HELLO WORLD! | The Self, the Internet, and Accessibility

11-22-2022 Word Count: 861

Hello hello! Welcome to my website! Consider this the official "launch" of my personal little niche on the net. I made this little website here as a foray into the "mortifying ordeal of being known" after a long and hard think about how hard it has been my whole life to make and keep friends with similar interests. I’ve been working on my website for a bit over a month now, trying to decide what I would want to showcase about myself and how much I want to have “done” before sharing. Realistically I know it’ll probably never be "done," just like how as people we are always living and growing and changing. I just wanted to have something more substantial than a single paragraph and three images before sharing. Future additions to the website will be pages to display my art, some of my collections, and some funny little essays I plan to write. I think I also want to have a little art gallery of works that have been super inspirational to me, but I don’t know if I would be able to make it engaging.

This site was quite literally made with rose-tinted glasses, I would go so far as to even say nostalgia goggles. I took a lot of inspiration from a lot of what I remember old deviantArt and LiveJournal looked like, as well as many many other websites hosted here on Neocities that long to bring back the old web. There are some great reasons as to why I and many other webmasters are committing to personal websites as opposed to social media. The kind of visual artistic expression that was possible on old social media websites like old YouTube and deviantArt just doesn't exist anymore anywhere except for Tumblr, where a majority of the user base doesn't even know it's there. I’ve made very few friends in my life, and I wonder if it’s because I don’t really dump all my thoughts and interests anywhere people can actually see, and go ":O I know that thing too!"

Unfortunately though I came to find that a lot of these old web revival sites are also bringing back the lack of accessibility that was common and unchecked. In the last few weeks I've been browsing websites, I've noticed that people are very liberal with what they consider "warnings" on their splash pages. I don't intend to come off too accusatory, and don't believe that these webmasters are purposefully misleading users to trigger them. I also, however, feel deliberately misled when I see a page that says "some flashing images" which leads to a homepage that has an unstoppable looping gif background and is covered in fast-moving neon buttons. I have to wonder if it is an attempt to keep people from clicking away, because it’s not really "that bad," but it’s annoying at best and incredibly dangerous at worst.

Hell, I have photophobia (for me it presents as aversion, discomfort, tearing up in response to and being overwhelmed and overstimulated by bright lights and flashing colors) and I already feel extreme discomfort when I feel as though the amount of flashing content is misrepresented. I suspect this is simply because the webmasters have no frame of reference for what is "minimal" amounts of flashing and moving images compared to what is a "large" amount of flashing and moving images which would make a webpage actively dangerous for someone with more severe photosensitive medical conditions than I do.

I’ve been working with the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) right before I officially start advertising this place, and I find not necessarily limitations or more "difficult" work to do, but rather a struggle between following the guidelines and using the tools to offer an equal experience to non-sighted users to experience all the pictures I use. Particularly on my about page, there is no way I can condense my descriptions of those characters down to under the recommended 100 character limit the tool suggests because then there is information outright missing, especially if they have no context as to who they are. I think I’ll have to keep an eye on what actual non-sighted people prefer, which is, I think, far more important than forcing myself to keep within a small word count for the sake of my website displaying a "good grade" in their specific accessibility measures.

I know for a fact that I'm only one person, and that I'll never be able to accommodate every single type of adaptive technology used to enjoy the internet. At the same time though, I do think it's my responsibility, and the responsibility of other webmasters, to keep accessibility and readability at the forefront of their mind when creating something they wish to share, and to be honest and clear when they can't include absolutely everyone.




A pixel art footer image of black gothic style fences. The fence pickets have a point on the top, and there are two horizontal beams that run along the middle of the pickets.