Archive for September, 2006

Purple island

This guy is shipwrecked, and washes up on purple sand, surrounded by purple palm trees, in a purple lagoon.

“Oh bugger”, he says to himself. “I’ve been marooned”.

DTI: ‘Our blind guy can use it so it’s fine’

I got a letter from my MP about the questions I asked about the DTI website:

The project to launch a consistantly branded, usable website and implement a Content management System took place over a three year period. The requirement for the new website to comply with Level AA of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines did appear in the original Invitation to Tender. It is regrettable that at the end of a long and complex phase of delivery of the project, this element was lost.

The Department does recognise the importance of ensuring our web content is accessible to all. We acknowledge that there are some accessibility issues with the new website. An accessibility audit of the site has been commisioned, to identify where the site fails to comply with relevant standards. The recommendations will be used to ensure, subject to cost and available resources, the site meets Level A of the W3C’s WCAG as laid down in the guidlines for UK Government Websites as soon as practicable and Level AA in the longer term.

Despite the acknowledged accessibilty issues, we can confirm the new website is being used on a daily basis by a member of the DTI staff who uses the Supernova speech and magnification system (V6.5). This assistive technology does allow users with visual impairments to navigate the website and access the content of the pages. This demonstrates the new DTI website does not ‘lock-out’ all users with disabilities.

Continue reading DTI: ‘Our blind guy can use it so it’s fine’

Veg up the arse joke #2

BlokeDoctor, I’ve got this terrible pain in my arseDoctorDrop your trousers and bend over. Hmm, it looks like you’ve got a lettuce leaf protruding from your sphincter. I’ll pull it out. And there’s another. And another.BlokeARGHGHGHGH! The pain is excrutiating! Is there much more?DoctorI’m sorry to tell you, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thailand coup: bye bye Thaksin

It appears that there’s been a (so-far) bloodless coup against the Prime Minister of Thailand. (Bangkok-based independent news site.) While it’s a shame that it’s happened, it’s an over-reaction to mourn the death of democracy in Thailand.

Thailand was never really democratic. When I lived there (1996 -2000), elections were rigged; bribery and intimidation commonplace. “Influential figures” (whose names everyone knew) were totally above the law, controlling the drugs trade, illegal teak logging and trade with Burma. The millitary controlled the state-run TV, censorship was common and government corruption and patronage not just ignored, but regarded as legitimate behaviour.

It is also no loss to Thailand that Thaksin Shinawatra has been removed as Prime Minister. He approved a campaign of extra-judicial murder of 2,500 alleged drug dealers. His stupidly crass comments when 78 Southern Thai muslims died in police custody of asphyixiation (“they were weakened because of Ramadam fasting”) fuelled disquiet in the muslim southern states. He attempted to intimidate the press, expelling journalists from The Economist, and earned the rebuke of the much-revered King for elevating himself too high. He was becoming more and more authoritarian, and dangerous.

It is to be hoped that democracy will be restored (instituted?) soon. But I can’t help feeling that it’s good that Thaksin has gone.

Any Thais or Thai-residents around to comment?

Intranet accessibility conference

I spoke on “Intranet accessibility” at a conference for lots of nice managerial people in suits yesterday (and only swore once!). The main points I made were

  • Accessibility is not text-only or a separate “cripples-only” site
  • Disability is more than blindness
  • Accessibility is not an exercise in political correctness; there are demonstrable, measurable advantages in usability for all
  • Accessibility isn’t a purely technical matter; it’s to do with content as well (and is thus also the reponsibility of the non-techy people in the organisation who produce content).
  • Use PAS 78

Bread and butter stuff for regular readers, so I’m not publishing the presentation, but the questions I was asked may be of interest.

Continue reading Intranet accessibility conference

News: Judge refuses to limit ADA to physical premises

Bruce Sexton and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) tried to persuade Target.com (which is “powered by amazon.com”) to make its website accessible (you couldn’t navigate it with a keyboard, and missing alt text meant shopping was impossible).

Target refused, so Sexton sued. Target asked the judge to throw it out, on the grounds that there were no laws requiring websites to be accessible.

The NFB reports,

The court held: “the ‘ordinary meaning’ of the ADA’s prohibition against discrimination in the enjoyment of goods, services, facilities or privileges, is that whatever goods or services the place provides, it cannot discriminate on the basis of disability in providing enjoyment of those goods and services.” The court thus rejected Target’s argument that only its physical store locations were covered by the civil rights laws, ruling instead that all services provided by Target, including its Web site, must be accessible to persons with disabilities.

“I hope that I can soon shop online at Target.com just like anyone else,” said UC Berkeley student BJ Sexton, who is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. “I believe that millions of blind people like me can use the Internet just as easily as do the sighted, if websites are accessible.”

I imagine that a lot of big U.S. retailers will be examining their websites tomorrow …

Related: Outlaw has a proper legal analysis. ‘Cos they’re lawyers. WebAIM write it up.

Guy at the zoo

This guy goes to the zoo. There were no elephants there. There were no giraffes. There were no lions. There were no monkeys.

The only animal in the whole place was a stupid little hairy dog.

It was a shitzu.

Welcome to Accessibility Club

The fourth rule of Accessibility Club is: Accessibility Club is not Fight Club. Now, there are people in this world who don’t honestly care about accessibility, and yelling at them isn’t going to change their minds. Those people just need to be kicked in the balls.

But there are people in this world who do care about accessibility, even if they’re not always able to do everything you, personally, would like them to do. Yelling at them isn’t going to make them start doing the things you want them to do, and runs a real risk of alienating them entirely. People who are making good faith efforts but suffering under real-world constraints are not your enemies.

Amen to that! Read the rest – it’s good stuff. (Hat tip: Jim O’Donnell)

Shock ‘socialist leanings’ allegation

Chris Beasley (passim) accuses me of having “socialist leanings“. Oooh harsh. Oh wait! I do have socialist leanings! I confessed it on my ‘About’ page three years ago.

The reason for this accusation is that I believe that people with disabilities should be able to participate on-line. And if a company won’t make accommodation and code its website accordingly, then it’s OK for that company to be sued.

Mr Beasley disagrees, as the handicapped are not normal, and it costs ten times as much “to send one disabled kid to a normal highschool than we spend on the smartest kid in that highschool.”

Mr Beasley notes that I have MS and am therefore the type who “sees enemies where there are none”. (Everyone with MS is paranoid. We’re not normal, you see.)

Patrick Lauke has already tried to comment on Mr Beasley’s blog, but the comment was deleted and Patrick’s IP was banned, which rather leads me to wonder exactly who is “so used to fighting and defending that he sees enemies where there are none”.

Censoring people is also odd for someone who declares himself a “libertarian”. But then that’s the battle-cry of the terminally right-wing: “Free speech and equal rights, for all those who look like me and think like me!”