"Scarborough woman wins accessibility challenge against Federal government" from InsideToronto.com
I found the article-writer's description of web sites with screen readers to be a little hilarious and confuzling at the same time.
Accessible websites obey simple authoring rules and include hidden tags that label information so that it can be properly organized by the screen readers, which blind web surfers use to convert text to new formats such as audible speech. Without these basic markers, screen readers garble the information on pages and forms, making them impossible to use.
Haha. More like: "When web pages are horribly written in WYSIWYGs with no thought to logical order and graceful degradation, screen readers and most other user agents find the information on pages and forms to already be garbled, making them difficult or impossible to use."
Still, good for her. I hate the idea that people have to sue everything just to get their basic rights upheld, but, that's the way we've made things. I'm surprised there's nothing similar to section 508 (or better) over in Canada.
I think they were referring to semantic markup as the "hidden tags" since most people don't see the source code. I'd agree it was a weird way of explaining GIGO web markup though.
I think Canada uses: http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/clf2-nsi2/index-eng.asp basically AA for government sites.
Although for some 'weird reason' they claim to be using HTML5! Which is non-normative and thus fails the WCAG criteria.
Somewhat off topic, but I had to stop and think what 'a11y' could possibly be.... throw that in the same category as 'i18n' and 'l10n', some of my most hated words -_-
But, its purpose is to make the title short... so I used it.
In the thread post itself, I had room to spell it out.
Is it bad for me to be happy that they got sued by her? I'm happy when I hear about companies being sued by people who aren't able to use their Website because it was built inaccessibly by people who obviously can't build professional and accessible Websites. It's their own ignorant fault.
One day companies will learn to not go for the cheapest or nicest sounding Web design / development agency and will actually learn that when they want to do something, they should do it right the first time. This is what I don't understand about companies, they do loads of things wrong, and they must be aware of it, but they don't do anything about it because it costs them. Then when they are found out and there is a public outrage or something crazy they will then do something about it (just the same as politics really!). It shouldn't take that for them to get their asses in gear and do it properly, the way it should always be done.
I guess what also sucks is people who can't write accessibly (it's just not that hard) get paid a lot of money to build web sites : (
In the comments of stories like this, you always get a bunch of people saying "well you can't possibly build for everyone and all this does is make web sites cost more" and you have other people who are like "dude, it's not any extra code to make it basically accessible to a majority of disabled/low-tech visitors, how can it suddenly cost more?"
I would love to see more seminars/workshops/courses that show web developers how easy it can be to make sites basically accessible. Like, instead of "How To Spam FaceBook With Your Craptastic Ads" we could have "How To Build Web Sites Accessible The Easy Way".
I will admit that taking a poorly-written and working site and making it accessible is not easy and can cost a bunch of money... it's the process of building (or re-building) where it's "easy" and "cheap" to have accessibility (built-in is easier than bolt-on usually).
Yeah, I see that one all the blasted time -- repeatedly you have people sleazing out convoluted train wrecks of transitional (or HTML5, the NEW HTML 3.2) with code to content ratio's of 10:1 or worse, running their mouths about how "strict is too much work" or "it's too hard to do accessibility"
When semantic code with a logical document structure and heading order with separation of presentation from content is a fraction the markup, simpler and in fact LESS work.
I've said it a dozen times -- if you write it properly in the first place it is not more work, and in fact it takes LESS time than all the sleazeball shortcuts you see people taking.
It's also why a lot of times trying to throw silver bullet fixes at problems is more work than saying to blazes with this, and starting over. SO many websites it's easier/simpler/faster to start over from scratch than it is to sleaze them along as is -- especially when it comes to accessibility, cross browser issues, and the ridiculous hosting costs of many of the disasters so called "professionals" vomit up and call a website.
If the twitters are an indication rather than just Mike Paciello harping on a subject, many many college and university web sites are considered inaccessible. The students are left out of electronic groups and social events and course supplements.
I was starting to seriously think of Sitepoint (or maybe just some developers) offering to do some big university's site as a charity thing and then show all the other schools how it was done and how it didn't have to cost them an arm and a leg.
Like a hall of Shame, Poes?
In many countries it is legal requirement that government funded bodies like universities have accessible websites.
Most universities have more than enough budget set aside to create an 'accessible website'. So the bad ones must be spending the 'extra budget' on helping to create 'inaccessible websites'.
Are we using the same definition for the word "universities"? Maybe it's because I've worked for non-profits... but BUDGET?!? for a WEBSITE??!? BWAHAAHAAHAAA oh man, you slay me.
In my experience if a college has a website it's because the students who are still learning how to do things are the ones maintaining it... that or they've not updated their codebase in a decade or so.
It's certainly NOT the IT staff maintaining it -- they've usually got their hands full trying to keep up with student requests and keeping the college LAN/WAN up and running...
It's sure as shine not the educators handling it, though maybe it is... But to put that in perspective I'm used to thinking of colleges where their idea of teaching students how to make websites involves making them slaves worshipping at the throne of Adobe, vomiting up websites using every sleazeball WYSIWYG on the planet; Case in point up until last year the introductory course at the local State college here taught people how to use FRONTPAGE!
College websites are as a rule some of the worst on the planet - I've NEVER seen one that was worth a damn in terms of code, efficiency, design, OR accessibility.
Case in point, let's pull up "Keene State College" -- aka Kegger U which is just a quarter mile down the road from me.
Before even opening it up we have fixed metric fonts, fixed width layout, images for text, menus that are broken when scripting is disabled, color contrasts below accessibility minimums, shall I go on?
Peek under the hood, and HOLY MOTHER OF... Look Ma, FRAMESETS!!! What is this, 1997?
Of course you pop it open and... what the, there's only one ACTUAL content frame -- so what the devil is it USING framesets for?!? Answer? They're using FRAMES to center the content... WOW, that's dumbest thing I've ever seen.
Oh, but it gets better, open up the actual page begin served:
and we have a comment before the doctype so IE is in quirks mode, uppercase tags indicating it's just HTML 3.2 with a modern doctype slapped on it. Tables for layout, presentational images in the markup, presentational markup (probably why it has the tranny doctype), spacer .gif's, classes on meaningless tags instead of heading tags, non-breaking spaces for nothing, invalid forms that do not meet up to accessibility requirements (apparently never heard of FIELDSET, LEGEND and LABEL), imagemaps, and a dozen other decade plus out of date idiocy mixed with total ineptitude.
But that is Kegger-U... let's try someplace that really SHOULD be up to norms -- MIT.
Before opening it up -- fixed height layout, fixed width layout,fixed metric fonts, colors that don't meet accessibility norms due to an annoying transparency... Hmm, sounds familiar.
Tranny doctype -- so automatically decade out of date coding techniques. Header div for nothing, DIV for what should be SMALL inside the h1, form that lacks proper form elements, DIV around the form for nothing, DIV around the menus for nothing, classes on every LI for no good reason, heading tags on non-heading elements, vertical-break characters doing border's job, comment placement that explains why the content doesn't even show up in IE6, paragraphs around non-paragraph elements,
So the code is bloated trash... but more importantly even MIT is a miserable /FAIL/ at accessibility.
In fact, google "technical school" and open up the entire first PAGE of sites. They are ALL built with a "WCAG, what's that?" attitude.
... and people wonder why I think a college degree in IT is worth less than a sheet of bog roll. You'd think we were talking about a field where 3 years is obsolete and five years is the scrap heap -- in which case what the devil good is a four year program?
Much less I've never actually met a career educator who was actually qualified to actually be teaching others ANY computer related subject... and School websites are a surefire indicator of that. Most of them couldn't code their way out of a piss soaked paper bag with a hole in the bottom.
All that freedom in the US goes two ways!
Freedom to do what you want also means freedom to call your intellectual whorehouse a university!
Blind woman's website victory to be appealed
They do keep on about phones, though anyone who's ever called a government center knows how well that works. And while you're waiting, you get a recorded voice telling you "you can also visit our website at..." way to rub it in.
All because you hired monkeys instead of developers. Arg.