For quite some time I have been trying to come up with the right words. I felt I needed to say something well enough to effect what I and many others thought needed changing. I wanted results for the benefit of all. We all wanted results. But it was a tough subject to broach. Now no one has to say a thing as David Shea has taken it upon himself. It began like this:
David Shea created the CSS Zen Garden website. It was and is an inspiration to me and so many like me. You see, David is quite handy with the development and deployment of CSS or Cascading Style Sheets, as his Zen Garden website clearly demonstrates. There was one small problem, though. Down at the bottom of that site were three letters: AAA. Those three little letters bespoke of a certain very difficult achievement: That his website met all of the web accessibility requirements of the W3CAI’s Web Accessibilities Priorities checklist. It simply wasn’t true, though.
I thought so at first. Many people did. It’s easy to be fooled when mechanical validators present you with a green light, thumbs up, and a little icon. Validators such as the one David used at Bobby’s Worldwide. There are, however, many things the mechanical validators cannot pick up and as Bobby’s Worldwide states themselves:
"Accessibility is ultimately a human endeavor. It is determined by whether or not a diverse group of people with a variety of abilities and disabilities can access information efficiently. Bobby is just one step in helping to make web pages more accessible, but cannot guarantee total accessibility."
David, like myself was duped into believing the green light, thumbs up, and icon. I found out the hard way when I made my Version Two Green-Beast.com website (my "Experiment" in Modern Web Design) and had it reviewed by experts. They told me it was close, maybe meeting the first priority checkpoint (A), maybe the second one as well (AA), but there was no way it was a triple-A site. But I learned and now know better. Thus, my new Version Three Green-Beast.com is a solid AA site as confirmed by my new friends and fellow members of the GAWDS Organization.
It’s a shame I was fooled the way I was but I do concede to it and tell anyone and everyone. I looked up to David Shea and his ultra-fantastic CSS Zen Garden website — it was my inspiration. His site is the whole reason I got into this web accessibilities thing. However, as I learned more and more, I realized his site didn’t meet the standards. This fact just blew me away. Shortcuts can’t be taken for the sake of design. I mean, really, try explaining that to someone who truly needs these accessibility features. You can’t. It’s a fine line which simply cannot be crossed. That’s why I wanted to tell David this. He was serving as a role model, inspiring people like me to tackle CSS-based web design. Unfortunately he was also showing people, like myself, that accessibilities was easy. I just had to say something. I discussed it with so many people, and we all felt the same way, but nobody, myself included, had the courage to speak up. It would be akin, perhaps, to telling God that He missed a spot in His creation of earth… okay, not quite like that, but you get the idea.
But now nobody has to say a thing. David Shea has done it himself in this Mezzoblue Triple-A Article. And for this David once again has my total respect. Kudos to you David Shea.