my rules for making an 11ty blog are arbitrary and they are fistfighting as we speak

this is technically an accessibility posta blog post about a blog8 min read

the mark­down and the non-mark­down are not to touch

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Usually the ra­tio­nale for this is “I don’t want to be re­liant on 11ty for­ever”, but hon­estly, it’s just out of prin­ci­ple for me.

Closest I’ll al­low is, like, the front­mat­ter at the top of a .md page, and what­ever markup you’d qual­ify mark­down-it-con­tainer as hav­ing. Everything else, ab­solutely not; the en­tire ap­peal of us­ing mark­down is that, de­spite tech­ni­cally be­ing a kind of code, it is also an ex­tremely easy-to-read doc­u­ment, even when you throw it into a notepad or nano or what­ever. I’ve tried putting cus­tom HTML into a mark­down file be­fore, and, not so co­in­ci­den­tally, it re­sults in WIPs that I never fin­ish, where every time I go back to it, I have to spend an­other minute re­mind­ing my­self why I put cer­tain tags where I did.

If I have to re­mem­ber how to read text, some­thing has gone hor­ri­bly wrong.

Ideally, stuff should just work, like this eleventy-img helper plu­gin that just pulls from the raw, al­ready-con­verted HTML, but fail­ing that, it at least needs to look like it’d be­long in a read­able doc­u­ment. 11ty short­codes are out­lawed in these files; those are all, quite lit­er­ally, just cus­tom HTML-esque func­tions but in curly brack­ets. When you see cus­tomized line­breaks (such as the ones pre­ced­ing all my h2 tags), it’s be­cause I did some­thing else to get them in there au­to­mat­i­cally.

a screenshot of this very webpage with the paragraphs you just read, first in VSCodium and then in browser
read­able on the left, still all put where it should be on the right

This is­n’t a big deal, right? Just stack a bunch of mark­down-it plu­g­ins, call it a day, surely. Well, un­for­tu­nately, uh,

it needs to ac­tu­ally work on stuff peo­ple use to read

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I am, first and fore­most, some­one with a vis­i­ble dis­abil­ity; I’ve got shit legs with blood ves­sels that seem to only func­tion on pure guess­work, and as it turns out you of­ten need those ves­sels to work well if you want to stand on your own two legs. To that end, I use a walk­ing cane, this shitty lit­tle T-shaped stick I bought at a Shoppper’s Drug Mart for twenty bucks, as­sum­ing I’d buy a fancier one when it in­evitably broke.

(It still works, nearly five years later, and that means I can’t jus­tify one that ac­tu­ally looks good. About my kind of sus­pi­ciously bad-good luck, re­ally.)

I say this be­cause, even if I don’t tech­ni­cally need things like screen read­ers or zoom func­tions, I also know ex­actly how it feels to re­minded, con­stantly, of how your sur­round­ings could not even be­gin to adapt to you. If I were to make a point on what hav­ing this cane does to me, it’s ex­clu­sively in the realm of see­ing a store, and then not be­ing able to go in it, be­cause in­stead of an el­e­va­tor, some ass­hole de­cided that they re­ally needed to make you go on the pub­lic lift of shame.

a stair lift that is next to stairs so short that they shouldn't even be stairs
this is i think more of a per­sonal one but they all look like this any­ways so
(Stair Lift by Auntie P, li­censed un­der CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Yes, re­ally. Those things your grandma does­n’t want to use, be­cause it’s a very ob­vi­ously mis­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence, not only can be put in pub­lic, they are ac­tu­ally ex­tremely com­mon where I live. They’re not only ex­tremely slow, and em­bar­rass­ing, but if you need to hold or be on lit­er­ally any­thing, they’re also com­pletely use­less to you. Accessibility!

I feel like, if I am to learn web­dev shit, I am to avoid cre­at­ing stair lifts when I do. Make sure the screen read­ers play nice, and all. Again, this all seems rea­son­able, right?

And that’s where I ad­mit, out loud, to a prob­lem I am hav­ing.

i must get re­ally mad on the com­puter when i have to choose be­tween those two rules

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There’s foot­notes on this blog. Like this one! Link to foot­note 1

I like foot­notes, be­cause I’m noth­ing if not a ball of end­less ram­bling, and foot­notes are de­signed to let you ram­ble with­out break­ing the pace of your own writ­ing. Big fan of foot­notes!

Problem: out of the box, they aren’t very good foot­notes. If you screen read them by de­fault, they will not hand you any­thing re­sem­bling leg­i­bil­ity, in­stead just awk­wardly spit­ting out a text-to-speech’s best way to in­ter­pret [1]. This is es­pe­cially in­fu­ri­at­ing, be­cause it’s not like the is­n’t any­thing for it to be putting there in­stead. I’m for­mat­ting them like this, af­ter all:

There's footnotes on this blog. Like this one![^this-one-right-here] 

[^this-one-right-here]: Yeah, like that.

At min­i­mum, you’d think it could at least, like, spit out that short­hand, right? It would­n’t be per­fect, since that short­hand has to have no spaces, but es­pe­cially if I could, like, break that short­hand down to one word, I could have some screen reader shit set up like

Link to footnote: "${FOOTNOTE_MARKER}"

or what­ever, and that would be pretty al­right? Except when the plu­gin that I use, markdown-it-footnote, parses the text in brack­ets, it does­n’t seem to put that any­where I can use it for this pur­pose. There’s what I’d imag­ine is a more ac­ces­si­ble foot­note plu­gin for 11ty, Link to foot­note 2 and it very much solves the sec­ond rule, but it does­n’t break the first rule so much as it puts the rule through a hy­draulic press, be­ing made up of gi­gan­tic short­codes that kill the en­tire pace of the para­graph–and again, for not much rea­son, be­cause there’s no rea­son I should­n’t just be able to pull out the foot­note la­bel from the syn­tax I’m us­ing right now and call it a day.

I’ve used 11ty be­fore, on a much smaller pro­ject, and it is filled to the brim with short­code-rid­dled mark­down files. I also never wanted to touch that again, all be­cause I can­not stand how aw­ful it is to look at from a glance. If my op­tions are “use things that make it harder to write” and “don’t write”, I will al­ways end up choos­ing the lat­ter, and then I end up never mak­ing any­thing at all.

This brings me to the last rule.

when there’s prob­lems, just deal with it my­self

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I have a snip­pet which gives markdown-it-footnote some­thing re­sem­bling ex­tremely ba­sic ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and I posted it here. I will not tell you that it’s good; all it does is tell you, via screen reader, that there’s a link to a foot­note de­fined by a num­ber, be­cause it’s pri­mar­ily just me rip­ping ca­bles right out of the plug­in’s guts and hop­ing I can sol­der them in slightly bet­ter places, and none of the ca­bles I tore seem to let me put in my own words. It also does­n’t work in fire­fox’s own reader mode, which is prob­a­bly a sign I’m go­ing about it the wrong way, but it at least shows that a) there are tools, even to some­one as bad at cod­ing as I am, to solve these things, and b) you could at least try a lit­tle bit to solve them, if you care so much about this stuff.

I don’t think that’s ask­ing for much, hon­estly. The metaphor­i­cal ramp next to the stairs does­n’t even have to be a grace­ful one. I just need some­one to con­sider the ramp at all be­fore they shove an­other lift in my face.

  1. Yeah, like that. Return to ar­ti­cle via foot­note 1

  2. I’d link it, but it feels wrong to link a pro­ject I’m ex­plic­itly say­ing I don’t like very much? Maybe that’s the wrong kind of eti­quette to have? Is there a dif­fer­ent rule to this when it comes to open-source code, I dunno, it just feels rude Return to ar­ti­cle via foot­note 2 by nomiti ityool 2024
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if you use this for AI i hope my dogshit sentence structure poisons it