In Memory of Molly E. Holzschlag, the Fairy Godmother of the Web

Trigger warning: Death

The accessibility and disability community lost another giant. I lost a dear friend. Molly Holzschlag (1963 – 2023)

Molly was a U.S. author, lecturer, and advocate of the Web as a tool of human potential. She had a background in linguistics, communications, mass media, social justice, human cognition, behavior, and sociology. Molly wrote or co-authored more than 30 books on web design and open standards.

I’ve had the great fortune to have met Molly along with Alan K’necht in person around 2002. She gave me one of my first professional writing gigs before that. It was an interview about the Web Standards Project aka WaSP with the brilliant Jeffrey Zeldman and Steven Champeon. Eventually, I joined Molly, Jeffrey, and Steven on WaSP where I felt like a kid playing in the adult playground.

Known as the Fairy Godmother of the Web, Molly was an engaging and funny writer and human being. She always aimed to disrupt the status quo. She also trusted me to be the tech editor of several of her books, such as “Teach Yourself Blogging in 24 Hours.” She will always have a special place in my heart.

I’m grateful I saw her at Knowbility AccessU in 2022 where she was the keynote. Twenty years after the first time I met her in person was the last time I saw her in person. She gave a captivating keynote where the takeaway was “Accessibility first!” Here’s a great article about Molly on Knowbility’s website.

Molly lived fully and accomplished more than most people have in their lifetimes. Here’s Molly’s obituary thanks to Matt May. Here’s my interview with Molly from 2002.

May her memory always be for a blessing. May her wise words stick with us for years to come. May her advice to apply good design practices always be followed. May her shouts “Accessibility first” become a refrain for many.

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