Read My thoughts on Gutenberg Accessibility by Marco Zehe @marcoinenglish (Marco’s Accessibility Blog)

WordPress and Gutenberg project leaders: You want WordPress to be a platform for everyone? Well, I’d say it is about time to put your money where your mouth is, and start getting serious about that commitment. It is never too late to change a public stance and get positive reactions for it. The doors aren’t closed, and I, for one, would whole-heartedly welcome that change of attitude from your end and not bitch about it when it happens. Your call!

Marco’s being pretty modest in his description of his abilities and what he does for a living, and I’ll save you the time of reading a multi-page biography which would probably border on hagiography (I have a ton of personal and professional respect for Marco) by saying he knows what he’s talking about and should be listened to.

And this is probably as positive as continued critiques are going to get.

There’s so much worth quoting from this post that I had difficulty picking the best excerpt, so I’ll add my thoughts on the other options below, in a slightly different order than they appear in the original post.

… what I see here is a repetitive pattern seen in many other projects, too. Treating accessibility as a bolt-on step at the end of any given cycle never works, will never pay off, and never lead to good inclusive results.

That statement holds true no matter how many slogans or how much positivity you pile on top of it. And I keep bringing up the positivity thing because it’s particularly galling when WordPress leadership preaches inclusion, everyone, and the like, only to have the bits that are inconvenient ignored or dismissed as mere negativity when it comes down to brass tacks.

The fact that a bunch of currently fully able-bodied people have actively decided to not be inclusive from the start means that a lot of decisions requiring a certain amount of both empathy and expertise need to be made at lower levels, and pushed into the product via grass root methods, which are often long and cumbersome and only lead to slow results. These can be very tiring.

This whole situation is crap. The fact that a bunch of us essentially have to stick around because if we don’t the accessibility won’t happen and we have to fight against the laziness of leadership, (and let me be clear here, by leadership I mean the decisionmakers, which doesn’t include most of the people working on Gutenberg, even the designers and developers who carry the title of lead), is demonstration all by itself that accessibility/inclusion isn’t a priority.

I don’t know why other accessibility advocates stick around despite this, I can only speak for myself.

I stick around although with more built-in intermittent breaks out of (1) pure stubbornness and (2) the desire to ensure that people with disabilities are just as able to have an open, independent home on the web just like everyone else and (3) the self-interest I started with.

People with disabilities shouldn’t have to be stuck with Facebook or Twitter, with all their problems, because the benevolent dictator of one of the largest free software projects makes promises, implied or otherwise, about inclusion and “everyone” which he then finds inconvenient to keep.

I once kept a job for two years after the software I needed to do that job became inaccessible because I refused to accept termination and a severence package in lieu of the accessibility issues being resolved. I used that time to hack on WordPress and learn my way around it, and I have benefited greatly from that initial learning and the assistance and friendship or even family of the WordPress community.

If I could manage to keep that job until I could leave on my terms, I will figure out how to stick with WordPress either until things get better or I leave on my terms.

I’m definitely not walking away while that piece paraphrasing my original HeroPress essay is still up on WordPress.org. I still stand by a lot of what’s there, especially the bits about the community, but if I go along to get along, or don’t speak up about this stuff when I think it’s warranted, then essentially I provide an easy way for that piece to be used as promotional material or evidence of a claim that is more like an ideal to be striven for as long as the circumstances are just right.

I don’t have any intention of serving as a token.

I realize all of the above probably sounds like I’m being an arrogant jerk, although I don’t intend arrogance at all, and I hope the people who know me and who have interacted with me also realize that.

I’m thankful for the rest of the accessibility advocates in this community especially, and the rest of the accessibility team who work so hard on a daily basis and never complain when surely they could be doing other things with their free time.

And I’m thankful to the accessibility advocates outside the WordPress community who have spoken up on these issues.

Finally, I’m thankful for Marco joining the discussion.

Yes, I’m tired. But if I can manage to keep a job for two years and leave on my own terms and only on my own terms, I can stick around and help everyone who has spoken up and sacrificed their free time win this. We’ll do it eventually.

Disadvantage to being away from the #GenesisWP framework for a while: You forget things like built-in CPT archive support.

Advantage to the #GenesisWP community: @cdils wrote a helpful post to remind you this exists.

Thanks Carrie, so greatful right now.

Read Attorney Charged With Filing Fraudulent Lawsuits Under The Americans With Disabilities Act by Department of Justice

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest today of STUART FINKELSTEIN on charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, false declarations to a court, and obstruction of justice.  Specifically, FINKELSTEIN has been charged with stealing the identities of two individuals in order to file hundreds of fraudulent lawsuits pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) that those individuals never authorized.  In addition, FINKELSTEIN has been charged with making false declarations and obstructing justice in proceedings in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

This adds an entirely new dimention to the whole ADA trolling thing, and for those in the blind community who advocated for HR 620 that bill would not have addressed this because there are already laws which do, as illustrated by this case.

And for the sake of all of us in the accessibility and disability rights spaces, if the evidence against Finkelstein supports a guilty verdict he definitely needs to be made an example of because attorneys like him are giving all of us a bad name.

Read WordPress should deprecate themes — a modest proposal by Mike Schinkel (MIKESCHINKEL.ME)

Personally, I have never found a theme that is 100% useable without some significant HTML+CSS customization and/or PHP/MySQL/Javascript customization. And even the best themes use approaches that result in sites that require a huge amount of time to maintain the content because the themer made easy coding choices rather than build functionality to allow managing content with less effort. Examples include using categories to group content where a custom taxonomy would be better, and a custom post would be best.

WordPress themes as they currently stand should absolutely be done away with, even though the concept of separating presentation from content is an excellent foundation.

Sepearating content from presentation might have been the original purpose of themes, but that definitely hasn’t proved to be the case in practice.

Put more succinctly, the law of unintended consequences strikes again.

As a general rule, I find that themes, (and I’m not including every theme developer or designer here, just lots of them), promise way more than they can ever deliver.

I can’t count the number of sites I’ve worked on over the years in which management of expectations with regard to what a client can do with a theme and what they can’t has played a significant role.

Add to this the complexities of customizing a theme so that it becomes accessible, (something required especially when there’s a lawsuit or demand letter or even just a desire to make the site accessible involved), and you have a recipe for more headache for the developer and the client than there should be.

There’s a reason I won’t touch anything from Theme Forest, which is admittedly the most extreme case but far from the only concentration of trashfire from a code standpoint that’s out there.

And I don’t see any of this changing until one of the least-modernized parts of WordPress, (the theme infrastructure) is gone.

If Gutenberg helps us get there, I’m all for it, even though I still think Matt should spend about three days without his mouse and monitor stuck with a screen reader and Gutenberg.

Assistive technology testing on any site is important. I know that.

But effectively being demoted from someone who contributes content to a site to someone who simply tests the final product with assistive tech because Gutenberg required when Gutenberg is part of the project I’ve invested years in and accessibility is an afterthought for the top dog of said project is a thing I am never going to get used to.

I’ll get over this particular instance and steal myself for the next one but if I ever get the opportunity it’s no-mouse plus no-monitor plus screen reader plus Gutenberg challenge for said top dog.

For the entire next possible WordCamp US.

This is crap and while yeah we should all be professional bla bla bla this is personal and I’m not apologizing for it or even here for putting a positive spin on this.

Read A note by John Carson on , , Gutenberg and the TwentyTwenty theme by John CarsonJohn Carson (Face-down in Mud)

Being a screen reader user, I find it very disturbing that more attention has not been given to accessibility . Just a thought; it would have been much easier and simpler to design and develop for accessibility before starting to code this project. It will be much more difficult to implement accessibility after the fact. Who made the decision to move forward with a project this large without accessibility from the ground up? In my opinion this is the most ridiculously moronic decision I’ve ever encountered!

I met John when I started working for Freedom Scientific.

He had already been with the company a long time, (ever since the days when it was Henter-Joyce and when Jaws 3.0 was new).

He taught me everything I know about screen reader internals, has likely forgotten more about screen readers and assistive technology in general than I’ve ever learned, and did a ton of the scripting work that still makes Jaws for Windows work with websites.

He retired in 2017, and started working with WordPress in 2019. So he can’t be targeted with the “just afraid of change” argument.

I’ve watched him test the TwentyTwenty theme with three different browser/screen reader combos, read through every line of the CSS, and I’ll watch him read through every line of the functions file and other associated templates.

And he was developing with Javascript before there were frameworks.

I’m not saying any of this because we’re friends or otherwise, I’m saying this because he’s earned the right to be listened to.

And yes, his post is pretty damning because this stuff should not still be happening on a project whose leardership continues to claim that WordPress is for everyone despite specifically refusing to put policies in place (accessibility) which are part and parcel of every successful accessibility effort.

Matt, I get it. Gutenberg has been a goal of yours since at least the final WordCamp San Francisco. I get that you and the rest of the Gutenberg team have worked very hard on it, and that you really are trying to move the web forward.

I also get that you’re probably tired of every accessibility advocate, in and outside this community, giving you crap about this stuff. Hearing that you’re not doing a good job, however politely, is not pleasant. It’s not even pleasant when it’s polite, especially in the Gutenberg case, because everybody’s essentially calling your baby ugly.

I can’t speak for anyone else who’s advocated for accessibility in this space, because I’m not them.

Speaking for myself though, I’d genuinely like to quit criticizing you over this, and I’m saying that as someone who has been and will continue to be one of your harshest critics for as long as it takes. No, I’m not forking WordPress and I’m not walking away.

Seriously, quit being so bullish about this. I have no idea why you are as opposed as you are to even the prospect of an enforcible, project-wide accessibility policy, and enforcing same, but setting policy goals regarding accessibility for a project this size, (or really any project), is required for any accessibility changes to be lasting and successful.

An accessibility policy is how you ensure that you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes.

Technical accessibility is the beginning, not the end of accessibility efforts. And if you really want to move the web forward while safeguarding its openness and independence, please do not carry on one of the worst aspects of the free software movement, the one that leaves whether or not people with disabilities are included as part of the “everyone” you champion up to developer and designer and founder choice.

We’re still fighting discrimination in the workplace, and we’re still fighting for equal access when it comes to the technology we use to do our jobs. But the beauty of WordPress and its community is that we can create opportunities for ourselves.“People of WordPress: Amanda Rush” published at WordPress.org

In order for everyone, including people with disabilities, to be able to create opportunities for ourselves, WordPress the project has to make accessibility a priority. The way that happens is through leadership making accessibility a project-wide goal instead of just something individuals work for and fight for.

Last time this became an issue, Web Accessibility Deathmatch happened. If we’re going to keep it positive, and prevent that from happening again, then things have to change and that change has to be led from the top down, since this is a project with a benevolent dictator.

Matt, please rethink your public stance regarding a project-wide accessibility policy.

Current status: Banging on the Twentytwenty theme with all the screen readers and helping @whiskeydragon1 set up his .org account because he’s also testing. #ScreenReaderTagTeam #AllTheProps #5FTF and we haz some patches coming.

It’s very nice to have someone in real time and not remote or chat-based to bounce ideas off of.

Liked This Feature Should Be Easy by Brent Simmons

A feature is pretty much never as easy as it seems. The main function of a feature — whether that’s making a https call to a read-it-later service or adding some fairly simple new view — is often the easiest part.

Co-signed: Every single developer on the planet.