Inaccessibility Checker plugin installed at FtB

A few times during FtBCon 1, I had complained that people who use screen readers often have a hard time of making sense of some bloggers’ tendency of putting up an image as the sum total of their post, without even the decency of alt text or a caption for people with vision disabilities. Worse yet, when I put up a post detailing our beta-testing a new subscription feature, one of the first comments I got was a request that something be done about that tendency, pointing to a plugin called the Inaccessibility Checker.

The interesting thing about that is, that plugin has actually been installed at Lousy Canuck for about a month, since it was programmed by our resident programmer friend, CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain. I was giving it a shake-down run before pushing it network-wide. This weekend, I have enabled it across all of Freethought Blogs, firing a warning shot across the bows of all those bloggers in our fold who are not accommodating the simple request for alt tags. From now on, when a blogger previews their posts and they’ve inserted images that don’t have alt text or captions, they will be informed by a helpful notice that their image is lacking in that tags.

This of course depends on people actually hitting Preview before they publish their posts. If you see someone who hasn’t done so, feel free to tell them to preview the post before publishing, as a reminder that not everyone is consuming this content as text on a screen. We can make this community better for everyone by all of us checking our privilege once in a damn while.

And that goes double for me — rake me over the coals if I slip up from now on, too, because I should damn well know better. I’m certain there’s a bunch of stuff in my old pre-FtB posts that aren’t properly linked (and many whose image links are actually broken, even, making them doubly useless for everyone).

Last-second sanity from Texas on abortion restriction law!

Well this is some heartening news.

Less than 24 hours before new abortion regulations were set to take effect in Texas, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday blocked implementation of one provision challenged by abortion providers and partially blocked a second provision, ruling that they could place an undue burden on women and are therefore unconstitutional.

In his opinion, Yeakel wrote that a provision of House Bill 2 that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”

Yeah, considering most abortion doctors have to come in from out of state, no kidding it’s an undue burden on women. But that’s how the religious want it — rights for clumps of cells who could potentially become religious, and no rights for these clumps of cells’ incubators.

Nice that something that’s clearly unconstitutional is getting slapped down as such.

Update: Well never mind then. A conservative judge just reinstated the unconstitutional crap and now over a dozen facilities will have to close.

Vintage 90s anti-”socialism” healthcare fearmongering

Any of this sound familiar? There sure is a lot of pushback against everyone getting healthcare in your country for some strange reason. And it seems to be coming from the same anti-humanistic religious sources.

Surely Jesus would be against healing the sick without first making a profit, amirite? The only truly American health care rationing is the kind that makes sure you can only get health care if you can pay out of pocket!

Found by Everything Is Terrible.

Beta-testing a new feature.

I’ve had the plugin that I’ve been talking about for Freethought Blogs mostly-done for a few weeks now, and I’ve had it installed on the live server for that time with no ill effects. Tonight, I managed to get the final pieces of the puzzle out of the way, and it’s ready to go live.

However, I never like to go into production without a slow rollout, with only the bravest of the brave testing out the features and making sure things are kosher. So, here we are.
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Lila Rose, anti-abortionist, tries to steal Malala Yousafzai’s activist cred

If you ever decide to unironically compare yourself to a civil rights activist who has risked everything and (almost) lost it all while fighting for, say, a woman’s right to be educated, and your cause is as patently uncivil as preventing women from choosing what to do with their bodies, expect to get laughed at and mocked. A lot.

Especially the moreso when the person you’re comparing yourself to got shot in the head for wanting the right to intellectual autonomy, with a bullet grazing her brain and coming within millimetres of killing her, and you’ve never seen real danger in your entire goddamn life and yet you’re fighting for a cluster of cells less than a millimetre across to have more rights over a woman’s bodily autonomy than the woman herself. All because you did a guerilla video campaign for Live Action, undercutting Planned Parenthood, which is as feminist an organization as has ever gotten national traction. Slow fucking clap.

I bet she didn’t ever say “Yousafzai” because she doesn’t know how. I bet, in fact, she knows almost nothing about Malala Yousafzai or her fight, except what someone told her would make good speech fodder.

Found at Right Wing Watch.

Asexual awareness week

Once upon a time, I was young and foolish, and thinking I was so enlightened about sexuality I suggested at a lunch table with friends that Freud was onto something when he said “the only unnatural sexuality is none at all”. Little did I know a friend at that table with me — about whom I think the world, and would never want to hurt — identified as asexual.

I was mortified to learn this a few years later. Such a casual throwaway comment, made thinking I was flip and clever and progressive, that hurt a dear friend.

I’m happy to see this exists. Maybe I can assuage my guilty conscience a bit by helping promote it. Though I am not asexual myself, I know a few people who do identify as such, and in all our talk about gender and sexuality around these parts, it’s only fitting that we avoid erasing an entire class of people.

From their 101 page:

What is an asexual person?

An asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Most individuals find there are certain people they are not sexually attracted to. For asexuals, this includes everybody!

Is asexual another word for celibate?

Unlike celibacy, which is a lifestyle choice, asexuality is a sexual orientation – just like homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality. Celibacy is a conscious decision not to have sex, regardless of sexual desire. Many asexuals do not consider themselves celibate, as they are giving up no more in abstaining from sex than a gay person is by abstaining from sex with someone of a different gender or a straight person is by abstaining from sex with the same gender. Furthermore, some asexual people do choose to have sex, and therefore are certainly not celibate.

It’s not about simply being celibate — asexual folks can choose to engage in sexual activities with people or with themselves, without necessarily having a sex drive of their own. They can be in romantic relationships. They can climax. They can do everything you can do. They can have an undirected sex drive. They can simply have no sex drive and if left to their own devices, would not seek it out. Or perhaps they even have boundaries that they define with their partners in advance. Or perhaps they have no desire to enter a romantic relationship at all. It’s every bit as varied as every other orientation.

We’d all do well to remember that when trying to be inclusive.

Elsewhere, another community handles similar events differently.

It’s no surprise the science blogging community, even the “mainstream media” parts of it like Scientific American, intersects heavily with the community of atheists and freethinkers that make up the skeptical and atheist communities. Not all the members of the science blogging community, though, have any inclination toward being part of the atheist/skeptical communities. In fact, a surprising number of people who are out as atheists couldn’t give half a damn about these secular online communities, what with our acrimony, our pockets of outright hatred and our various unevidenced delusions. A large number of them have given up on our communities over the very same fights that FtB features heavily in — fights in which vocal minorities claim that we, the people who try to hold others’ feet to fires for believing in and for saying and for doing objectively harmful and antisocial things to one another, are the ones who are truly evil, with their cries of “witch hunts” and “political correctness” and “fascism” and their cries that they’re defending “free speech”, as though they even knew what the term meant.

The result of this divergence in community makeup is palpable this past week.
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