A light in the dark!

20 January 2012

So, things went sort of dark on this blog, didn't they? It's for a good cause, I assure you. I'm writing a book.

Okay, you've probably heard that before. I know I have. I've had to sit through the elevator pitches for someone's cyber-steam-anti-punk novel-no-wait-graphic-novel opus many a time. This is a real book, though, with a contract and EVERYTHING.

Sadly, it's not about a cyber-steam-anti-punk heroine with pluck and nerve and awesome boots. I'll get around to that book, one day. What my book is about is accessibility and 508 compliance. Long story short, '508' refers to a US Federal law mandating that all applications and websites created for the Federal government be accessible to all people, in spite of their disability. Short story even shorter: All the stuff for all the people.

It's a topic that I was dropped into when I started working on a government contract, and found that meeting 508 was causing our applications to be delayed over and over. It was easier just to learn it and do it right the first time. The more I learned about it, the more fascinating I found it to be, though, and I found myself picking over other open source projects and getting irritated that more people couldn't make accessible websites.

When I started looking around, though, I found that even though there are a ton of sites to help you become accessible, there weren't any books directed at the people making the products that needed to be accessible. The books I did find were either written for lawyers, or were horribly outdated. Accessibility moves just as fast as the rest of the web. A few years ago, Javascript and Flash were considered unaccessible. Now, they're much more accepted. More alternate input devices have been created. Certain groups have become more vocal, fighting to be accepted as those who should have an accessible web as well. It's also turned out that accessible websites often have much better usability.

I don't plan on letting the blog go fallow until May, when the book is due, but I will be racheting down the posting to a comfortable "When I can get to it" pace. On the upside, I do plan on writing about writing, to hopefully encourage more of you out there to join me in writing tech books. The world needs more tech books that focus on teaching (a blog post is coming up about how we learn), because we do the next generation of developers a disservice when we insist that they can just bounce around on the Internet to pick up what they need. We also do ourselves a disservice, because you know we'll end up having to fix their crap code.


Related tags: 508 writing

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