Book Review: The Bootcamper’s Guide to Web Accessibility

I recently read The Bootcamper’s Guide to Web Accessibility by Lindsey Kopacz and wanted to share my thoughts. I’m going to start out by saying that I’m not a “Bootcamper”. With a degree in IT, I took a more traditional route into development. I’m pointing this out not because I’m about to start gatekeeping, but because I believe that this book has value no matter where you are in your career and how you got there.

Pros

Well-Organized

The information is presented in a way that makes it easy to process and digest and I think I’ll be more likely to retain the bulk of it because of that. The structure and flow makes sense and matches they way I approach web development. Most importantly, I can easily remember the “shape” of the book for when I need to refer back to it later.

Kopacz starts out by setting the rules and expectations for the book. After some necessary definitions, she starts with the HTML. From HTML, she weaves in the JavaScript. Kopacz then builds on the JavaScript by delving into progressive enhancement. Then it’s all tied together with a section on testing.

Thorough

I won’t suggest that Kopacz covers every aspect of accessibility, because that seems close to impossible. However, the opening chapter covers what the author calls “Diversity of Abilities” and makes it clear that there’s a lot more to accessibility than alt-text and video captions. I will admit that I had a pretty limited concept of how different peoples’ accessibility needs can be, so that was valuably eye-opening.

There are also many considerations across the layers of an application from how to lay out your HTML to how to store and load your user’s preferences.

Another example of the thoroughness is the way the book is full of references to standards and further reading. Additionally, Part 4 – Testing covers both automated and manual testing.

Code Examples

This book does not skimp on the code examples. It’s hard to learn technical concepts from a wall of text and Kopacz does an excellent job of breaking up the instruction with example snippets. Because of the PDF format of the book, she also includes Codepen links to the examples. Being able to manipulate the examples is even better than just seeing them.

Cons

Limits Itself with Title

It was a struggle to find anything to complain about here, so if this downside seems a bit contrived, it is. I do think this is an important point, however. I’m twenty years into my career as a full-stack developer and I learned a lot from this book. There’s always more to learn. I picked this book up because I follow the author on Twitter and am always interested in being better. I was not disappointed. I think Kopacz sells the book short by targeting it to boot campers.

Conclusion

As I mentioned, I learned a lot from this book and I expect to be referring to it as I work towards better accessibility. Do I recommend it? Yes. Anyone who ever works in the front-end can learn something from this book. Everyone should care about accessibility.

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