Photo of a MacBook on a table facing a window, there are AirPods and a faux plant in view, code is on the screen.

Private companies will often cut corners. This can include deprioritising accessibility and discriminating against disabled people. As a product owner once said to me “business doesn’t do work it doesn’t have to.”

I started to wonder, just how bad is it in the UK? More specifically how bad is it within Frontend Development? I wanted to get some numbers so I analysed 100 Frontend Developer jobs with various variations of this title in July 2023.


Using Linkedin Jobs, I searched the whole of the UK. I made a copy of the job details as well as various other pieces of data. This data can be viewed at the bottom of this post in various formats. There were two elements I was looking at:

  • Does the job description mention WCAG?
  • Does the job mention Accessibility?

Findings - only 5% of jobs mentioned WCAG and Accessibility

This was pretty grim, but inline with what I was noticing. Only 5% of Frontend Developer jobs mention both keywords.

19% made reference to Accessibility

This was slightly better, more listings made a reference to either Accessibility or Web Accessibility as a word but did not mention WCAG. A higher number, however I wondered if the actual role would take accessibility seriously in a meaningful way.

Other interesting notes

Only one company mentioned WCAG, Accessibility and aria this was a company called TorchBox, shout out to them.

I noticed even a Principal Front End Developer role at Sky, neither Accessibility or WCAG was mentioned. No points. Minus points. What is happening over there at Sky?

“Business doesn’t do work they don’t have to”

This ableist statement has been said to me as a justification for ignoring accessibility. As the law is not explicit towards private UK companies yet. Also, as direct financial consequence is not always clear, why should they bother to do this work? Why should they care about disabled people?

While there is a strong business case for digital accessibility but as we’ve seen with the launch of Threads, often the deprioritisation lies with people at the top. If Meta, a billion pound company is setting this type of tone across the tech industry it’s not surprising other companies are not bothering.

To hell with the business case

Matt May writes ”to hell with the business case”, you do not sell product inclusion and equity, including accessibility, on business cases.

The moment you frame the case for any kind of inclusion or equity around the money an organisation stands to gain (or save), you have already lost. What you have done is turn a moral case, one where you have the high ground, into an economic one.

There is a reason one of the most beloved quotes in all of accessibility was Tim Cook’s angry response to an activist shareholder. “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind (sic),” he seethed, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI (return on investment).

WCAG is not taken seriously as a technical specialisation

I often think; would apply to other industries? Would there be recruitment for an electrician where their work doesn’t need to meet any safety standards? A lawyer where they don’t have to comply with a set of regulations? I suppose my answer to this lies with the same structure, if businesses could, they properly would.

How has Frontend as a discipline got to this stage where only 5% of jobs even mention WCAG and Accessibility? This is also in the UK, the birthplace of the world wide web and web standards. Legally the UK even has the Equality Act that aims to protect against disability discrimination.

Also, accessibility is not just the responsibility of Frontend, every discipline has a part to play. Other roles like Product Owners, Designers, Business Analysts even Chief Technology Officers need to have understanding.

There are very few technical standards and regulations in tech, in an ideal world meeting WCAG 2.1 AA should be a basic requirement. WCAG was first published in 1995, unfortunately fast forward 28 years and we now have an entire generation of digital products, services and “best practice” in the private sector that are exclusionary.

The The European Accessibility Act (EAA) will hopefully alter this mindset as financial consequence becomes possible.

Why else is this happening?

Mike Taylor wrote a great article called The “Backendification” of Frontend Development.

When every developer on your team is a “JavaScript Ninja”, you’re actually leaving yourself exposed to [gaps in knowledge]. “No doubt applications everywhere are littered with tragic instances of <div className="btn" onClick={this.handleClick}>

“Who care’s, it works fine” you say? While it may work for an able-bodied person, those reliant on assistive-technologies will be completely unable to access parts of your application.” He goes on to say:

“I believe the major shift from server-side to client-side applications pulled a large number of talented developers from the backend towards the front. With a much different set of strengths and weaknesses, these programmers started to shift the way frontend development is conducted to accommodate their own needs and preferences.”

I agree with all of his article, I feel like this goes a long way to tell the story of what is happening. As backend developers migrate to the front, the values of Frontend - accessibility, performance, progressive enhancement are diminished, creating a circular problem. People now higher up in the organisation hold the power to allocate hiring, resources, choose technical stack and the cycle continues. If Developers cannot capture these bugs as they don’t know what they’re looking for that’s an issue. If technical interviews don’t ask a single HTML question that’s an issue.

Frontend code that isn’t accessible isn’t production ready. It has defeats, technical debt.

He also references the CSS article by Chris Coyier named “The Great Divide” which talks about how Frontend has fragmented and we need different titles and ways to describe the skillsets needed for these roles. Brad Frost furthers this with an article called front-of-the-front-end and back-of-the-front-end web development. Another article about the title of UX Engineer by Donnie D’Amato talks about this a little more.

Did you know, React does not handle page titles in an accessible way without additional work?

What are the solutions?

I’m really not sure, but the problem seems to be so widespread. Building accessible websites and apps is a moral obligation. As the European Accessibility Act comes into force in 2025 we might start to see a culture shift. Frontend roles that mention WCAG and more accessibility teams.