It’s easy to get cranky when semantic HTML is ignored by developers, and that’s usually my cue to quit for the day if possible. This is probably the funniest take I’ve read on the subject of HTML, and I kind of want to steal and modify slightly that footer text and use it on my personal site. This post is also written in a way that allows you to steal the points and add them to your notebook if you’re into that sort of thing.
I would encourage every blind person in the strongest possible terms to read the most recent article by Chris Hofstader and download the data. I would especially encourage the blind people who has been contracted by any of these organizations to do things like build websites or write software to read through this data and then make decisions with regard to whether or not you’re going to work with these organizations and how you are going to price your services based on this data and not the sob stories or excuses provided by these organizations when they plead lack of budget coupled with great need for your services. It’s one thing to suspect they’re screwing you over with no proof. It’s a very different, and bigger, ball of wax to know that they are screwing you over, have proof of it, and then contrast that with the “have a large impact”, “make a difference”, “help the cause”, “we’ll send you referals” kind of language that is so often used when they pitch for things like websites or apps. I will not only be reading through this data myself, but also passing this on to any blind person who has been my student, formally or otherwise, when it comes to WordPress.
Matt Mullenweg has taken the time to introspect and revisit his working definition of democratizing publishing to specifically include people of all backgrounds, interests, and abilities, and I think this is worthy of note. Not only that, I think it’s a significant step that earns him a not insignificant amount of credit. It’s a necessary step that helps lay the foundation for a more accessible WordPress, a more accessible editor for WordPress, and a more accessible web going forward. Granted, words are not action. But this, coupled with Matt’s pledge to fund the remainder of the WPCampus crowdfunding effort for a full accessibility audit of Gutenberg, by way of Automattic, (provided that pledge is fulfilled), gives me reason to be cautiously optimistic regarding Matt’s participation in the effort to make WordPress and its new editor accessible to everyone. So, thank you Matt for your demonstrated willingness to revisit the core idea behind WordPress and as a result of that thought process to make a necessary course correction. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.
I couldn’t agree more that Bridgy is an awesome service, and I like watching the stats climb. I’m about to add two more unique domains to start sending webmentions and collecting responses. I also need to start backing Indieweb every month, or at least one-time donations when I can afford to, since I get so much value out of it personally and professionally. I would love to see native webmention support and native collection of responses and reactions in WordPress core, instead of as plugins. It needs to be as easy as possible for anyone to adopt and become part of the indieweb so that people have a real choice when it comes to freeing themselves from platforms like Facebook and Twitter and the like.
I think this is over all a good thing, although I’m hesitant to take this as some sort of goodwill sign from Microsoft. I find that it’s easier to deal with the disappointment that inevitably arises when platforms remove or limit features if one keeps in mind that these are business decisions and nothing more. Plus, honestly, I still don’t trust Microsoft when it comes to free/open source software. Their newfound love for open source hasn’t been around long enough to erase their very long history of having an anti-open-source stance. This article opines that most developers have come to terms with Microsoft’s Github acquisition. Well of course we have. Most of us use Github either for our own projects or for projects we contribute to, and it’s easier to just come to terms than it is to spin up decentralized operations and move everything over to those. Decentralized is the better approach, although I think managing the social aspects of software contribution is still a hurtle. I need to look into this more.
In the web accessibility space, we talk a lot about how everyone has a role to play when it comes to accessibility. We’ve been talking about this for a very long time, and I’m glad to see the idea that when it comes to cross-disciplinary things like ethics, it’s not just one person’s responsibility. Accessibility, at its core, is an ethics issue, and I think that, just as accessibility as a part needs a good business case to support it, tech ethics as a whole will need that too. Right now we’re still in the beginning stages of considering tech ethics as a whole, so we’re not to the part yet where the business case for it, or even the general idea of a business case, is being considered. But I suspect we’ll get there soon enough.
For those of you who are reading this in your inbox, the context for this post is the recently-published, (as in yesterday), target release date for WordPress 5.0, which rolls out the new Gutenberg editor. I’d like to say I’m surprised by this, but I’m just not. I find myself asking a few questions: First, I find it very difficult to believe that a piece of software that is being released with known, significant issues, (up to and including significant accessibility issues, and no, that doesn’t just apply to assistive technology users), can be declared stable enough for release. Accessibility problems, just by themselves, are bugs. Well, they are if you claim to consider accessibility a priority. Next, if the plan was to release the Thursday before WordCamp US, (and I have to concur with those who believe it has been), what was the point of all those one-on-one office hours? How is anyone in the WordPress community supposed to believe that Matt is dealing in good faith when he has apparently convinced himself of the superiority of his own definition of quality and stability, and that his cause is so right and so perfect that it’s worth literally sneaking a major release out the door while everyone is traveling to WordCamp US? I am not opposed to the concept of Gutenberg, and I never have been. I know the current editor is not perfect, and that it can be improved. But this whole thing wreaks of fanaticism, arrogance, dishonesty, a complete disregard for any standard definitions of quality control, (there’s no way, absolutely none, that enough time for actual testing, complete with stress cases, could have been performed between RC 2 and RC 3, and that’s not even counting RC 1), a complete disregard for those of us who work with WordPress users outside of what is apparently a hermetically sealed bubble of perfection in which Matt lives, and the day-to-day experience that has informed our comments since day one, along with a healthy dose of hope as a strategy when it comes to Gutenberg. The question and answer session at this weekend’s State of the Word address is going to get interesting, as is the dev chat this Wednesday.
I can absolutely see a case where users would interact, and and therefore become vulnerable to this exploit: Keyboard-only users, screen reader users, and speech recognition users. So this might be worth looking into, especially if you’re adding a ton of keyboard shortcuts to your app and calling it an accessibility improvement.
This is a good read regarding the event-stream ongoing saga, and I agree with it, but I also have some things to add to it. For those of you who may not be familiar, (non-developers), event-stream was pulled from Node Package Manager, (something that gets used pretty frequently when building software in order to manage dependencies, otherwise known as other code bits you need in order to run/build your code bit), because it relied on another package which was found to have vulnerabilities. It was then handed over to someone else, who promptly added a cryptocurrency iner to it, at which point the internets freaked out. Frankly I don’t completely blame the new maintainer for adding the cryptocurrency miner. There are very large corporations who have no problem using open source software for their benefit, all while not supporting the maintainers. See for example: Apple and Microsoft. And if you can’t be relied on to hit that donate button, well then we’ll just use your processing power because eating habbits need to be supported. I’d like to add to the post I’m linking to though that, while I think code does need to be simpler and thus easier to understand, I also think maybe we need to simplify our build processes. But back to the “understanding” point, reading code is a learned skill, and I think to a certain extent it’s on the users, (and in this case the users are developers), to learn how to read code. As much as I’d like code to be simpler, outside of everyone who writes code taking courses/reading books on best practice and then applying all that, I don’t see this happening.
I’m trying to decide if TMZ counts as accessibility hitting the mainstream or not. Also, someone should let them know that, (while Playboy Magazine has been available as part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Visually Handicapped for decades), in both braille and audio formats, blind people do not read Playboy for the articles. Some blind people are avid consumers of adult entertainment just as some sighted people are. Also, dear Playboy, if Pornhub can figure out how to make their entire site accessible while preserving its nature and content, you can too.
I’m glad to see that WCAG 2.1 is being adopted so quickly. It was released on June 5, 2018, WCAG 2.0 took a while to be adopted as the standard. 2.1 does a lot to address the needs of not only people with disabilities, but also people who are older, (sorry screen reader users, it’s not just about us and it never has been), and I’m pleased to see that we didn’t have to wait two years to see it adopted. I’m also glad the National Federation of the Blind resorted to structured negotiation and not a lawsuit, and would like to see more campaigning in the organization’s ranks for this approach.
Read First Accessibility Agreement in U.S. to Use WCAG 2.1: Reached With Structured Negotiation by an author (Law Office of Lainey Feingold)
On November 2, 2018 Alameda County California, three blind residents, and the National Federation of the Blind announced a settlement designed to protect the rights of blind voters to participate fully in the county's voting program. It is the first agreement in the United States to include WCAG