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Do you see what i see.
August 10, 2000 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Do you see what i see. Anyone work on web projects funded by the Department of Education, or any other organization which is now requiring websites be Bobby Approved?
posted by milhous (11 comments total)

 
Not yet... but that "Bobby" graphic is offensive to sighted people. Yeouch.
posted by mimi at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2000


Well, I'm not responsible for our website, but I am responsible for a couple of pieces of it and yes, we at Southwest Missouri State University are required to make our website Bobby compliant. Not such a bad task for the few hundred centrally-maintained pages, but for the other 200,000 pages, some of which haven't been updated since 1994, it's going to be a pain. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about it.
posted by daveadams at 2:21 PM on August 10, 2000


I've long believed that it's only a matter of time before some group, somewhere, files a lawsuit to require US-based web sites, or at least truly commercial ones, to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. And they'll probably win. If your site is Lynx-hostile, you're gonna be in trouble.
posted by aaron at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2000


Jakob Nielsen's got a super hero
posted by matucana at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2000


Aaron....if a lawsuit like that is filed, that would probably mean that a hell of a lot of user interfaces would come under scrutiny.....I hope it doesn't happen. In a commerical environment, it's just not worth the cash for companies to spend time working on a site, or adding features to a site that would be availed of by a small amount of people.

Just my opinion...
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:21 PM on August 10, 2000


For some reason, that is the most ominous thing I've seen in quite a while. Maybe it's the cartoon cop icon. Man, the gubment sure is creepy sometimes.
posted by Optamystic at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2000


Tom, Tom, Tom. And everyone else, too. Bobby is not the only arbiter of accessibility, which always requires human interpretation; it is merely a validation tool, like W3C validators. Further, Bobby is being updated as we speak, and mere HTML tags will be the least of the issues it considers.

In the meantime, user interfaces won't be harmed at all by accessibility, and it is a baldfaced like to claim that "cash" is required to achieve accessibility. (Lying by repeated assertion, Tom?) Adding ALT, TITLE, LONGDESC, COLGROUP, ACCESSKEY, and what few other access-related tags there are requires seconds of effort and is quite readily automated in programs like Homesite.

How much time did you spend on a single Flash animation this week?

How long will it take you to write ALT="Barbelith logo" TITLE="[Barbelith logo]" inside your IMG tag? I just timed it: 4.5 seconds. How long will it take you to copy and paste or drag and drop those tags into future pages? Next to no time at all. If you save it as a template, literally no time at all.

Moreover, advanced multimedia sites with beautiful 4.0-specific navigation and design can meet minimum accessibility standards quite easily. Look at anything Zeldman creates, including Jazzradio.

Designers always, without exception, dismiss accessibility issues as benefitting "small numbers of people." I'd suggest you do your research before repeatedly asserting that.

And BTW, when did it become cool to knowingly exclude certain visitors due to a characteritsic they cannot control? If you could deliberatedly or inadvertently create a page that excluded Jews, Canadian women, or high-school students, would you?

Disability is the litmus test for liberal values. Sure, liberals  and that's most Web folk; they're at least libertarian if not fervently leftist  are actively anti-racist and pro-feminist. It's built into the DNA by now. But disability is scary and offputting, and qualitatively different from gender and race. We see a great irrationality in dealing with the issue, particularly in accessibility, which really is easy.

However, W3C and other accessibility guidelines are absolutely abysmal. They tell you what to do, but never why or (crucially) how. I hope to remedy that with a book whose proposal I am putting off writing, plus an accessibility revamp of a few very-design-heavy, high-profile sites you would all recognize to prove once and for all that accessibility features cause no impairment whatsoever in graphic design, interface, or usabiilty. (Notable exception: Flash, and even there it isn't hard to include accessibilty; there just aren't any decent guidelines out there.)
posted by joeclark at 5:42 PM on August 10, 2000


[aaron] If your site is Lynx-hostile, you're gonna be in trouble.

Sometimes it goes beyond Lynx. There are a couple of sites here at SMSU (one is our web-based mail client) with forms and weird server-side redirection that gives all the visually-impaired-assistive and speech browsers fits.

[joeclark] How long will it take you to write ALT="Barbelith logo" TITLE="[Barbelith logo]" inside your IMG tag? I just timed it: 4.5 seconds. How long will it take you to copy and paste or drag and drop those tags into future pages? Next to no time at all.

Well, Joe, you're making a lot of assumptions about how people build sites. Such tweaking is actually harder when you use tools like Frontpage (which is, unfortunately, the campus standard around here).

And although changing one img tag may only take you five seconds, the problem comes in when you have a website that has been developed incrementally over the past six years to a culmination of hundreds of thousands of pages of HTML, built by literally hundreds of different authors, many of whom aren't around anymore. And your full time web staff is only one person? HA! You're in trouble. :)

PS - Please not I'm not that one person, thankfully.
posted by daveadams at 7:02 AM on August 11, 2000


Well, Joe, you're making a lot of assumptions about how people build sites. Such tweaking is actually harder when you use tools like Frontpage (which is, unfortunately, the campus standard around here)
Indeed. In those cases, there's bugger-all you can do save for manually inserting access tags after the fact. If your organization standardizes on an authoring tool that's access-unfriendly, (a) get them to change (entrenched inaccessibility will eventually get public Web sites in trouble), (b) post a message to that effect on your Web site and offer to manually alter pages on request.

Updating old pages? Don't. Even I don't do that. However, if I touch an old page for any reason, I fix all accessibility lacunæ. And if people write in with complaints, I fix.

So the best approach in this case  the experience with wheelchair accessibility is instructive here  is to tell people what's not accessible and why, and to provide workarounds on request. It is not a good idea to hold a public function in a wheelchair-inaccessible building, but if you have absolutely no choice, it is far better to warn people up front, because it shows you are aware of the issues even if you have no control over fixing them.

I would note, however, that failing to add ALT tags in the year 2000 is ridiculous bordering on criminal. This isn't a weirdo tag like COLGROUP.
posted by joeclark at 8:05 AM on August 11, 2000


"...and it is a baldfaced like to claim that "cash" is required to achieve accessibility."You're right -- "cash" generally isn't required. Rather, a paycheck is.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:38 PM on August 12, 2000


Sure, liberals -- and
that's most Web folk; they're at least libertarian if not fervently
leftist -- are actively anti-racist and pro-feminist.


Hmmm... Joe? Weren't you just, *in that post*, taking others to task for making assumptions about large groups of other people? :-)

PS: there is currently no reasonable way to specify an em-dash in HTML.
posted by baylink at 8:27 AM on August 14, 2000


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