The Importance of Semantics (For designers and developers)

Presented at 9:15am in Windsor on Thursday, November 15, 2018.



  • Gerard Cohen, Lead Accessibility Strategist, Wells Fargo

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


Semantics on the web have to do with the implied meaning and interaction, and they are the backbone of web accessibility. It's important that both designers and developers are familiar with the semantic meaning of elements. Choosing the right element, and using in the correct way, is just as important to designers as it is developers.


For designers, this session will help introduce the importance of knowing the proper semantics of the elements they use to design with, hopefully being careful to start designing with the right ones.

For developers new to accessibility, this will reinforce the importance of using the proper elements and not being tempted to create their own implementations.

For both audiences I hope I can expose attendees to the benefits of starting with semantic elements; saving time by not having to reinvent/ reengineer the wheel, reducing surface area for defects, and being accessible from the start.


  1. Semantics are just as important for designers as they are for developers
  2. Semantics are more than just using proper elements
  3. Using proper semantics help improve user experience

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Uncategorized, Web/Media Access

Speaker Bio(s)

Gerard Cohen

"Do you ask a dolphin how it swims, or an eagle how it flies? No, because that's what they were made to do!"

Gerard K. Cohen loves front end engineering so much that he is on a mission to make sure that the web is inclusive to all users, making rich internet experiences available for all. He believes a great user experience includes performance and accessibility.

Gerard lives in Oakland with his wife and Betta fish, Squiggles, and when he is not sleeping or drinking Zombies at tiki bars, he helps raise awareness by speaking at Front End and Accessibility conferences around the country

Slides for The Importance of Semantics (For designers and developers)