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@Media goes global

atmedia2007button.gifExciting developments! Patrick is going to be a very busy (and jet-lagged boy) by the time he’s finished @Media 2007 - it’s going global. The teaser’s online already. I’ve already offered my services as a person who can (genuinely) say all the following in Cantonese:

  • most of the colours and shades of colours (dunno about hex colours)
  • “I’m very full/I’m very fat”
  • “Do you want a beer”
  • “Good morning/afternoon, how are you etc”
  • “Don’t wee inside the house or you’ll get a smack!”

I’m sure you’ll agree that with such a wide vocabulary I should really be flown out there to help with the event ;-) Well, I can but hope!

Comments (3) Posted by Ian on Friday, September 22, 2006

Screen Reader testing for free?

An email recieved by the WaSP Accessibility Task Force:

I am an Intermediate skilled Website Developer who is seeking out information on doing what I can to make my websites as completely accessible as possible.

I’ve begun searching and reading articles regarding this. The thought occurred to me that it would be great to have these different “reader” software so that I could test my websites once they were reasonably finished. Then I realized the software I wanted is probably quite expensive.

So another thought occurred. What if there are disabled active volunteers who would be willing to review your website with their software? Obviously, it would be a request after one is confident that they have done everything they could rather than while the website is being built.

So I’m hoping this has already been thought of. I would appreciate any response regarding this idea and how practical or valid it would be.

I have to say that, personally, I do not know of anyone who is willing to do this for free and I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable thing to expect, to be honest (given that the software is expensive to buy and it must be more difficult for a blind person to seek gainful employment than a sighted web developer). I don’t mean for this to come across in a harsh way - it’s admirable that the sender wanted to check that the sites are accessible beyond running the pages through an automated validator.

I know that there is the Usability Exchange, which puts developers/companies in touch with disabled end users for this kind of thing, but it’s not a cheap service. So, is there something in between? Or do you know someone who’d be willing to run a few tests as requested in this email? Add comments and I’ll pass ‘em on.

Filed under: Accessibility
Comments (8) Posted by Ian on Thursday, September 14, 2006

Target Hit - But is it a Bullseye?

In the accessibility world, a lot of us bemoan that fact that despite the various different pieces of legislation and the guidelines around web accessibility, there are very few examples of any company or organisation ever really being screwed for not complying. Sure, there was the Sydney Olympics case and there was the … uh. Um, nice weather we’re having, isn’t it? Anyway, the point being that we as an ‘industry’ (if that is the right term) have been saying for years that if you mess up on accessibility you could be sued, but the longer it didn’t happen, the more people thought it was a case of ‘cry wolf’.

I certainly don’t want companies to be unfairly vicitimised or for individuals in these companies to be picked out for criticism just to prove a point, but likewise the legislation is there for a reason. One company has just found that, in the US at least, the legislation may yet have an affect - in California, the case has entered a new stage. In this case, the plaintiff is ‘all blind Americans’ - it’s a class action with Bruce Sexton, a college student, the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) and NFB California as named plaintiffs - and the case has resurfaced because Target’s request for the case to be thrown out has been rejected.

The NFB’s press release suggests a victory for the plaintiffs, but it’s not a clear victory:

Explaining the ramification of the ruling, Mazen M. Basrawi, Equal Justice Works Fellow at Disability Rights Advocates, noted that: “the court clarified that the law requires that any place of public accommodation is required to ensure that it does not discriminate when it uses the internet as a means to enhance the services it offers at a physical location.”

It doesn’t say “the ADA must include web sites” but rather (paraphrasing here) “it should not exclude outlets other than the physical premises”. This is a bit more woolly than the press release might have you believe.
So, the case is not over yet. Target may not have had it thrown out, but they have not yet lost the battle overall. Regardless, there’s a lesson for any US web site owners who may have uttered statements like “Ah, they’re just full of hot air - no-one’s ever actually been sued for this” in the past. I imagine that the big retailers’ legal departments are, right now, preparing some fairly detailed question sheets for their web teams to find out just how vulnerable they are.

Comments (2) Posted by Ian on Monday, September 11, 2006