The W3C article Involving Users in Web Projects for Better, Easier Accessibility gives excellent guidelines for developing accessibility in a web project. The article states:
Involving people with disabilities from the beginning of a project helps you better understand accessibility issues and implement more effective accessibility solutions.
In my experience, this couldn’t be more true. Nothing is much worse than having to retro-fit an existing web site or web application for web accessibility, or having to explain what assistive technology is to the author of the specifications document. You must plan from the start, and implement at the end (an old Hijax saying). When the different teams on a project understand accessibility, including the developers, it certainly makes the project run much more smoothly and efficiently.
The article discusses the following items in detail:
- How Involving Users Early Helps
- How to Involve Users throughout Your Project
- Getting a Range of Users
- Working with Users
- Combine User Involvement with Standards
These techniques can be applied to more than web sites; also assistive technologies, media players, authoring tools, policies, and technical specifications.
For more, here’s the W3C blog discussing this article: Discover new ways of thinking about accessibility.