Notes about Web Accessibility – Part 1

I’m studying about Accessibility standards and best practices for the web. I decided to share my notes here, I hope you find them useful and we can improve the web together.

Status: Work in progress.
Last update: June 17, 2015

Lesson 1: Add AlternativesText for Images. 

Alternative text  is a text equivalent for a non-text element on the page.

How?
Add alt attribute to images and input type=”image”

Examples:

<img src=”mydog.jg” alt=”My dog” />
<input alt=”Submit” src=”img-submitbutton.jpg” type=”image” />

When an image is not a link, and carries no information or is redundant, use null alternative text ( alt=”” ). Images with null alternative text will be ignore by screen readers.

The alternative text should be consistent, clear and, most important, useful.

Alt-text is required for all images.

  • If the image is active (link, button, area) the text alternative should describe the link’s function.
  • if the image is not active but conveys information, the text alternative conveys the same information.
  • if the image is redundant or conveys no information use alt=”” for the text alternative.
  • If the image is text then the alt-text should (usually) be the same as the text in the image.

TIPS: How to write better alternative text.

  1. Write the function of the image, not its description.
  2. If the image is a link, or it’s inside a link tag, do not reference to the fact that it is a link. Screen readers will mention this anyways.
  3. Avoid words like “picture of…”, “image of…” or “link to…”
  4. Use the fewest number of words necessary.
  5. Use CSS to create graphic custom bullets. If you can not use CSS use null or “bullet” as alternative text.
  6. Include the image related to a link inside the link tag. And use null as alternative text.
  7. Use a text-only browser or hide the images on your browser to review your alternative text. You can also use an screen reader to check the page before publishing it.

Lifetime memories, thanks and 580 days in California

I just watched a video about how being grateful makes you happy and it made me remember a lot of great memories. And I feel thankful and happy.

I learned that being grateful is important many years ago from a great mentor and friend, José Adolfo López Sampsom Félix, who I call just Josefo. And he taught us it’s important not only to feel it, but say it. It’s important to say thank you to all the people that gave you something big or small along your life.

Now, I don’t remember if I said “thanks” to him for this lesson and I think this is a good opportunity to do it. Almost 10 years later, thank you Josefo! Thanks for teaching us to be thankful among a lot of other things.

I can’t count all the people that have taught me something. I can’t count all the people that have given me their time and attention and love. But I want to send big thanks and big love to all of you. I hope sometime I can thank you personally all of you.

And please, people who is reading this… I really recommend you saying thanks the most you can. It feels right and it’s proved it helps you be happier! And it’s free.

Finally, just saying, I have been living in California 580 days (1 year and 7 months exactly). It’s quite a long time, right?

What happened at Coding Dojo Bootcamp

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Many people have asked me about my experience at Coding Dojo. And I can perfectly understand why people are so curious… Coding Dojo is not the normal path of people who want to start a new career and become a developer.

Coding Dojo is not a school, I may say it is not a company, at least not a traditional company. I think Coding Dojo is more like a community.

But for me, it was an learning accelerator. I can’t imagine how long it would take me to learn all this things. From Wireframing, HTML, CSS and jQuery to PHP and Codeigniter, to Ruby on Rails. Including OOP, AJAX, Database design and MySql, a little bite of Cloud Server and an overview of Mobile App prototyping with jQuery Mobile and PhoneGap. It’s just a lot for only a few weeks.

If I try to summarize it, some of my treats from it are:

  • I can consider myself a beginner full stack developer. I can understand the process of developing a web application from concept development and wireframes to deployment and testing.
  • I got a pretty decent level of working proficiency in Front-end technologies, specially HTML, CSS and jQuery. 
  • I learned the fundamentals of two Back-end technologies (PHP and Ruby) and their frameworks. And I have projects to prove it.
  • I’m part of a great community of new developers and I had the opportunity to share this intense and fun experience with a group of smart and hard-working people. And I’m sure I would keep in touch with many of them for many years.
  • I know what I want: keep learning and building stuff.

I know the developer path is long and it’s an endless learning process. But I’m so happy to have found Coding Dojo to start this new path. I’ve learned from Michael, Coding Dojo team and classmates a lot. It has been just so enriching and educational that I think I could be more lucky!
Thank you all!

No it’s time to get out there and prove what I can really do! And keep learning! 😉

I want to be a UI designer.

I arrived in Silicon Valley in March 2012.
After one year living here, I can say it has been one of the most exciting years of my life, but also one of the toughest.

Feeling awful with no clear direction

I never thought I would live in California. Actually, I tough I could live anywhere but in the US.  I don’t want to talk a lot about emotional details, but let’s say it was harder than I thought for me to make this decision. I moved to Silicon Valley, after having “the time of my life” living in India for 6 months. And I was already missing my family and friends when I came here.

I came to Silicon Valley without a startup idea, no technical skills and no job. I only had my boyfriend, few friends and a lot of enthusiasm.

I started going to events, a couple of weeks after I moved, and it was like hitting a wall. I was feeling unconfident with my english proficiency, I felt everyone else knew more than me and the worst thing was that I was not sure what I wanted to do with my career!

Finding what I wanted to do and UCSC-Extension

Summer arrives, I managed to get an internship with Yogome Inc. as a Community Manager. And I must say thank you Manolo, Aleksa and Albert for making me feel part of the team and for trusting me to manage your community. It was a great time. It gave me more confidence and it opened a lot of doors. But I still needed to find a full-time job and get a work permit if I wanted to stay in the US.

So, by August, I found a way to stay longer in the US so I could keep searching for a job and also get a work permit: studying.
I did all the paper work with a tight deadline and started a Web Design and UX design certificate at UCSC-Extension Silicon Valley.

By September 2012, I had 6 months in Silicon Valley, enjoying all the events and all the “happenings”. And I finally found what I wanted to do: UI design. Discovering this gave me a shot of renewed enthusiasm and happiness, and a new list of objectives.

I needed to learn how to code in the first place, and tailor my marketing skills to be a good UX designer. UCSC-Extension courses are good and I learned a lot. But I realized their main target is people who are doing continues studies and the courses are designed for people that are working and studying at the same time, and this makes them slow for me. I had no time to lose if I really wanted to become a UI designer a.k.a. Front-end engineer by June 2013 when I expect to get my work permit.

The light at the end of the road

The hardest time was by the end of 2012. My boyfriend was also looking for a new job and  a new sponsor for his H1B visa. That meant two people in a household looking for a job and living from savings.

Being honest it was not that bad. Everyday we started doing the job search work. We were both also taking some online courses and studying different things by ourselves trying to upgrade our skills. And actually, working at home is not bad at all, you can have home-made food everyday and we spend most of our time together.
We were also going to all kind of events: recruiting events, networking events, training events, and everything else we thought was useful.

And some events were actually useful! It was in a meetup that my boyfriend met Michael Choi, the CEO and founder of Coding Dojo. Michael invited my boyfriend to their part-time web development course, and he invited me.
At the beginning I was a little scared. Becoming a full stack engineer in a couple of months? My engineer friends studied for years! And this guy wanted us to learn how to build, test, deploy and manage a website in a couple of months?
My expectations weren’t so big. I wanted to be able to understand the code and and maybe able to put a quick prototype website out there.

The part-time course was amazing, we got together 2 or 3 days a week and my boyfriend and I were so excited that we also were coding every minute we had available. After a couple of weeks I was starting my first web development project and it was an awesome experience!
My boyfriend and I developed a site for a friend in Mexico (Mexican travel site called Jalisco al Natural), and presented it in the Demo Day at Coding Dojo before the year ends.

In February, Coding Dojo full time bootcamp started and I got the opportunity to join it. And it’s been such a great experience. People in the bootcamp have different backgrounds, experiences and dreams. I found I’m not the only crazy one that want to became a developer.

I think I’ll write another blog post to go deeply into the Bootcamp details. Because there are so many good stories to tell and I have learned so many things!
I’m now programming in Ruby on Rails, I did a couple of projects in PHP and Codeingiter, I have designed 2 projects already on my own (besides “Jalisco al Natural” that I worked with my boyfriend), doing wireframes, database design, Front-end and Back-end. And I think this is only the starting point of a long, happy and fruitful career. And I don’t know… maybe as an entrepreneur or a founder.

I just know that today I’m happy to be here, I feel blessed to have so many nice people around and all the support and love from friends and family back home too.
I would like to give a special thanks to Ignacio, my boyfriend, for all his love and support this last year.