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Stop! It might be the medics who end up fixing my website problems…

January 11, 2013

Staring at the bright light of 2013 which I can still see, 30 years after my retina started being wrecked by a glitch in my genetic programming, I am really and honestly wondering whether it’s going to be the medics who’ll restore a bit of eyesight and relieve me of the constant access glitches on the web, rather than the solution coming from within the web developer community.

Who knows how much worse it’d be if it wasn’t for the web access people out there, but when the really big guys who inspire others (sorry I’m talking again about the BBC here but there are others too) launches a new radio website sporting oddly unlabelled buttons, a media player with just Play/Pause and no STOP button or any way to reset or adjust the timeline, it just feels like equivalent access ain’t gonna happen.

I say this only because back in 2010 the Head of iPlayer went on Radio 4’s InTouch programme to acknowledge access problems with the (then) player and how committed they were to fixing it quickly…

I’m not intending to dis anyone here because I know how hard people work, but if important bits of web pages are launched as inaccessible to people like me, is it in fact the case that what’s behind these buttons is now so complicated and interrelated that even the quality of the BBC cannot make this stuff accessible?

If web technologies have now reached similar levels of complexity to human genetics, could it actually be gene therapy and a bit of restored eyesight that’ll get me access to the STOP button first?

For one tiny moment, I allow myself to think of how an equally tiny patch of restored vision would let me escape back to being a mouse user, And this thought feels like hearing seagulls on a warm inshore breeze, why does Web accessibility fill me with the sound of the train I can hear now,
screeching it’s way over curved rails,
Like in the godfather…


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  1. Stumbled onto this post from Twitter. It would be interesting to know what resources a web developer should be regularly consuming to keep up to date on a11y issues. I know that a11y is important, but my knowledge on how to implement it is likely badly out of data, and my ability to sell the service to a paying customer even worse.

    • Hi thanks for your comment. Need to say i’m a non-techy but have worked for many years on policy, so my ability to suggest where web developers are best going to keep their accessibility skills sharp is thin. what i know is, depending on the website and it’s function that you’re working on, it can be complex and the developers i personally know often work with networks of developers to pool knowledge and solve problems. To sell accessibility to a fee paying client is more a policy thing which i do know about: if the advice from the developer that “every website needs to be fully accessible to keep within the law” doesn’t wash with the client, then a strong alternative way of pitching the argument is to find a few of their customers who have a disability which means they need the site to be accessible, and the developer presents whether they think the company will keep their business or lose it.
      when accessibility is remote people are less likely to emotionally connect with it but when a company manager sees a direct human link, that is more powerful.

  2. I am working on making my companies social network and blog as visually impaired friendly as possible. Our social network is open source. We are rewriting the entire site and plan to have it completely accessible. Our current version isn’t accessible enough and that isn’t okay with me. One of our goals is to have the site be 100 percent visually impaired friendly.

    Thank you for such a great article pointing out how most people don’t think about accessibility.

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