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Small steps

Sod’s law dictates that as soon as I plan to do something blog related these days, real life intervenes. Bleh.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about how to go about the accessible blog templates idea and jotted down a few notes. Thoughts, ideas, criticisms all welcomed!

Hosting:
I’ve plenty spare.

Name ideas:
accessibleblogs.net
equalweb
blogaccess
accessblog
blogaccessibility
opensauce (taken dammit!)
I’m betting that you lot can come up with better than these!

Logo:
Ideas please! (when we’ve got the name sorted)
Include a button for linking back to spread the word.

Format:
How about a blog format where all participants have logins.

* The main section is devoted to the templates and would follow a set pattern
– a small screenshot of the template (link to larger shot)
– the code zipped (with any graphics)
– install notes, etc.
– name of the author, link to site
– terms of use [or link to terms of use page]

* Categories for 1, 2, 3 column template and for blogging software [so that visitors can sort by Blogger, MT, WordPress, etc.]

* Create a gallery of thumbnails sorted by 1, 2, 3 columns? Later, if necessary?

* Each post would have open comments to allow questions and discussion on the template

* In the FAQ or a seperate “How to” page we would need to explain exactly how to “install” the templates

* We could also have a sideblog for links to useful news items, articles, etc. all participants encouraged to post regularly.

* Rather than a blogroll have a categorised links page full of useful sites, articles (permalinks), forum discussions etc..

* Big commitment not necessary, invite people to design templates

About page:
What do people mean when they say a site needs to be accessible and why should you care? If you’re on this page, hopefully you have an interest in making your blog available to anyone who stops by.

Who’s involved? [So far…]
Pixeldiva
Eliza from Fembat
Clair
Anyone else?

FAQ
A good, basic introduction to accessibility, links to good tutorial(s) and a small steps section, e.g. if you don’t feel ready to add a new template to your blog you can start small by… blah, blah.

Are these templates free to use?
Yes they are! If you’d like to link back to this site so that others can learn about accessibility issues, that would be lovely, thank you!

Maintenance costs:
My hosting plan should cover it but we could think about adding a tip jar and/or google ads for donations to RNID, RNIB, etc. Are any charities working directly with web accessibility issues?

What else is out there?
Hmm. I’m sure that there are plenty of templates that meet accessibility standards but they aren’t being marketed as such. Or maybe I’ve not spent enough time googling. There’s the Bauhaus template and general (but very useful) articles such as
How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers but no central resource as far as I can see.

And there is a need for it.

So: your thoughts, ideas, criticisms are all welcomed!

24 Responses to “Small steps”

  1. Clair
    May 24th, 2005 12:01
    1

    I think this sounds like a really interesting project, I’d be up for getting involved.

  2. pixeldiva
    May 24th, 2005 12:13
    2

    Okay, couple of off the top of me ‘ead ideas:

    Need to set a standard of accessibility that all the templates need to meet, or at least, each template states which level of accessibility it meets.

    Suggest A as minimum, but would be better if it got as close to AA as possible.

    All templates really should be reviewed by someone other than the author to confirm level of accessibility of basic templates and to ensure that the “style guide” for want of a better word includes adequate instructions so that if someone follows them they’ll meet the aimed for standard.

    It should be stated that once the template is “in the wild” that the responsibility for maintenance of accessibility falls on the user of the template, not the author.

    More later…

  3. Daisy
    May 24th, 2005 12:19
    3

    Great news Clair!

    Pix, you is a genius (again) ;-0)

  4. briggy
    May 24th, 2005 12:57
    4

    …but surely daisy you can sum all of this up in a cute pic of a daschund balancing a pint of beer on his nose for us technical deficients!

  5. Clair
    May 24th, 2005 15:42
    5

    opensauce.org appears to be currently available, and I do think that it’s a great name.

  6. Daisy
    May 24th, 2005 15:45
    6

    Clair, I have this vague memory at the back of my mind that you have to be a registered charity/non profit to qualify for a dot org?

  7. Clair
    May 24th, 2005 15:55
    7

    I don’t think so. I’ll have a look though.

  8. pixeldiva
    May 24th, 2005 16:07
    8

    I don’t think they ever actually check on those, unless there’s a naming conflict, and for that, I doubt there would be…

  9. Eliza
    May 24th, 2005 17:34
    9

    I have plenty of dot org’s. Pixeldiva is quite correct, provided their is no naming conflict abnyone is free to use dot orgs.

    I like some of your proposals, and really like the opensauce.org domain ;-)

  10. Andrea
    May 24th, 2005 20:44
    10

    I like playing with WordPress a lot and try to make sure that my site validates, but I have no clue about accessibility, oops?

    Um, I could probably provide links and stuff and help with WordPress questions and tell people that deciding not to have your links underlined and then making them almost the exact same color as the normal text is really uncool, and um, that’s about it? And I usually steal my templates from kind CSS people and fiddle around with them a little, so I can’t provide these either. Oops.

    So, er, I’m up for it, but I’ll be pretty useless.

  11. Richard
    May 24th, 2005 21:19
    11

    Sort of on-topic, can I recommend Access Matters, a blog that focuses on matters of accessibility. It makes for interesting reading.

    I might be able to put together an accessible WordPress theme for your project. I was impressed with the flexibility of the new WordPress template system when designing my new blog. So I think it would be quite interesting to work on another theme for a good project like this.

  12. Daisy
    May 24th, 2005 22:45
    12

    Well I’ve been googling for a bit and I think you guys are right:
    webmaster world (but no official links supplied)

    From BT Yahoo:
    What is the difference between .com, .net, and .org domain names?

    Originally, the three letter suffix after the dot in domain names indicates whether the domain name was used for commercial (.com), network (.net), or non-profit (.org) purposes.

    Although there are guidelines, anyone may register these regardless of the intended use.

    The suffixes .net and .org are good alternatives if the domain names you want in .com is already taken.

    I’m not sure about opensauce, there’s a blog by that name too so we’re still looking for a killer name :-)

    Andrea: that means you’re more knowledgable than 92.4% of bloggers* so welcome on board!

    Richard: thank you, that would be wonderful. I love the new look at Lemon Garden. Cheers for the tip, I’ve been reading Access Matters for a little while (it’s on the Accessibility blogroll over there on the right).

    * 72.9% of quoted statistics are made up.

  13. Fi
    May 24th, 2005 22:52
    13

    I could help with some basic MT stylesheets, if needed?

  14. pixeldiva
    May 24th, 2005 22:59
    14

    Thinking about it, and looking at the list above, I keep coming back to equalweb(.org) I quite like it because it isn’t limited to just blogs, which gives a little more scope for this baby project to grow into something much bigger.

    Also, if you’ll excuse me a moment of hippydom, I’ve always thought of the web as somewhere where everyone is (should be) equal, which is one of the reasons I got into accessibility in the first place – to do my bit to make help make it so.

    Also, equalweb.org is currently available.

    Of course, if anyone has a better idea, please do shout… just cos I’ve got a bit of a dose of the gobby about me at the moment doesn’t mean I have all the best ideas :)

  15. Andy
    May 24th, 2005 23:03
    15

    The only problem with going for a domain with a different tld is that people will end up at the other one if all they can remember is the domain. especially if the .com one is taken before the .org

    Its a neat idea though and I’ll be keeping my eye on it.

  16. pixeldiva
    May 24th, 2005 23:17
    16

    equalweb.com is taken and is a spamfest, which is a bit of a pain.

    equalweb.net is taken but doesn’t resolve.

    equalweb.org is perfect – it’s a non-profit thing and if it gets popular enough, it’ll wind up at the top of google anyway.

  17. Clair
    May 25th, 2005 09:59
    17

    Equal Web sounds good to me.

  18. Lyle
    May 25th, 2005 14:26
    18

    I’m in, for sure.

    Whether it’s basic coding for the site or whatever, let me know.

  19. Birdy
    May 25th, 2005 22:32
    19

    I doubt I’m useful. But excellent idea. If you need a slightly sarcastic disability equality person, please shout! And I’ll definitely use one of your templates.

  20. andre
    May 29th, 2005 18:03
    20

    blogsauce?

    I’ll shut up now, and watch in wonder from afar

  21. Tam
    May 30th, 2005 12:32
    21

    Is it too much to hope that axe-ass-able.com hasn’t been snapped up by lumberjack porn enthusiasts? hmm? :)

  22. Gordon
    June 17th, 2005 11:20
    22

    Hmmm – just about to have usability stuff added to my role at work so this might fit nicely. And as a tech author by trade I can help with the “How to” stuff – I’ve been known to dabble in web design and stuff as well…

    As for the site, I’d warrant that as time progresses the templates AND the info will become equally valid – double attraction as some people will just want a free template, whereas some people will want the info.

    An explanation of the site’s own design will be required as well, lest it is hoisted on it’s own petard – not that I’m suggesting there are ANY small minded individuals who’d spend hours finding fault with the design not being accessible in … ohh I dunno.. Lynx or Netscape 1.0 or something…

    I’d also suggest an agreed “voice” if possible, not preachy, light and friendly, and matched by the logo and design. Think Flickr, 37 Signals, etc etc.

    Gee, guess I’m throwing my hat into the ring as well.

  23. Gordon
    June 17th, 2005 11:24
    23

    Also – where do web standards fit in to all this? If we can nail that one there’s another audience that will open up.

    AND I’m a (inactive at present) member of the WordPress doc team, and I’m sure we could get a little cross promotion article in place with a little effort.

  24. Gordon
    June 17th, 2005 11:27
    24

    P.S. NO idea how I missed this post – just spotted it via Bloglines though, phew!

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