Safe for eyes…maybe

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had pulled the colors for the Bb Gun from an old ad for Red Ryder BB guns. If you’ve watched the movie, “A Christmas Story”, you’ll recognize both the gun and the ad. I also originally had an image of the gun on the site. However, when I asked permission to use the image, the Daisy air gun company said they’d prefer that I remove it; as is their right, and I was happy to comply.

I kept the colors, though, as I thought a good strong dose of color was appropriate for the content. I had a chance yesterday, though, to check it out on a Mac where I hadn’t modified the gamma setting to be between that of a pure Mac, and that of a PC. My first reaction was, “Argggghhhh!”

Thinking that the site’s tagline starts with “Safe for eyes…”, it behooved me to make it safe for eyes. I’ve set the background color to white, for now.

Even if I hadn’t set it, I do provide full feeds at all the sites and a person could forgo the pleasure of directly reading the page at the site in favor of reading it in an aggregator. Yes, I’ve come fully around on feeds, and it was my recent book project that led to this change in attitude.

I don’t agree with the Ajax enthusiastas who say that one can blow off both valid markup and accessibility in the interests of creativity. When I was working on the Learning JavaScript book, what kept going through my mind in providing an accessible alternative to a site heavily JavaScripted and DHTMLized is to use a content management tool, like a weblog, to create multiple templates: one with ‘the goods’, one without.

(If the site was XHTML, one could also use XSLT to transform the page, but let’s face it, working with XSLT sucks.)

Still, even providing a ’site safe’ template, you can’t plan for all types of user agents. The best we can do, then, is provide a syndication feed. If we provide a properly formatted syndication feed, no matter the user agent, the site writing and the annotation that accompanies the writing is accessible. That’s the most important component of our pages, the contents of the individual posts. If all else is stripped away, this still comes through–if you use a properly formatted syndication feed, that is.

As such, I agree with DeWitt Clinton that providing type information for syndication feed consumers is imperative–especially if you have sites that provide a great deal of structured data. Where I don’t agree is that I don’t provide multiple feeds at my site. One feed is sufficient.

(And it irks me that I have to edit the default wp-atom.php that comes with WordPress in order to generate valid Atom.)

Using NOSCRIPT to add whatever is needed when JavaScript is not enabled, and making sure all content is accessible by keyboard, properly labeled, as well as logically layed out for speech-to-text browsers is the major first step in making a valid and accessible site. Providing a carefully formatted and precise syndication feed, with support for rich markup, is the second. Between the two, your word (and your metadata, and we all know how big I am on metadata) gets out.

Now, back to shopping for a new background color for Bb Gun. What think? A pale lime chiffon pie green, maybe?

PS: An good article, Reading and Subscribing to Blogs Through RSS: How Accessible is this world to people with vision loss, covers accessibility and RSS. The issue with being able to properly manage markup in addition to the recommendations outlined in this article means that if there is microformatted data associated with the post, such as calendar data, it also can be processed without undo intervention of the web page reader. An example can be to add an event to a reader’s calendar, or other such metadata related processes.

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