If you’re not considering content strategy, creation, and writing an essential part of web accessibility, you’re failing.

I just wrapped up a presentation: Make your content accessible (at Confab Central), and I had several energizing conversations after my talk. (Slides will be posted soon…) I shouldn’t have been surprised, really. This event packs the house with the best and brightest, and my room was full of people that were engaged, interested, and had lots of questions. That’s always a good sign.

In addition to some practical details, I had one overarching message for the participants in my session when it comes to accessibility and its importance for content creators: If you don’t consider the accessibility implications of your content, all your other accessibility efforts are for naught.

Content drives the web

Because content literally drives the web. Think about it like a car. Brilliant engineering behind that car. Masterful work, really. The engine is finely tuned, and ready. The interior is comfortable and well-designed. Everything is in exactly the place the driver expects it to be. You climb in, ready to go. And when you try to start the car to actually go anywhere, nothing happens.

Because you forgot the fuel. Because you forgot to plug the car in the night before. Because you were so focused on making the car look great and ensuring technical excellence, and everything else that makes a car what it is, you forgot the one thing that mattered most. The fuel.

That’s what happens when you don’t consider the accessibility implications of your content. You have a perfect, well-designed framework for delivery… of… nothing.

Accessibility = content + design + development

The designer creates the perfect visual style for the heading. It is readable, fits into the overall typography system, and fits with the brand style requirements. The developer makes sure that the site is using headings appropriately. But if the content creator doesn’t do their job, that heading is useless, empty and pointless.

Remember: perfect technical execution of a brilliant design that includes the wrong content at the wrong time and place is no more accessible or useful than the right content with the right design but incorrect technical execution.