This article was initially posted in on Dec 29nd, 2015 in the Ottawa Business Journal . Most of us are more connected to the Internet than ever before. Not only do we have phones, tablets, game consoles, and televisions that are connected , but we also use the net for shopping, civic engagement, social and archival purposes. New appliances, cars and devices use the Internet without many of us even knowing it. So much of our lives are tangled up in the Web, and all indications are that this trend is increasing by leaps and bounds. Many people are concerned...
Green roof at Algonquin College
This article was written for the 2016 Masdar Blog Contest . I’ve been passionate about sustainability my entire adult life, all of which we have surpassed the earth's carrying capacity. When started my business, OpenConcept Consulting Inc. , my initial inspiration was to build collaboration within the not-for-profit sector. It was clear to me that many of the organizations world could be more effective if they were able to better collaborate. I saw open-source technology as a means to both advance their missions, and experiment with new ways of work together. Over the years we have done more work with...
Drupal 8 accessibility logo.
The W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative has recently (24 September 2015) released it's recommendations for Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 . The process for releasing W3C guidelines is a long and arduous process. A Canadian institution, the Inclusive Design Institute , has taken a leadership role in creating these guidelines. If people were still hand crafting pages in raw HTML like I did when I started OpenConcept, this wouldn't be needed. Fortunately, almost everyone uses some editing tool to help them create web pages. Now I still do editing with a plain text editor, vi , much of the time,...
Wind and solar farm in California.
Stephanie Daniels sums it up well, " Optimized sites are better for the environment. That’s because they’re significantly faster, more usable, with content that’s optimized for SEO and user experience. It’s my belief that Drupal has all of the tools in place to create sustainable websites…if you just know where to look.". If only I had Drupal back in 1995. That was the year I built my first website for a Fair Trade Retailer called Bridgehead. Back at this time, the Internet was a very different place. People were using the web at that point, but it wasn't embedded in...
Drupal 8 accessibility logo.
You may be familiar with the alternative text (alt) attribute that appears in <img> tags. The purpose of alt attributes is to provide a description of the contents of an image file. This description will appear when a user cannot see the image in their browser, when the image is searched on search engines, and in screen readers. But it is very easy to forget to include this text in your images and that is bad news for accessibility and SEO . In Drupal 8, alt attributes are now set to required by default on images . The same goes...
Many of the accessibility changes that have been made in Drupal 8 are pretty subtle. Most people probably won't realize that there is a deeper blue in the header and probably won't care. There have been a lot of little changes in Drupal 8 though to improve colour contrast. Many contributors to Drupal 8 Core check to see that Drupal adheres to accessibility standards. Colour Contrast is one of those standards. The Colour Contrast Guidelines are provided to assist those who are color blind or have low vision . For most users, this may only affect them when they step...
Drupal accessibility logo.
Remember those pesky divs you typically saw on a lot of Drupal sites? Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually understand what each of those divs actually meant? Well worry no more, Drupal 8 Core comes packaged with HTML5 optimized markup! If used HTML5 before, you’ll already know how big of an accessibility advantage this is. For those who haven’t, this blog is for you. Essentially the big difference between HTML5 and previous versions of HTML is semantics - how understandable and readable the code is. And HTML5 excels at it. HTML5’s Semantic Markup The biggest different between HTML5...
Drupal accessibility logo.
You probably wont notice it, but Drupal 8 comes packed with WAI-ARIA markup to ensure that your pages are as semantically correct as they can be out of the box. Who will notice it though is blind users who rely on additional meaning to be hard coded into the HTML of the site, rather than inferred from the visual cues on the page. Let’s say you’ve got an employee named Jim who needs to navigate your Intranet site like all of your other employees. Jim’s legally blind, and the open-source screen reader NVDA to help him with his work. Jim,...
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I’ve been thinking of the inspiring Martin Luther King Jr. quote and how much it has in common to web accessibility. I don’t make this comparison lightly, but web accessibility is a serious social justice issue which has many parallels with the Civil Rights Movement which he led. People with disabilities are routinely barred from participating in public spaces, are limited in their economic and political opportunities and routinely discriminated against. Legislation like the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has played a huge role in...
Web accessibility is an important but often neglected piece of today’s web environment. Drupal 7 Core made a step in making the websites more accessible by default. Since it's release there have been improvements to Core's accessibility and also to the contributed modules to make the platform much more accessible. Drupal 8 has added extensive support for accessibility in the Core. For anyone trying to make a barrier-free website, it is important to know what these features are and how each can be used. Throughout this series we will look into the variety of accessibility features that Drupal 8 will...