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Grant Broome has recently expressed some reservations over the suggestion that site developers abandon text-sizing widgits in favour of educating users instead. He’s worried that this approach is overly biased
Personally, I don’t see this discussion as particularly biased. More of a natural maturing within the web accessibility development sector. For years, we’ve been aware that effective accessibility involves three groups – site developers, user agent producers and the users.
Whilst we’ve happily moaned and complained about the middle group, there’s been a real reluctance to look at the user’s responsibility within the mix. As a result, the developers have often tried to “do everything” for the user. Laudable but not such a good idea longer term. However, I’d agree that just taking our ball back and announcing that we’re not playing any more isn’t going to help either.
Entitled “CAPTCHAs on Social Networking Sites Shut Out Blind Users“, the video presents a very compelling case against purely visual challenges. However, as the video has been published via YouTube, you will need access to the Flash Player plugin in order to watch it.
A few days ago, I was putting together some slides for a presentation to a group of businessmen on the benefits of accessible web design. Since I had no desire to bore my audience to death, I thought I’d do my usual trick of inserting a little humour via cartoons. However, the right cartoon is hard to find.
After much searching, I found the perfect cartoon and contacted the author to ask permission. One thing led to another and, to cut a long story short, Black Widow now has its very own cartoon thank to Dave Lupton
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been given the go-ahead to proceed with a class action against Target Corp. over the inaccessibility of their web site, target.com. The NFB initially approached Target in 2005 to try and resolve the site’s problems but, when discussions failed to reach a mutual agreement, filed a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A great deal of website development effort and time can sometimes be spent creating facilities that allow site visitors to carry out fairly mundane changes such as increasing the text size, printing pages or even just jumping back up to the top of a page.
The sad things is that many of these functions are already present in most standard web browsers. So developers are often needlessly replicating browser functionality within sites. and why do they do this? Because so many users don’t seem to know how to make best use of their own web browsers. Admittedly, the web browser developers haven’t helped by hiding some of the most useful options within sub-menus but, at the end of the day, it is arguably the responsibility of users to learn how to operate their own software.
Having created an excellent video demonstrating how JAWS work with web sites, Yahoo then seem to have shot themselves in the foot by simultaneously using a graphical CAPTCHA on their form for new account registrations. Unlike some of the more sympathetic CAPTCHAs, this one doesn’t even offer any form of audio support.
As a result, visually-impaired or blind users cannot create an account without asking a sighted person for help. Or alternatively, Yahoo suggest that you leave a phone number and wait to be contacted. Similar experiences with Gmail a while back suggest that you may end up waiting to be contacted for a week or 2 — which doesn’t exactly make for a fair, non-discriminatory approach. Since then, Google has been adding audio alternatives to its CAPTCHA enabled registration services.
Blind users are currently petitioning Yahoo to make an audio file available alongside their graphical CAPTCHA. I only hope Yahoo are listening and agree to add audio support to their registration form as soon as possible. Otherwise, there is a real risk that they could end looking more than a little hypocritical.