Maybe a better title for this post would be “Why Accessibility in Rails is Currently a Non-issue”. Last night was the core team panel discussion at RailsConf and there was a question about what the core team was doing to increase accessibility in Rails.
Someone in the core team answered rather vaguely (or maybe I misunderstood the answer) how they had used Rails in a project that required high accessibility. My view is that for the Rails framework accessibility is currently a non-issue. Here is why:
As long as the developer has control over the view code (HTML and CSS) it will always be possible to create an application that is accessible. What happens if you remove that control? Microsoft tried to remove that control in the first incarnations of ASP.NET with the result that some really crappy (and inaccessible) HTML was genereated on the server.
DHH presented an upcoming plugin: simply_helpful. This plugin will provide convenience methods to create markup in your views. Currently it provides an excellent support to do standard stuff. As long as this plugin doesn’t go haywire with regards to semantics Rails will continue to be an excellent framework for accessible applications.
Could something be made better in the current version of Rails? If scaffolding should be a way to show best practices in accessibility there is a small detail that could be changed right now. Add a lang attribute to the html element (lang=”en”) to indicate the natural language. But, I guess it is up to me and other accessibility advocates to submit as a patch.
Maybe it could be the smallest patch (9 bytes) ever submitted?