I’ve spent some time over the past few months thinking about how I craft the content I publish for the web. Specifically regarding my use of language when writing. In one certain context — not to suggest my writing is free from more problems in others — it’s not as inclusive as it should be.
I’m referring to how a screen reader user experiences the words I write. And with my limited use of the technology, I’ve taken note of something quite specific. If you use a screen reader to speak my words, I’m not sure you, as a listener, will get all of the “subtleties” (case in point) of my intent.
Using the example I cited immediately above, precisely how is a screen reader user supposed to know I’ve put the word “subtleties” in quotation marks? Just typing quotation marks before and after the word isn’t enough to make a screen reader speak them. Read “Language is a curious beast, ain’t it?” in its entirety
I started my initial “webucation” simply by learning virtually the only consistent (meaning “sure-footed”) language on the web, at the time. Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML). As I wrote here previously, just over a month ago in fact (where is the time going?), CSS resets and the manner for which I have and do rely on them have undergone quite the shake up. And as sort of an addendum to said post, not for any other reason than consistency, I’ve reinstated the FSS reset, well half of it anyway, back into FSSFive. But another approach of mine that has experienced quite a realignment is what had to be my very first lesson on HTML. Links. But more specifically how links look in a webpage.
It was 1997. Arguably during the early days of the web. At least with respect nearly everything web related was in flux. Everything still needed to be figured out and settled upon (well as much as anything on the web can be or actually is “settled”). And when I started to learn HTML it was in the dying days of version 3, just prior to the “ratification” of the new specification — version 4 — that saw use for a good 12 years. Version 4 came out in very early ’98, if I remember correctly, and 5 still hasn’t, and won’t for years, reached final draft status. But portions of the web are currently, and have been for a bit, moving to the next “iteration” of HTML, version 5.
As an aside, there is plenty of “in between” stuff I’m failing to mention in the years from 1998 to 2010, XHTML 1 & 2 being the most significant occurrences. That is on purpose. Honestly by the time I graduated College, in the winter of 2001, I had Photoshop on the brain. Bad. It wasn’t until 2005 when I got back onto web design. Previous too ’05 I was “listening” to what was happening but not with enough interest to accurately recall most of it. And not too much before ’08 I was entirely consumed with re-learning how to do develop on the web, again. Read “Links: fixing what ain’t broken” in its entirety