Amanda Rush

Link text which makes sense out of context is often cited as an accessibility concern. It’s not only an accessibility concern, it’s also beneficial for the people in your audience who do not have a disability of any kind. Like several of the other things which are primarily accessibility concerns but which also end up benefiting the rest of your audience, (captions for videos, transcription for audio, heading structure of your website as a whole and each piece of your content separately, just to name a few), it turns out that link text which can be made sense of out of context by assistive technology users are also a great way to increase clicks generally. Most people do not read an entire page on the web. They scan it instead, so links that make sense out of context, along with being distinguishable in othere ways from the rest of the text, (underlining links, anyone)? are more likely to capture the attention of your visitors than are links which have vague or repetative text as their label. I will note that you can’t take advantage of any of these benefits if your primary platform for content distribution is a social media presence as opposed to a website you own and control. (Indieweb for the win, again).

So, score one more for accessibility benefiting everyone. And, if you’re not doing so already, spend some time putting some thought into your link text. If you’re using social media as your personal or professional home on the web, here’s one more reason to consider either starting your own website, or hiring someone to build one for you.

Read Better Link Labels: 4Ss for Encouraging Clicks by Kate Moran (Nielsen Norman Group)
Specific link text sets sincere expectations and fulfills them, and is substantial enough to stand alone while remaining succinct.

For as long as anyone in the WordPress community can remember, the minimum allowed version of php on which WordPress will run has been well behind modern php versions, thanks to WordPress’s commitment to backwards compatibility. As of version 5.2, (due out in April) the minimum allowed version will be raised to php version 5.6, from it’s current allowed version of 5.2. Eight-five percent of all sites running WordPress 5.0 are running on php 5.6 or above, and high-profile plugins have been experimenting with user notifications encouraging an upgrade to a modern version of php, with quite a lot of success.

While php 5.6 reached end-of-life as of December 31, 2018, WordPress’s step to make it the minimum allowed version while continuing to encourage usage of php 7.2 and above is an important one. For one thing, it means that securing installations will be just a bit easier, and for another, the minimum allowed version change, coupled with encouragement to use a truly modern version, as well as allowing plugin authors to specify a supported php version, will make life a lot easier for those of us maintaining code.

Most hosts, especially the larger ones, have already either migrated to php 7.2 or above, or are strongly encouraging their users to do so. Note that if you’re running a virtual private server or similar, you will be required to manage the php upgrade yourself. If you happen to be a user or organization running on a virtual private server, and you are not technically proficient enough to manage the upgrade, you’ll want to make arrangements for someone to upgrade for you. I mention this last point because in the laast few weeks I’ve run into a lot of cases where users or organizations have been talked into hosting on a virtual private server or similar which they are unable to manage and which they have no one to manage for them. I’m not sure if this is an actual trend or whether or not I’m just personally/professionally encountering a lot of these. Anyway, think of the web, and upgrade your php installation if you haven’t already.

This piece by Joe Dolson (@Joedolson on Twitter) is a pretty good run-down of the disadvantages and general lack of helpfulness an accessibility toolbar provides to any website. Don’t Recreate Browser Features by Adrian Roselli is also another good resource on the topic. I have to concur with Joe’s post, specifically the commentary on how absolutely useless these kinds of toolbars are for people who actually need accessibility. I never use them when I encounter them in the wild, and I’ve never met a person with disabilities who clammors for them, either personally or professionally. I do recognize, however, that, most of the time, they’re installed as a result of the intention to make a site accessible, so I try to balance taking into consideration the good intentions of others with the fact that accessibility toolbars aren’t helpful when it comes to educating others.
Read Your Accessibility Toolbar Doesn't Help by Joe Dolson
The important thing about any accessibility plug-in is having a good understanding about what problems are being solved. When we’re talking about font size changes and narration, these are features that already exist in the browser or in assistive technology – adding this to your website does almost nothing. It may help a small number of people in specific situations, but that’s the limit.
This is worth a read by anyone who either wants social media to be classified somehow as a public utility, as well as by those who insist that their First Ammendment rights are being violated when social media platforms remove content they find objectionable. Worth reading also are the linked sources.
Read Rep. Devin Nunes's $250M Lawsuit Against Twitter Will Go Nowhere by Eugene Volokh (Reason.com)
The defamation (and negligence) claims against Twitter are blocked by 47 U.S.C. § 230.

After a user of the Storefront WordPress theme, (WooCommerce’s default theme), reported accessibility challenges with the theme’s focus outlines and text decoration with regard to links, the Storefront theme has been modified to address the issue with focus outlines by modifying the default outline so that it is darker than it was previously, as well as making the focus outlines solid. The theme will also underline links in the content, the footer, and breadcrumbs.

These changes are slated for the 2.5 release, which does not yet have a date set. However, you’ll want to keep an eye on your WordPress updates so that you can take advantage of these upcoming accessibility improvements. I’m looking at you, assistive technology sho[ps.

In yet another attempt to become the “One Browser to Rule Them All,” Google is adding the ability to Chrome for screen reader users to ask for automated alt text for images. “Oh hey, since we’re not allowed to explicitly track screen reader usage, let’s just set up a honeypot to get screen reader users to just hand the information over.” I can’t wait to have to once again make a choice between privacy and accessibility. My life-long dream has always been to live in a database controlled by Google simply because I’m a screen reader user. I can see it now. Some company like Aira would absolutely love to get their hands on that kind of advertising data, and Google will gleefully hand it to them for the right price. Dear fellow developers, screw you for abandoning alt text like yesterday’s leftover fast food.
I’m glad to see popular voices in the web space reflecting on how the web is seriously broken as a whole with regard to accessibility, but then there’s a part of me that’s screaming “Hey, accessibility advocates have been screaming at the top of our lungs about this for decades.” Not only have we rewarded the wrong things on the web, (aesthetics over everything else and at the expense of everything else, for example), but I think in a lot of ways we’ve rewarded the wrong voices. So many times it’s the not-so-popular voices who have been telling us what we really should be hearing, and because we think it’s too hard or not enough of a priority, (see internationalization and localization, or security, or accessibility, or translation), we put it off until we have something like the recent WebAIM survey of how abysmal the state of accessibility with regard to websites is to publicly shame us into doing the right thing. Maybe one day we’ll learn.
Dear fellow screen reader users. If you’re tempted to declare something accessible because you can use it, please keep this in mind before you make said declaration. “Works with my favorite screen reader” or “works with all screen readers” or “works with a particular screen reader as long as you use object navigation or route your Jaws cursor to your PC cursor” are not measurrable accessibility indicators. Accessibility is not just about screen reader users. Accessibility is about all people with disabilities. And the gold standard, inclusive design, is about everyone, including people with disabilities.
Happy thirtieth birthday World Wide Web. You may be held together by peanut butter and goblins, but you’ve provided so much joy and prosperity for all of us who have careers thanks to you. I promise to promote your health through the standards that make you great and enjoyable for everyone on this earth, and to encourage everyone who builds things on your foundation to do the same.
The trend under discussion in this long read is very real and results in all sorts of problems, including metric tons of technical debt and support costs. this is what happens when what I’ll call Shiny Object Syndrome takes the place of good decision-making.
Clickable email addresses which allow your site’s visitors to send you email, (otherwise known as mailto links), can be quite handy, and they’re easy to generate if you type HTML as if it’s your first spoken language. If you don’t do that, they can seem like the hardest thing to create, and you have a couple of options for creating them: Google what you need and then save that information in a place you’ll hopefully remember, or just use this mailto link generator. Simply fill out the form appropriately, generate the HTML you need, and copy and paste. Note that if you’re doing this using a WordPress installation, you’ll want to switch your editor to the code view if you’re using the Classic Editor, or use the custom HTML block if you’re using the editor as of WordPress 5.0. You can also insert your generated mailto links in the custom HTML widget for use in any widgetized area your theme provides. See this post for a complete guide to WordPress widgets, which includes a section on the custom HTML widget.
Bookmarked The Mailto Link Generator by Michael Mckeever (Mailto Link Generator)
Mailto link code and markup generator with subject, body, cc and bcc. Quickly and easily generate code for those annoying mailto links.
Read Grep for forensic log parsing and analysis on Windows Server IIS by JAN REILINK (Sysadmins of the North)
How to use GnuWin32 ported tools like grep.exe and find.exe for forensic log file analysis in Windows Server. In this article I’ll give some real live examples of using these ported GnuWin tools like grep.exe for logfile analysis on Windows servers. The article provides three example, as an alternative to LogParser, because finding spam scripts fast is often very important.
Read IIS Outbound Rules with gzip compression by JAN REILINK (Sysadmins of the North)
Saotn.org uses used URL Rewrite Outbound Rules in IIS, to offload content from a different server and/or host name. This should improve website performance. Just recently I noticed Outbound Rules conflicted with gzip compressed content. I started noticing HTTP 500 error messages: Outbound rewrite rules cannot be applied when the content of the HTTP response is encoded ("gzip").. Here is how to fix that error. …
Good morning, happy Monday, and happy semi-annual manual time offset setting change day to everyone in the WordPress community.
The American Foundation for the Blind is using the scenario of the lone, overworked, harried accessibility expert as a marketing prop for its own accessibility consulting service at this year’s AFB Leadership conference, and I have some thoughts. This is maybe a half a level above selling an overlay as a silver bullet for every accessibility problem on the planet, and unless you’ve been living under a rock or are an overlay vendor, you’re probably aware that overlays as a solution are at the absolute bottom of the totem pole. Any company which tasks a single individual with all of the responsibility for accessibility is guaranteed to fail at accessibility, and anyone who’s been in this field for any length of time knows this. To use someone who is guaranteed to constantly be fighting an uphill battle, only to not succede in the end, as a marketing prop for your own accessibility consulting, like you’re the white knight who will come in and save the day, is disgusting, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say you should stay as far away from accessibility consulting as possible. There’s not an accessibility firm worth its salt that would stoop to the level of using someone who is guaranteed to be unable to complete the task they have been given as a ploy to market their own services. Those accessibility teams of one are some of the hardest working, least appreciated people in this field, and when I’ve been in that situation, actual accessibility professionals have given me a hand up, not used me as a selling point in a marketing campaign. Using overworked accessibility teams of one as a sales pitch dehumanizes those accessibility teams and devalues all of their hard work, as well as the work of everyone else toiling in this field.
I’m in the process of giving the Customer Servant Consultancy website a fresh coat of paint. I’m planning to replace the current front page with a static front page and then link to the various content kinds in the navigation menu. I’ll also be rebuilding and updating the portfolio and testimonials and contact pages. I’m choosing a theme that still supports all the indieweb goodness while looking pretty different from my personal site. I’ll need to spend some time in the customizer making sure the color scheme has good color contrast, just in case it doesn’t currently.
Speaking from experience, I know exactly what Carrie is talking about when it comes to widgets being a poor choice, (although the only available one), for homepage layouts. I’ve done more than my fair share of theme customizations and often times those customizations meant hiring someone to redo the CSS. I, for one, will be over the moon when I can fully use Gutenberg and take advantage of block-based homepages.
Read An Introduction to Block-Based Homepages with the Genesis Framework by Carrie Dils (Carrie Dils)
StudioPress just released Revolution Pro, the first Genesis child theme to sport a block-based homepage. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create one.
Liked Simple Location 3.6.0 Released by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (David Shanske The Definitive Location)
There is a new update to Simple Locations which adds some new features. A query option for Micropub was added in a prior version and adjusted in this one. This is currently only supported in the Indigenous for Android app.  It allows the Android app to query the plugin for the name of the current location...

The 2nd Annual JavaScript for WordPress conference is scheduled for July 11 through 13 of 2019, and will include 3 FREE Days of workshops, talks and contribution all focused on JavaScript and WordPress. Workshops include learning how to use modern JavaScript development tools to write custom vanilla JavaScript in WordPress themes and plugins, as well as learning how to load and write React in WordPress plugins and themes. There’s a day of free talks separated into two tracks, and conference organizers have opened the speaker submissions. You can apply to speak and register for the conference on the conference page, as well as listen to past sessions. I was not able to attend this last year but will definitely catch up on past videos.
This is probably the most poetic take on link underlines I’ve ever read.
Liked Underlines Are Beautiful by Adrian Roselli (Adrian Roselli)
Underlines, the standard, built-in signifier of hyperlinks, the core feature of the web, are beautiful. This is objectively true. They are aesthetically one of the most delightful visual design elements ever created. They represent the ideal of a democratized information system. They are a frail monument to the worldwide reach…