. Two black women.

User groups

There’s typically 3 primary groups using web applications: The administrators, the “staff” (for a lack of a better word), and the end users.

The administrators are going to manage the space. It could be making sure the application is up to date. Or managing staff and end user accounts. Or creating new sections of content.

By staff I mean anyone that works directly with the end user. If you’re providing an education app, that might be the teacher. If you’re providing a health application, it could be the medical professionals. If you’re providing a media platform, it could be your content creators.

End users first

The first group most accessibility efforts focus on is the end user. That makes sense in some way - they are the most numerous group! And arguably they are likely to be the group with the most individuals requiring accessibility.

Chances are you’ll find “more bang for the buck” by making the “front end” (the parts that your end users interact with) accessible if you weren’t thinking about accessibility when you created your first build.

Did you know there's more than 3,000 web accessibility lawsuits annually in the US?

Chances are that’s the part of your site or application that is most exposed to risk. By risk, I mean exposure to complaints and possibly lawsuits. As an aside, did you know there’s more than 3,000 web accessibility lawsuits annually in the US?

Therefore, working on your application’s front end first makes sense.

Don’t forget the rest!

Administrators and “staff” also need access.

1 in 4 adult in the US has a disability. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a quarter of your workforce has a disability. It does mean that there likely are more disabled folks working for you than you know.

Disabled folks do work in industries where it’s easier to assume only non-disabled folks work. It’s anecdotal but I can think of several teachers, doctors, lawyers, and writers with disabilities.

What happens when they can’t use your application? Or if it’s more difficult to use your application, therefore reduces productivity?

We all want to delight our users. We should aim to delight ALL our users.

I hate to bring this up, I really do. And yet, I must! There are legal requirements to make what we build accessible to staff, just as there are legal requirements to make sites and app accessible to end users. This is typically covered under non-discrimination in employment laws. For instance, in the US, Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires, among other things, that intranets and other digital platform required for work be accessible. Yes, I’m paraphrasing but you get the gist.

Make it all accessible

Ultimately, you want to make all aspects of your site or application accessible. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’ll delight all your users. And because it’s the law.