Lab: Developing for Accessibility with Semantic HTML

Handouts Media

Presented at 10:30am in Virtual B on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.



  • Emily Lewis, Accessibility Consultant, Knowbility

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 3-hr
  • Format: Bring-your-own Device Workshop: Laptops with a text or code editor and browser of choice
  • Expertise Level: Intermediate
  • Type of session: Pre-conference


Want to develop faster? Create code that’s accessible, efficient, and lean? Start with semantic HTML! Front-end developer Emily Lewis will show you how semantic HTML is the foundation for websites. Bring your own laptop to practice semantic HTML patterns yourself and test your code with common accessibility tools!


Build a strong foundation for accessibility, speed, and SEO by developing with semantic HTML! Learn how semantic HTML solves common accessibility problems — without any advanced coding knowledge or using bulky frameworks. Discover how semantic HTML makes it easier for people of all abilities to interact with your content, even when using keyboard-only interaction or screen readers.

Bring your own laptop to practice (and test!) semantic HTML patterns for common site content:

  • Headings
  • Lists
  • UI controls
  • Forms
  • Data tables
  • Images, video, and audio
  • Disclosures
  • Accordions
  • Tabs
  • Dialogs

You’ll also learn about the power of semantic HTML beyond accessibility:

  • Lean code for faster page performance
  • Standardized code for quicker development
  • Human-readable code for easier maintenance
  • Machine-readable code for better SEO


  1. Development without semantic HTML is inherently less accessible
  2. Semantic HTML is an integral part of accessibility for websites and web-based applications like SPAs
  3. Semantic HTML is not only accessible, it makes front-end development easier and more efficient

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Emily Lewis

Emily Lewis is a front-end developer with a passion for inclusive design, specializing in accessibility, semantics and user experience. Formerly the owner of a web services agency, she also is an expert in digital project management.

With more than 20 years working in the industry, Emily believes education and community are vital to making the web more diverse, inclusive and accessible. To that end, she co-hosted the renowned web podcast CTRL+CLICK CAST and served as Managing Editor for Web Standards Sherpa. She also wrote Microformats Made Simple and contributed to HTML5 Cookbook.

Currently, she advocates for digital accessibility through writing, public speaking and training.