A JSON standard to describe the accessibility of places, services, and products.

A drone photo of two wheelchair parking lots in front of a dropped curb. The parking spots are marked in blue.
Photo by Robert Ruggiero / Unsplash

Did you know that web accessibility is not only a UI developer issue? Checking your website for WCAG compliance isn’t enough. For your app, accessibility might start in the backend: An accessible website doesn’t help a disabled user if the accessibility of the offered products or services remains unclear. Accessibility information is still difficult to discover – and to describe physical accessibility of the real-world, we need a unified standard.

A11yJSON is such a standard. It’s a GeoJSON-compatible data format to specify real-world accessibility. With more than 200 details, it covers interactions with tangible products, physical places, elevators and escalators, services, events, and more.

Among the format’s users you find cities like Karlsruhe and Augsburg, Berlin-Brandenburg’s transit authority, and railway company DB Station & Service.

If your data covers real-world things, thinking about accessibility isn’t optional. Whenever lists of things are involved, their accessibility attributes need to be stored in data. If your app is a web-store, describe the accessibility of each offered product. If your app lists services, think about how you could make the accessibility of these services discoverable. Motivate service providers to provide full descriptions of their service. If you make a conference website, describe the accessibility of each lecture room, the talks, and the venue’s toilets. This doesn’t only help you to create a more inclusive product: accessibility is often an innovation accelerator. Good accessibility is good UX: it benefits everyone.

To include accessibility info in your data, simply mark it up with A11yJSON. As a bonus, you get a simple way to exchange it with other accessibility-related apps.

Here is an A11yJSON snippet:

Learn more about A11yJSON – get inspired for your own data formats, and don’t forget to give it a ⭐️ on GitHub to increase its visibility!

Together with Framefield, I co-created the open spec for Sozialhelden – it’s the data format behind accessibility.cloud and Wheelmap.org.