Blue Beanie Day aka Thanks for giving me a job, Jeffrey Zeldman!

Book: Designing with Web Standards, Edition 3, by Jeffrey Zeldman
Designing with Web Standards, Edition 3, by Jeffrey Zeldman

Ok, ok, Blue Beanie Day is November 30th each year. I’m late to the game.  But since implementing and testing for web standard in accessibility is my career, I have to spend some time acknowledging the importance of learning and implementing standards in the digital world.

There is still significant progress needed to teach web standards to anyone learning and working in a digital context. The evidence is glaring at me like a kid who didn’t get their way. I went to a good college. But Occidental College was never going to be my last educational stepping stone in the Game of Life. I transition into the technology field focusing on accessibility for people with disabilities, after a bachelors and masters degree. Six years in intercultural program management, and two years in business analysis later, I am troubled by the use of education degrees in computer science as a primary  way to determine whether a candidate is worth pursuing. Job descriptions in general are often unhelpful in communicating what a team needs to fill a specific post. But especially in my field of accessibility, I’m seeing that many textbooks in computer science areas of web development skip over the application to accessibility entirely, bringing home my point: the degree itself is largely irrelevant to the needs of the job.

So what’s the solution? Teach accessibility in classroom settings, for one. Not as an extra class for those who may consider the “just” path of computers for “good”. If you’re gonna develop, design, plan, write, or test web or other digital information,  accessible web standards are not extra. They are integral to the perception, operation, understanding, and multi-device compatibility of anything.

And for those of us either entering the field after formal education, or those who have been in a design or developer role for years that are stumped by the phrase “accessible to everyone”,  it’s okay to get schooled.

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