Optimizing a Blog for the Blind
Accessibility is a real problem in the modern web

I’ve just spent the last five days coaxing ikiwiki to work well as a blogging tool. There were two things I noticed about it that bugged me (I’ll get into the benefits later) that are actually pretty common across all blogs and most web pages. I just spent two days fixing that with the most modern tools at my disposal. 1) The default div tag layout sucks for text based web readers like elinks, and is terrible to use with a screenreader.

By the time a speech synthesizer gets past all the preliminary junk, you’ve lost your audience.

Every piece of blogging software I’ve tried violates two rules of rendering nicely to plain text.

  • Put the important content (e.g. YOUR content) as close to FIRST in the actual text of the web page as possible.

  • Use stylesheets and javascript where appropriate

2) The display of web pages just sucks on handhelds.

I worked on WAP. I worked on various early versions of minimo. I worked on making the web work on REALLY small displays (tv, handhelds) from 2001 to 2002. I failed. The so-called “display independence” of the web is a joke. Nobody even tries.

The pinch to compress guesture is a nice innovation but what I think most users would want is the ability to READ the darn page on the first try.

I had hoped - 8 years after I stopped working on the problem - that it would have been solved. Hah. Not even close. Every single damn website that doesn’t explicitly have android support has to be zoomed and scrolled around. Navigation is a hit or (more often) miss concept with the navigation usually in tiny fonts with weird javascript that just doesn’t work on a handheld.

Find me elsewhere.

Best of the blog Uncle Bill's Helicopter - A speech I gave to ITT Tech - Chicken soup for engineers
Beating the Brand - A pathological exploration of how branding makes it hard to think straight
Inside the Internet Mind - trying to map the weather within the global supercomputer that consists of humans and google
Sex In Politics - If politicians spent more time pounding the flesh rather than pressing it, it would be a better world
Getting resources from space - An alternative to blowing money on mars using NEAs.
On the Columbia - Why I care about space
Authors I like:
Doc Searls
Jerry Pournelle
The Cubic Dog
David Brin
Charlie Stross
Eric Raymond
The Intercept
Chunky Mark
Dan Luu's rants about hardware design
Selenian Boondocks
Transterrestial Musings

February 10, 2011
291 words

ikiwiki latency usability