Ignorance and inspiration
The topic of accessibility on the Web is, for any professional developer, an important topic. While there are differing degrees of knowledge and experience when it comes to Web accessibility, I was under the impression that it is generally acknowledged as being a good thing.
Then the Target lawsuit came along. The overwhelming response was from ignorant, ill-informed people was that this was a frivolous lawsuit—an example of political correctness gone mad. What really depressed me was reading those opinions in the Sitepoint forum, the kind of place where you would expect Web professionals to congregate. Ignorance and greed were the order of the day:
If they where blind then why would they be on the computer?
I highly doubt that a blind person would ever try to purchase something from the internet WITHOUT the help of another human being.
How is an ATL-text going to be usfull so someone that cant see it? [sic]
Depressing stuff. Now that the Target case is going ahead as a class-action lawsuit, it’s back on the radar. Techcrunch picked up the story and has spawned some unbelievably FUD-laden comments:
Thats just stupid…whats next Driver licenses for the blind?
This is just another example of the needs of the one — no matter how ridiculous those so-called needs — will become a burden for the many.
How Selfish. Instead of re inventing the wheel, all they have to do is ask a friend or family member to help them.
Oh, and something which I would like to know, since a few people mentioned eCommerce — How does a blind person read their account number on a credit card?
As well as confirming my suspicions about the kind of pond scum who choose to frequent TechCrunch, those comments made me depressed all over again.
But wait… Roger rides to the rescue with videos of people using assistive technology—a timely reminder of just how empowering technology can be.
There’s a series of videos on the AssistWare site. They’re all worth checking out if, like me, you want to dispel TechCrunch’s whingers and moaners and listen instead to the inspiring stories of people getting on with it:
- One Thumb to Rule Them All showcases the l33t skillz of Mike Phillips, a freelance technology journalist.
- We Can Because We Think We Can describes the workflow of Graphic Artist, Leigh-Anne Tompkins.
These stories remind me of the transformative power of technology. They also serve up a nice big dollop of perspective. Frankly, keeping websites accessible is one of the easiest ways to help improve the world a little bit every day. If that’s asking too much of the SitePointers and TechCrunchers, then they really have no good reason to build websites in the first place.