Is innovation more important than accessibility?

Paul Boag

With more and more sites relying on technologies and techniques that hamper accessibility, there seems to be a move away from universal accessibility. But should we accept this as inevitable?

When Tim Berners-Lee appeared in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics his message to the world announced that the web was for everyone. However, I’m not convinced that this admirable sentiment is actually true.

Tim Berners-Lees message at the London Olympics
Tim Berners-Lee believes that the weather is that everyone, but is that actually the case?

Increasingly websites are becoming reliant on technologies and techniques that make access to some hard. Reliance on JavaScript, websites that do not use progressive enhancement and video or audio without a transcript, are just some examples of how the web is not accessible to all.

Many argue that this is an inevitable consequence of innovation, but do you agree? Should we accept that our websites will never be accessible by everybody, and that to try will hold back the web and be an overly expensive ambition?

As part of season seven of the Boagworld podcast we want to discuss this important issue. Therefore:

This house proposes that accessibility should not be allowed to hold back innovation.

Let’s use the comments to discuss what is a critical principle on which the web is built. I passionately believe that how we answer this question as a community will dictate the very nature of the web going forward.