Molly E. Holzschlag: Advocate for the Open Web and Web Standards
Molly E. Holzschlag (January 25, 1963 – September 5, 2023) was a prominent American author, lecturer, and staunch advocate for the Open Web. She left a lasting imprint on the tech industry, particularly in the realms of web design, open standards, and accessibility. Recognized as the “Fairy Godmother of the Web,” Holzschlag authored and co-authored a remarkable 35 books on web design and open standards.
Holzschlag’s notable contributions extended to campaign work for web standards. She spearheaded the first five years of Open Web Camp, a significant free event hosted in Silicon Valley from 2009 to 2013. Throughout her career, her efforts were dedicated to advancing Open Web technologies, advocating for web design, and promoting accessibility. One of her significant roles was as the 2004–2006 group lead for the Web Standards Project (WaSP), where she rallied browser makers like Microsoft, Opera, and Netscape to support modern web standards. She was recognized for her fearlessness in addressing issues with Internet Explorer, challenging even Bill Gates face-to-face.
Within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Holzschlag served as an invited expert on the CSS Working Group, chaired the CSS Accessibility Community Group, and contributed her expertise to the HTML and GEO working groups. She consistently advocated for standards that would make the web a more inclusive and efficient space.
Holzschlag’s dedication to education was evident in her work. In 2011, she joined Knowbility to teach classes on Open Web technologies such as HTML5 and ARIA, with a strong emphasis on inclusive design to overcome accessibility barriers. Additionally, she taught webmaster courses at esteemed institutions like the University of Arizona, University of Georgia, University of Phoenix, New School University, and Pima Community College.
In her writing career, Holzschlag made a significant impact, authoring and co-authoring 35 books, including the influential work, The Zen of CSS Design: Visual Enlightenment for the Web, co-authored with Dave Shea. Beyond tech, she also reported on music for the Tucson Weekly during the 1990s.
On a personal note, Molly E. Holzschlag faced health challenges when diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2014. She courageously spoke about healthcare funding issues and garnered support through a GoFundMe campaign to fund her chemotherapy.
Tragically, Molly E. Holzschlag passed away on September 5, 2023, at the age of 60, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of web technology and accessibility advocacy. Her tireless efforts and passion for an open, accessible web continue to inspire and shape the digital landscape.