Links

The Ethics of Web Performance: a compelling discussion about the modern web’s impact on accessibility and the environment.

Nefarious LinkedIn: It turns out that LinkedIn scans’ users browsers for extension usage. Why is that? Why encrypt and bury the information it finds? I don’t know the answers, but this plugin will help you detect what LinkedIn is looking for.

The Norwegian Art of the Packed Lunch: while a traditional Norwegian lunch of bread with cheese or meat is completely off limits for me as someone with celiac disease and food allergies, the concept of eating the same simple lunch every day on a set schedule as a means of alleviating decision fatigue is very appealing.

Tennessee doctors are paid to review applications to the federal disability program. How much they earn depends on how fast they work. Some doctors work very fast. Highlighting the corruption and flaws with the disability system… Tennessee is not unique, but The Tennessean did a hell of a job investigating that state and the harm it’s caused to disabled people who need benefits.

Stop The Rock Stacking: There’s a recent trend for tourists to stack rocks randomly in nature, which is disrespectful and can be downright harmful to nature. Stop it. Visit Aruba also explains why rock stacking is harmful.

I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman: “What I remember most about the whole ordeal, groggy from trauma and pain and narcotics, is how nothing about who I was in any other context mattered to the assumptions of my incompetence. I spoke in the way one might expect of someone with a lot of formal education. I had health insurance. I was married. All of my status characteristics screamed ‘competent,’ but nothing could shut down what my blackness screams when I walk into the room.”

Lollipops and Hugo

I appreciated this more formal recognition of my Lollipop contributions to date. Working with Kemonine has been a real “treat” (sorry not sorry), and we are making so much progress! I’ve got myself a little Orange Pi running as a router and data-cap-saver thanks to Pi-Hole.

Note (and an opinion) about data caps and advertisements: unlimited data plans are great, but they’re not quite as unlimited as they appear on the surface: see this post about unlimited data from the experts at the Mobile Internet Resource Center. Many sites and individuals rely on ads for revenue, but ads can be hogs, and are exceptionally annoying if not downright harmful: such as when they trigger migraines, trauma flashbacks, or other health problems. It might seem extreme to sent up an entire device specifically to avoid ads, but for today’s internet, I think of it as an accessibility tool. And I hope that someday we won’t need it, because advertisers will shift towards more ethical practices.

In other interesting news, I learned how to deploy a Hugo site: Gluten-Free RV. Hugo’s really nice. (jmf.codes may be switching over someday in the near future…)

#100DaysofCode Day 11

I took the previous day‘s code for the Morse Translator and changed it to include list comprehension.

Through a series of unfortunate events, I had an unexpected allergic reaction two days in a row. One reaction often throws me for a loop for a day or two, requiring extra rest, but two in a row have left me feeling pretty wiped. It can take a short minute to get back in the swing of things when something like this happens (I partly blame the Benadryl hangover). This is one of life’s minor annoyances when living with chronic illness or disability. Some annoyances are bigger than others, of course. This could’ve been much worse, all things considered.

#100DaysofCode Day 1

Happy new year, friends. I spent most of the holiday season working on the wd4e specialization, and finished intro to CSS3, interactivity with JavaScript, and advanced styling with responsive design. My capstone begins in March.

When I first read about 100 Days of Code, I realized I needed this kind of motivation, and I’ve been focusing on developing a code-something-everyday habit… and opted not to blog about it. I want to track my progress more linearly, so I’m going to change that today, and restart the clock to Day 1.

Day 1: Finished drafting contributing.md and editing code of conduct for the Aardwolf project (PR link). I’ve been tracking my job search in using mySQL and a CRUD UI I designed myself, and I spent some time tweaking the UI for that. For privacy reasons, I’ll just share my CSS using a representative table of cats.

This exercise is a reminder that I prefer back-end to front-end work. I am colorblind and the things I find attractive, you might find hideous. My personal style leans in a simpler direction: black, white, shades of gray, which also tend to be much more accessible to a broader audience. But there’s something relaxing about playing with color pallets– kind of like coloring with a fresh box of crayons! So for this exercise, don’t judge– I don’t feel bad about it. 🙂

winding down and ramping up

I’ve finished the Web Applications for Everyone Coursera specialization! (proof!) I have really come to like Coursera’s format for learning, but I think what really made me love it (first with Python for Everybody, and now with WA4E) was Dr. Chuck’s teaching style and course materials. It was nice to feel like I was “back in school” again, but it was even better to be able to work at my own pace. I’ve surprised myself by how quickly I went through most of the material, and really grateful to have been able to spend extra time on parts I found complex or parts I really wanted to take the time to explore and enjoy. Coursera is a pass/fail program, but you do get a numerical grade for your own records: I finished WA4E with a score of 99.7 percent.

WA4E and Py4E are all open education resources and can be used and reproduced without permission. I highly recommend them. (Start with Python if you’re new, like me! Python was a great first language.)

I have been thinking about where I’d like to go next. The web applications courses were about back-end app development, and there’s a complementary specialization for web design, which is more front-end and making things pretty– and accessible. Accessibility is near and dear to me, and will forever influence my development and engineering. That may be my next step.

I think I’ll be taking a little more time to wind down and polish up some more projects to show you here (or github), and gearing up to really ramp up my involvement in some interesting open source projects… with some serious job hunting, too. But in the meantime, I think I’ll be checking out Advent of Code.

Cheers!

prioritizing accessibility

I’m going to be attending a teach-out about the internet and society. The instructors requested questions and comments before the teach-out begins at the end of the month, but the phone number is a google voice number with a limited voicemail length and I didn’t realize they didn’t want a WHOLE me-length comment. 🙂 So I’ll just post it all here:

I’d like to discuss accessibility and the internet.

I first discovered the internet in 1995. I grew up in rural New England, in a very isolated and sheltered area. My father was from Brooklyn, so I knew that the world was much bigger than the tiny little farm town where we lived, even if I hadn’t actually visited these places myself.

When I got online for the first time, it changed my whole world.

Suddenly I could communicate and collaborate with people from places I’d only dreamed of. Suddenly my world became much larger than the tiny little town with its one general store and no traffic lights.

My new internet friends were mostly tech workers and researchers, but we were a diverse group. I had friends who spoke little English. I had friends not just outside New England, but in other countries on other continents.

This was mind blowing, after graduating from a class with 150 students. Walls came down. Borders and geographic location became nearly irrelevant.

It made the world bigger and smaller all at the same time.

I had friends who were blind, I had friends who were physically disabled and could only type using one button on a mouse. The internet, and the computers we used to access the internet, were improving, and it felt like this was becoming the great equalizer. Differences and disabilities became less of a barrier on the internet.

People with disabilities have historically been isolated in institutions or other oppressive situations where we get little access to the outside world, and now suddenly we can access the world from our bed.

But now, over 20 years later, I feel like we have regressed. The internet has simultaneously become more integral AND more exclusive than ever.

We exclude Deaf and hard of hearing people by refusing to caption videos or post transcripts.

We exclude people with vision impairments when we use images without descriptions, excessive graphics and popups, invasive advertisements, auto-playing videos with sound, low contrast styling, and just plain old bad design.

We exclude people with seizure disorders by using flashing animations without warning.

We exclude people with PTSD by posting unsolicited violence without content warnings.

Accessibility isn’t just about helping those of us with disabilities. It’s about helping those of us with limited data plans, without high speed internet, with older slower devices, with lower incomes, with language barriers.

Accessibility doesn’t just help those of us who need these accommodations right now. Prioritizing accessibility means that people who become disabled tomorrow will still have access. Prioritizing accessibility means that as today’s developers age, they’ll still be able to use their own products when they’re 100 years old and relying on their reading glasses and hearing aids.

I want accessibility to be a higher priority online. I’m often met with significant resistance when I request accessibility improvements, sometimes because the perceived demand isn’t high enough to justify the time and money required to improve it, and sometimes because the content producer simply doesn’t think it’s important enough to prioritize.

Let’s prioritize accessibility.

And let’s talk about how we can make that happen.