Meet Twenty Sixteen

Today, Tammie Lister introduced Twenty Sixteen, the next default theme for WordPress, to the world. It’s designed by the Takashi Irie, who also created Twenty Fourteen and Twenty Fifteen. In his own words:

Twenty Sixteen is a modernised approach of an ever-popular layout — a horizontal masthead and an optional right sidebar that works well with both blogs and websites. It has custom color options that allow you to make your own Twenty Sixteen. The theme was designed on a harmonious fluid grid with a mobile first approach. This means it looks great on any device.

If you want to get involved, make sure you’re following the Make WordPress Core blog, and check out the meeting times for Twenty Sixteen.

WordPress Core Contributor Streak

In case you missed it, WordPress 4.3 came out a few days ago. I contributed in a few small ways to both the default themes and the Customizer. After the release, I realized something even cooler than contributing to 4.3. I’ve contributed to the last five WordPress releases! It all started with 3.9, my first “props” in WordPress.

That’s a nice streak, and one I hope to keep going.

A11y Weekly

Today, I asked a simple question on Twitter about starting an accessibility newsletter.

I received a few positive responses, so I’m going to try it. I’ve registered the domain, and signed up for a newsletter service. Now to create a sign-up page, and start writing some content. I’m calling it A11y Weekly.

The idea didn’t come out of nowhere – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. Except today, the words of encouragement on Twitter gave me the nudge I needed.

If you have any thoughts to share for the first issue, send me a note on Twitter, or via my contact form.

Ten Years of Automattic

Our work is far from finished, and I hope there are hundreds of failures we learn from over the next 20 years. One of the things that makes me happiest is that I get to wake up every morning and work on the hard problem of making the web a better and more open place, and I do it alongside close to 400 talented people at Automattic and thousands in the broader community.

In Ten Years of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg talks about the first decade of the company he founded to help make the Web a better place. I’m proud to be a small part of that journey, and can’t wait to see where we go next.

Let WordPress Speak

WordPress 4.2 is shipping with a useful new JavaScript method: wp.a11y.speak(). This is a utility to make it easy for WordPress core to create consistent methods for providing live updates for JavaScript events to users of screen readers – with the side benefit that developers of plug-ins and themes can also make use of it either on the front or back end.

From Let WordPress Speak: New in WordPress 4.2 on Make WordPress Accessible.

I’m excited about this upcoming feature in WordPress and its ability to make modern, snappy JavaScript-powerd pieces of WordPress a great experience for screen reader users.

Accessible Zen: Version 1.1.5

I just released an update to Accessible Zen, the first one in almost a year! It’s been too long, something I hope doesn’t happen again. Release, release, release, as they say.

Big thanks to Lutz Donnerhacke for the German translation added in this update. Speaking of translations, that’s why I took so long to release this version. I tried to wait for translators to update files, based on the recent changes. But translators do their work out of the goodness of their hearts (Thank you!), and they didn’t have the time to verify that the packaged translations work perfectly. So I just released. 🙂 If you speak French or German, you could help out Accessible Zen in a big way. Take the translation files for a spin and update them. Send them my way, and I’ll release an update. The changelog is below for 1.1.4 and 1.1.5.

Grab the theme in the official theme directory.

April 12, 2015 Release: Version 1.1.5

News for Betty + Accessibility Hackathon

Today, I participated in an accessibility hackathon run by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, 18F, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, and DC Legal Hackers. The day was packed with demos, discussion and coding on all sorts of projects, ranging from solving the lack of alt attributes on Twitter images to a more efficient way to integrate Section 508 into the government procurement process.

We didn’t solve everything in one day, but we had lots of ideas, worked together and did it in the open. I contributed to a new, in-progress web app called News for Betty. It’s a news aggregator that takes the home pages of major news sources and cuts out the cruft, making it easier for people of all abilities get to the news faster. A fun project for a former journalist! You can check it out on Github. A handful of my pull requests centered on improving its accessibility have already been merged.

It’s easy to jump into any problem thinking you need to bring a new solution. With a newer, but established project like News for Betty, the creators had already formed a solid base to an existing problem. Sometimes you just need to give something support, a nudge in a new direction or a different way of thinking, and maybe a few pull requests. 🙂

This is especially true on the Web where thousands of worthy projects need more accessibility attention. What have you helped today?