Tying up loose ends in a blog launch part 2: Accessibility

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This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Blog Development Series #4: Creating Content & Evaluation
Man receiving "Access Denied" error on all his computer screens

Image Credit: Jon Read @ Flickr

The final post in this series on Content Creation and Evaluation is the concept of web accessibility. Those in the Web 2.0 movement encourage bloggers and web developers to make their sites more accessible to those with disabilities, in order to  create a web that all people can use. Among those who are giving training and developing standards are WebAim.org, Google, and the Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C).

WebAIM recognizes both the web’s potential and the lost opportunities for people living with a disability (WebAIM.org). The fact that over 285 million people in the world have visual impairments and must rely upon screen reading technology makes it imperative that bloggers and website owners do their best to make their sites accessible to these devices (Google). The major categories of disabilities on the web are visual, hearing, motor and cognitive. WebAIM encourages commitment and accountability of bloggers through awareness, leadership, and setting policies and procedures.  Although this may take time and effort, WebAIM (n.d.) says:

“The benefits of providing access to a larger population almost always outweigh the time required by a knowledgeable developer to implement that accessibility.”

Some principles that WebAIM offers are to provide alternative text and captions for media, headers for tables, ensure that forms work, do not rely on color for meaning, ensure accessibility of non-HTML content (such as PDFs, DOCs and Flash), and design to standards (such as HTML or CS3).

For newbies at web accessibility (and that includes myself), Google has created a free online course on web accessibility (Google Inc., n.d.). The online course introduces tolls and techniques for bloggers and developers to make their sites more accessible to blind or low vision users.

To familiarize yourself with web accessibility standards, the Web Accessibility Initiative, or W3C, develops up-to-the-date guidelines, support materials, presentations and tutorials. They even have Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to attend! (W3C, n.d.). The browser plugin that I will be using to validate Library Currents is “Web Developer” by Chris Pederick. This plugin installs in Firefox or Chrome and creates a toolbar which can validate HTML, CSS and more. The plugin uses W3C standards to validate your site pages, and tells you what errors you have in your code that could be breaking your site for some users (Pederick, n.d.).

Above all, accessibility is universal dilemma, one that can only be solved with standards. Standards are essential because errors may crash a site in one browser but not crash in another one. Even the simple things are important, such as updating to the latest version of your content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) … and this includes themes and plugins! One thing I will have to say is troublesome is that many of the themes I have reviewed contained dozens of validation errors, including the one that I chose for Library Currents. It will take a combination of personal time and effort, and hiring a coder to fix the bugs that are above my pay grade! But they must eventually be corrected, as they fall in the “what you don’t know will hurt you” category: just fixing these errors (many of which I don’t see in my own browser) will provide accessibility to more users and create return visits as well.

Next up: A Summation of the Launch of Library Currents … a Blog Project Ends, but a New Blog Era Begins!


Google Inc. (n.d.). Introduction to web accessibility [Course]. Retrieved from https://webaccessibility.withgoogle.com/course

Pederick, C. (n.d.). Web developer [App page]. Retrieved from http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer/

W3C. (n.d.). Web accessibility inititaive (WAI) [Home page]. Retrived from http://www.w3.org/WAI/

WebAIM (n.d.). Introduction to web accessibility [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://webaim.org/intro/


Series Navigation<< Tying up loose ends in a blog launch part 1: AssessmentLibrary Currents is featured on Tame the Web – see the guest post! >>

Mickel is an MLIS and the creator of Library Currents. His inspiration for the blog was the SJSU course "The Hyperlinked Library" taught by Dr. Michael Stephens, a course that is also a worldwide MOOC. If you wish to contact him, feel free to write to Mickel Paris at librarycurrents1@aol.com.

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