Building Accessible Websites rocks.

okay, with a little more detail: I can’t say that I wasn’t eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book. I ordered it on December 11, 2001, according to amazon, and it shipped on October 20, 2002. I’ve been reading Clark’s (Joe’s?) stuff for a little while now…probably about six-eight months before ordering the book, and I’ve always enjoyed the clarity and wit of his writing.

I even got interested in the admittedly arcane field of captioning just because of his lively writing. (now our TV is set for captioning while muted, so I can either watch commercials be horribly mangled, or enjoy my shows while C. plays excruciatingly loud spanky-death-games.)

I followed the progress of the writing of the book on Joe’s bookblog, and then followed the progress of my own copy via UPS tracking. I picked it up on a Friday, and read it partially on the way home, the rest over the weekend.

the verdict: an excellent book. everything that I’d expected or hoped for in the tone – a little bit tongue in cheek, a little curmudgeonly, and all Joe Clark. the longest colophon I’ve ever fucking seen, and entirely enjoyable for all that. dry humor that speaks to the assumed audience in wonderfully knowing tones – I kept wanting to read passages aloud to C., to the point where he had to tell me to just keep reading, since he didn’t know what the hell i was talking about.

to be fair, I must admit that there were a few typos (an entirely missing graphic that I’m sure would’ve been illuminating among them), and that I found the two photos of adaptive devices a little dark. I found the Braille machine utterly baffling, but I don’t think any amount of explanation would’ve helped.

but even in a heavily covered field, this would be a standout book for its approach – practical to the point of cynicism, detailed w/out being overwhelming, and as previously mentioned, entertaining to read. much in the book was familiar to me, as I’ve been soaking myself in accessibility issues over the past year, but there were a few a-ha! moments, notably in those places where theory and principle slam headlong into reality. and he covers the topic that I’ve personally found most overwhelming – HTML data tables, I had to do several rather large & complex ones before I really understood what I was doing – as clearly as I think is humanly possible. (I think I even understood a point or two that was still unclear before.)

in a field that is almost empty, Building Accessible Websites is a necessity for anyone writing/programming/designing/whatever-they-call-it-this-month for the Web. you will learn something, or unlearn something, or have something to think about.