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Topic: Please allow me a little rant?

  1. #1

    Please allow me a little rant?

    I was going to post this little rant along with an earlier post I made, but as I wrote this I felt as if it deserves its own little place on the forum.

    I know that this is certainly not the place to talk about web design, but I also know that many of you are involved in some way or another in the building of websites, if not commercially for profit, for yourself or friends.

    May I interject this little (well, maybe not so little) plea?

    All of you who develop websites (and you know who you are ) will you do your best to see that these sites are as accessible as possible. Yes, it takes a little longer, but we have millions of Boomers who are computer users now, and many of us (although I’m considered a little older than a boomer) are loosing various parts of what it means to be young and healthy. You can do just a few things that will make getting around on the web for some of us a hell of a lot easier. Here are just a few:

    Check to see if your site complies with accessibility at least the lowest of the three levels of standards.

    Take a few moments to tag your images. God it's frustrating to mouse over a website and all you hear from your screen reader is "image, image, image, image, image." They don’t have to say much, but at least give us a clue.

    Please avoid the Flash hype? A Flash is certainly one of the most exciting improvements in web design that has ever happened. However it leaves many of us totally clueless. A perfect example of how flash can be used to it’s best, is in Gary's new online Orchestration course. But especially if your site is aimed at the general population, and not just some other Flash enthusiast, remember that the general population includes those of us with all kinds of issues. The most frustrating thing I have come across is to a site that I'm really interested in, only to have this ridiculous Flash intro, that may look cool to a fully sighted person, just be nonexistent to the rest of us. Often, your screen reader cant even read the buttons, so we don't know how to get to the content. And for heaven’s sake don't use flash for your content.

    Remember Building your site for all in an easy to navigate and accessible design is not only the moral thing to do, but it is also illegal not too. I have heard that Target is being sued by the American Foundation for the Blind for not making their site accessible. We who have low vision like to buy stuff too.

    OK my rant is over. Thanks for baring with me.


  2. #2

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?


    An excellent point. I know as a developer that this is an issue that hasn't even been on my radar. If you have the time and inclination to fool with it, I'd be grateful if you could visit the sites I have up and let me know of any areas where they fall short on accessibility. You can shoot me an email & we can correspond offline so as not to clutter up things here.

    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

  3. #3

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    I don't have issues reading (yet), but I'm with you 100%!

    I spent a number of years doing internal and external web work for the National Science Foundation, where accessibility is mandantory, so I'm pretty much in the habit of bridging at least some of the gap in my other web work. Alt-tags for every image is pretty much a given.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    No harm in a little rant, Karl! This is actually a good reminder for web developers.

    I am actually developing a Flash site right now. Of course, purposeless intros can be annoying, but I believe Flash can be a great tool for organizing and presenting web content. However, just about all its benefits for a site are only visual. I never thought about any accessibility issues a Flash site might have with screen-reader programs, but I just did a bit of research and it turns out that the latest versions of Flash (from Flash MX and onward) do feature screen-reader support (though unfortunately it seems it only works with Windows). Flash developers have to enable the feature and enter the necessary information manually, so I am sure most web developers do not utilize or even consider this feature, but it is certainly possible for the issue to be eliminated nowadays.
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #5

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    Here is a site of a designer that is wonderfully well done. You will find a lot of info on accessibility here, and his site is a perfect example.


    I hope this can be a starting point for many of you.


  6. #6

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    Duly noted Karl. As part of my job I design websites and I had given little thought to the accessibility that you have brought to my attention. We share a similar problem and it is only sensible on my part to accommodate these issues.

    Thinking about it, it would be nice to be able to access in the future the more visual side of my creativity should I wish to do so, but more importantly the issues you have raised bring to bear an important point that has been bugging me for years, IMHO a website should be as informative as a well written book and in some ways read the same way. Flashy graphics (pun intended), and 'cool' colour schemes easily contribute to the visually appealing, but ultimately empty content of many sites I have come across - high signal to noise ratio - I heard someone say once.

    I will endeavour in the future to design my sites in a way that works for everybody. Perhaps someone knows of a set of standards or guidelines which exist that would help developers to design sites to accommodate the visually impaired, colour blind or dyslexic.

  7. #7

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    I agree with you, Karl. Bit by bit, I've been going over
    all of our sites to improve in this area -- a gargantuan
    task, though, given thousands of pages.

    Also of note:

    I initially built this to help my own aging eyes -- but I
    have gotten numerous letters from people with low or
    aging vision, thanking me for it.

    This is a zooming utility you can leave handily ready in
    your system tray.

    It's free, of course:

    ZOOM 1.0




  8. #8

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    I agree with Karl and you others on these important issues. My biggest gripe nowadays (besides flash sites, which I despise, and labyrinthic site navigation) is the trend towards microscopic font sizes. Is it supposed to be cool, if your website utilizies 0.5em Arial?!? Unfortunately my eyesight is rapidly growing worse, so this became an issue lately.

    So when redesigning our websites, maybe we should try to put more attention to these important facts. I can only say: I recently gave my website an overhaul and find it way more accessible now.
    Greetings from Vienna!
    My website: Above the staff.net

  9. #9

    Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    Yea, I'm developing a site the past couple of months. Sorry folks, but its Flash, but I'm thinking of doing an HTML site to compliment it.... Apart from that my first instructions to the developer were to keep the fonts large. Man I hate those tiny font sites!!! My site is still under construction with footprint issues. It doesn't quite fit the screen in Internet Explorer. I have an intermediary page I'm hoping to loose when the size issues are straightened out. So much work.

    Hey Karl! Do you use your UNIVERSAL ACCESS options in Macintosh SYSTEM PREFERENCES?

  10. #10

    Talking Re: Please allow me a little rant?

    Hey Karl... Here's one more anti-flash vote. I am a STRONG unbeliever in Flash. I hate Flash sites. Whenever I get to a Flash site that has a skip intro button, I immediately skip the intro. Quit wasting my time. Those sites should keep track of how many visitors skip the intro. What a waste of time and energy.

    It may be possible for someone to use Flash in a more subtle way, in which case, great. But 99 times out of a hundred it is used to annoy me, slow me down, flash graphics at me that I don't care to see, display animations and marketing, etc, etc.. If someone is truly making a web based application...then perhaps Flash is the way to go, as opposed to some of the other technologies out there. But so far that I've seen...web interfaces that are lean and trim, fast, no flash...are the ones I prefer.

    Incidentally, when I put a CDROM into my drive and it auto launches some stupid flash based thing I immediately cancel that too and go to the file explorer. QUIT WASTING MY TIME.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

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