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Do the Blind Deserve More Effort on the Web?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the some-effort-would-be-a-good-start dept.

The Internet 663

dratcw writes "An article was posted this week to ComputerWorld, detailing the frustrations faced by blind people struggling to use the Web. The piece shows how little progress has been made and the inadequacy of solutions such as Microsoft's Narrator screen reader. While the article generated many positive comments, one reader said the disabled should 'get a grip' and maintained they 'have no more right to demand that others provide for their needs than I, as a diabetic, have a right to demand that sugar no longer be used.' Should Web sites and software makers do more, or does the reality of today's economics dictate that the blind/disabled will continue to struggle and learn to live with it?"

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Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (5, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109632)

If we work on the broader problem then we get better web sites for everyone, especially the disabled, without even making any particular effort for them. For example:

- A link to download a file should just go to the file, not some clever javascript crap that tells you to please wait while you're redirected, your download should start in a few moments etc.

- Quit breaking stuff up into dozens of tiny bite sized pages. My scrollbar works just fine thank you very much, and it lets me scan all of the content in an instant instead of having to click through it all. Yes, I know that some people do this to goose their ad revenue, but you see it other places too.

- Don't use clever little graphics and pop-ups for every link, text works much better.

- I don't need links to "print this page" or "email it to a friend".

- You don't need to know what region of the world I'm in before I can download a damned printer driver.

- Don't use ridiculous URLs that query stuff from a CGI with a zillion arguments just to serve up a static page.

I could go on all day... fixing any of those design problems would automatically improve accessibility, not just for blind users but for mobile devices as well.

Thankfully we've mostly gotten rid of the horrible "splash pages", flash animations, and musical home pages. I'm sure in due time people will get their head around some of the other basic issues I've mentioned, but unfortunately people keep coming up with dumb new ideas much faster than that.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (5, Funny)

shrikel (535309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109696)

Thankfully we've mostly gotten rid of the horrible ... musical home pages.

Are you kidding? Those at least can be enjoyed by blind and seeing people alike!

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (5, Funny)

Aquaseafoam (1271478) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109842)

I find it highly insensitive that you have overlooked the deaf community. Surely they also wish to enjoy such magnificent web pages.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (2, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109946)

Ugh... One person's musical web page is another's noise (and its specially galling when people have multiple videos on their web pages that all play simultaneously. PUKE!)

As for the usability issues, they are indeed a "shitty web design" problem.

Program for events and NOT for triggers and your interface can be adaptive.

Most web (2.0 or not) stuff is coded like it was thought up by a twelve-year old and QAed by a thirteen year old.

Kids too ignorant to ever be let loose near firearms.

But instead there put in charge of things and pout when people complain that they didn't think of ... (the list is endless.)

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110006)

I'm deaf you insensitive clod!

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (3, Funny)

Androclese (627848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110118)

Are you kidding? Those at least can be enjoyed by blind and seeing people alike!
Are you kidding? Those at least can be suffered by blind and seeing people alike!

There... I fixed it for ya...

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0, Redundant)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110164)

s/enjoyed/suffered

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109710)

Thank you.... sigh

If there were some basic concept of 'standard' web pages it might ruin the creativity of the Internet, yet every web designer can create a 'translation ready' web page of their material for accessability translation by some online service, maybe GoogleSightWeb ???

Something like the language translation systems.

Yes, all your content does not need to be in shiny little boxes AND when being translated to speech etc. it doesn't even have to be formatted pretty.

I'm reasonably certain that many web 2.0 applications can be made to format pages distinctly for just such a purpose. Then when tools are available if you don't give a damn about blind people... well, don't use those tools.

This is similar to the problem presented to web designers that have a need to support mobile browser users. The whole WAP website thing is very similar to what I'm thinking here.

Yes, if you use a website design tool that supports translations of your content it would be easy... er?

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1, Interesting)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109722)

- Don't use ridiculous URLs that query stuff from a CGI with a zillion arguments just to serve up a static page.
This is quite possibly one of my biggest irritations with the web. The page never changes, ever. There is no need to build it on the fly.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (5, Insightful)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109742)

Unfortunately, though, more and more companies are making their pages entirely flash based. I think that's a far more of an egregious problem than the stuff you mention. Why the fuck I need to waste my time loading fucking flash movies to navigate a page when it works better in plain HTML is beyond me.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109878)

more and more companies are making their pages entirely flash based.


Ding! See what Janus [janusfunds.com] recently did to their front page. Because it uses Flash, not only can't the blind get to their accounts, but they have now forced people to use an insecure interface to access their account. Brilliant!

The same applies for those links you see. Click on 'Institutional Cash'. See what happens?

This is why, Flash must die! [slashdot.org]

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110210)

It's all about control. Once they put it in Flash, they know exactly how it'll appear. No weirdness from browser to browser. Companies that argue endlessly about a 3 number color difference (should "our gray" be #CCCCCC or CCC9CC?, etc) are all over that kind of control of the presentation.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Informative)

arakon (97351) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109756)

"Thankfully we've mostly gotten rid of the horrible "splash pages", flash animations, and musical home pages. I'm sure in due time people will get their head around some of the other basic issues I've mentioned, but unfortunately people keep coming up with dumb new ideas much faster than that."

You've never seen MySpace have you?

Most of the topics you've covered are that way because someone decided it was a better way to get another opportunity to serve you a targeted advertisement. The download links are that way to prevent other people from stealing your content, denying you ad revenue and leeching your bandwidth... It all comes back to money and some content providers heavily rely on ad revenue to pay their monthly hosting and bandwidth costs.

Others are just greedy.

When bandwidth becomes free, maybe you'll see the reverse to these trends. Maybe. Probably not.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110080)

The download links are that way to prevent other people from stealing your content, denying you ad revenue and leeching your bandwidth...

only for the really underskilled web designers. I can make one that works just like how the GP asks for AND only work for links from a specific domain. It's not that hard to do, it just is not a plugin for dreamweaver and requires real php,perl,asp, whatever scripting skills to do it.

My biggest problem is the silly use of the damned capchata or whatever they want to call that damed squiggly text. It's cracked so it's not slowing anyone down, but I see the stupid thing all over the place where it should not be. Like searching on a forum, or used when you are logged into your account at some places.. WTF is that?

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Insightful)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109774)

In addition to the many problems cited by the parent, I'd like to point out that anything that doesn't work in a cross-browser environment is a problem.

Saying "This site is designed for Internet Explorer only" is like putting up a sign outside the Wal-Mart parking lot saying "This lot is designed for GM vehicles only". You'll still get plenty of visitors, but is there some good reason for keeping people (and their money) out of your business?

My company is about to move a PC-based system to the Web, and I'm going to be poking around as much as possible to get rid of IE-specific pitfalls. I may not have much luck, though... it's a vertical market app for an environment where "Nobody got fired for buying IBM^WMicrosoft" is very much in effect.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110040)

Saying "This site is designed for Internet Explorer only" is like putting up a sign outside the Wal-Mart parking lot saying "This lot is designed for GM vehicles only". You'll still get plenty of visitors, but is there some good reason for keeping people (and their money) out of your business?
I'm sorry, but that's just wrong (although a popular opinion on slashdot). Until recently, IE enjoyed 90%+ market share and only linux users were completely unable to use IE, so it'd be more like saying that their store isn't designed for people wearing traditional Japanese kimonos and a cowboy hat. But for the analogy to really be correct, you'd have to add that people in kimonos and cowboy hats made it so that building a store and stocking the product on the shelves cost about 2x as much. The motivation for building for something else had to come from something other than profits.

Over the past 2 years or so, firefox and safari have taken off to the point where it makes good business sense to accommodate them. You'll also notice that most (good) web designers themselves use something other than IE. Overall, it's much better today than it used to be, but that's also because the browser market's more balanced.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109798)

I'm rewriting my (presently not so good) website from scratch so I can learn more about CSS and W3C-compliant HTML. I'm coding to standards. Style separate from content.

I notice the standards-compliant code I'm creating is accessible pretty much by default. If I pay proper attention to design (minimalist, easy to navigate) and not add features just because I think they look swell, the final design will be far more accessible than my present one.

It will be much leaner and easier to update as well. I am adding a content management system. Updates will be easier, and I will test the results using common screen readers.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110180)

When designing web sites I always write my HTML to be so flexible with styles you would think it was written for the CSS Zen Garden [csszengarden.com] . Why? Because I know that when I redesign the site's layout, as I inevitably will for one reason or another, I don't have to go mucking around in all my HTML to make the page look different. It certainly doesn't hurt the site's accessibility.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (3, Funny)

DAtkins (768457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110198)

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Rather than having html that uses an image link, use an href and swap the link out for an image using CSS. It's easy to do, and makes navigation MUCH simpler to implement and use.

If you open your page in Lynx (or disable CSS) and cannot decipher it, then it will not work for the blind. Frankly, it also makes me hate the designer. I will refrain from making comments about what Slashdot looks like with CSS turned off :-)

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

gatzke (2977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109884)

You may have gotten rid of splash pages, but you will never get rid of the badgers-

http://www.badgerbadgerbadger.com/ [badgerbadgerbadger.com]

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109920)

I once worked for a web design company (back when image maps were generally server-side supported, not client-side) that had truly bad design choices. One for a page that used a server-side image map, they tried to include text links at the bottom of the page so that the links could still be followed by search engines. Except they couldn't get the text to position itself precisely on enough clients that it wouldn't break their (NetObjects Fusion) layout table... so they turned the text links into an image of text links and made it another server-side image map.

This was when the boss angrily declared, "I am not an idiot!" when I tried to point out the problem to him.

The last thing I ever did for that company was finally give them something they really wanted: a frameset that constrained the usable real-estate on a page to be no more than 640x480. They then converted their own website to use that frameset and quickly went out of business.

The parent company though still publishes a free, local, ad-supported business magazine. Their website even as an "Accessibility Statement" page.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (2, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109926)

- I don't need links to "print this page" or "email it to a friend".
I strongly disagree! Very frequently the "print this page" link remedies many of the problems you listed--gets rid of ads, all on one page, gets rid of navigation cruft, etc.

Also useful if you want to like, print the page ;-)

The other day an artiest friend of a friend heard I did some web programming and then equated that with web design. He said he was getting into web design too--he's been learning flash and might eventually get around to HTML. It made me sad.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (4, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110034)

I strongly disagree! Very frequently the "print this page" link remedies many of the problems you listed--gets rid of ads, all on one page, gets rid of navigation cruft, etc.
A properly crafted site intended to have a printing option has a stylesheet that has @media print rules for restyling the page for printing, automatically removing that cruft.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109940)

Most of these problems don't affect the blind one way or the other.

Things that could actually help usability of the web for blind people are

- Using alt/title tags on every image used for a button/link
- Setting a logical tab order for form elements
- Putting "skip navigation" buttons where a screen reader would catch it but is not obtrusive to the seeing so blind users don't need to listen to Microsoft Sam tell them what the links at the top of every page are every time they go to another page on that site
- Properly labeling form elements

Those are just a few off the top of my head, but I strongly suggest trying to surf the web with a screen reader and closing your eyes. It is extremely difficult. As somebody with rapidly deteriorating vision, its scary to think that the internet could one day be virtually unusable to me. At least until bionic eyes are ready.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109950)

One thing I wish you would have added wouldn't help the truly blind, but it would surely help all the over 40 geezers. That's stop using red on red, blue on blue, and especially gray onb a slightly darker gray.

Stop using non-scalable font sizes that break Firefox's [CTRL][+].

Stop trying to make the screen conform to a given size. People have different sized screens with different resolutions. It isn't paper that you've printed and dictate the size of. Your anal control-freakery just gives you a bad, ugly site with too wide of margins and wasted screen real estate, or worse, horizontal scroll bars.

Actually reading http://www.useit.com/ [useit.com] or http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/ [webpagesthatsuck.com] would go a long way to fixing both your gripes and mine as well.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109954)

- I don't need links to "print this page" or "email it to a friend".


The 'print this page' link often links to a 'printer-friendly' version of the page, however.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110104)

The 'print this page' link often links to a 'printer-friendly' version of the page, however.
And what purpose does that serve, exactly?

If the page is properly designed, it will already be 'printer-friendly' (possibly with a print-specific stylesheet.)

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109962)

I was sorry to see the question even asked, who wants to be blind? Why can't web design instruction include the basics of 508 [section508.gov] compliance?

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109996)

Sadly those arguments go against what my boss wants for SEO purposes, and we'll get more hits from people searching google anyday than hits from blind users.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110010)

- You don't need to know what region of the world I'm in before I can download a damned printer driver.
You do if you want a driver that has dialog boxes in a language other than English...

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (1)

elecmahm (1194167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110052)

I totally agree. It is VERY easy to design website content semantically, using proper tags (header tags, list tags, etc.) that are easily navigable by screen readers. If you know your HTML and you know your CSS (or work with someone that does) you can have a semantically accurate website and have it look however you want! Some people are still stuck on table-based layouts (I notice this a lot with Microsofties) or get DIV-itis, using DIVs when they should be using lists, or blockquotes, or paragraph blocks, etc. Best way to check on the semantic accuracy of your website is to turn off the stylesheet -- you should be able to easily understand the content (it should resemble what websites looked like in the mid-90s, before the Frame Craze); If that looks right then you can do whatever the heck you want with CSS -- screen readers don't care about that.

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (2, Interesting)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110070)

What we need is a ACID-like test for web sites:
-Do all relevant pictures have AltText field used and valid.
-"How annoying is navigating the site" Index
-etc

Re:Shitty web design is not a "blind" problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110134)

- I don't need links to "print this page" or "email it to a friend".
Nooo, I need links to "print this page", that's where I get the readable, scrollable version of the article!

"Should Web sites and software makers do more?" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109642)

We make porn websites; why bother?

No. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109648)

Next question.

Do the Blind Deserve More Effort on the Web? (5, Funny)

Jswalden86 (730666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109666)

I can't see why not.

Re:Do the Blind Deserve More Effort on the Web? (2, Funny)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109706)

Are you blind too?

Death to flash! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109674)

There are so many websites that don't work unless you have flash installed.

I don't use flash because I just hate it, but blind people don't have much choice in the matter...

Alt Tags for Images (4, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109682)

The biggest thing web designers do that breaks the web for disabled people is not include the alt tag in an image. I mean how hard is that?

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

Crash Culligan (227354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109736)

I can rebut that statement with two words... [google.com]

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109794)

That may be the one exception to the rule but really if you know what you are doing you don't need to use Spacer Gifs. I've never used them and look how I turned out.

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109966)

I've never used them and look how I turned out.
I'm blind, you insensitive clod!

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110200)

I'm blind, you insensitive clod!
itopoi lskjelkj;s0 3o;kj43269jfmsbmmw!

      There, I fixed that for you.

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110106)

Do you have any idea how much time it takes to write alt tags for all this porn?

Re:Alt Tags for Images (1)

solraith (1203394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110174)

Shouldn't your TGP script take care of that for you? ;)

That's what you get for ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109690)

Blind?!?

That's what you get for jerking off to online porn!

Now, are you going to complain about hairy palms?!?!

Geeze!

My philosophy (4, Insightful)

Erich (151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109692)

In my opinion, making everyone change their ways for a few who have an issue isn't ethical, whether it's forcing people to change their web page to make it more friendly to the disabled, or not letting peanut butter sandwiches in elementary schools.

On the other hand, people should know that if their web page is not available to a group of people, then those people will not get the benefit of the web page. In addition, there is a market for folks to create (and sell, if they so choose) products that help people who have problems get around in society. Thus, wheelchairs and hearing aids and braille and such. It's always been this way.

To say that everyone must be included in the class of users makes no sense; do you have to make music accessible to the deaf, or visual art available to the blind? Of course not. Should you have to change your personal web page that you use to post pictures for your friends and family to make it more friendly to some disabled user you don't know? Of course not.

Re:My philosophy (3, Insightful)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109796)

The question wasn't whether it was ethical to force people to design web pages that way, but whether it was ethical to design web pages that way, nothing more. You answered a question nobody asked.

Re:My philosophy (0, Flamebait)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109812)

Two things. One - peanut allergies kill. If you have peanut allergies, you can die from it, from just a touch or breathing the tiny particles in the air from a cough or sneeze. Does it make sense to ban peanut butter sandwiches if you have someone allergic to peanuts? Since I have a daughter with severe peanut allergies, I do think so, since I prefer not to have her die a painful death.

Second thing - go read the first post. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING SPECIAL TO MAKE THE WEBSITE EASIER TO USE FOR THE BLIND Just stop using those damned javacrap shit unnecessarily. Why should links be javascripted?! Why shouldn't alt tags be filled out? This has been a standard recommendation since the days of mosaic. Just because you're damned lazy doesn't make it right.

Re:My philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109870)

I think most here would take exception to the idea of banning the peanut butter production so the miniscule percentage of people with peanut allergies will be safer. Should was also ban water so those with water allergies will not fear dying from contact with it? Perhaps we should ban sunlight too so that those with sunlight allergies will be more comfortable.

No.

Re:My philosophy (5, Insightful)

CyberData4 (1247268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109906)

Stop being a drama queen. I have peanut butter allergies too. I just don't eat the shit. Problem solved.

Re:My philosophy (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110036)

That was my first thought as well, the drama queen bit. If we start banning everything that could potentially hurt or kill anyone, no matter how small or large a segement of the population, we'll soon have very little left.

It is unfortunate that some people have potentially life threatening allergies. My mother is allergic to beestings. If she gets stung she has about a half an hour to live if she doesn't get her shot. Let's kill all the bees! (not)

If someone has a deadly allergy they should do their best to avoid the allergen.

Re:My philosophy (0, Flamebait)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110064)

People with severe peanut allergies can go into shock from the smell of peanuts on your breath. Hard to avoid, isn't it.

Re:My philosophy (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110084)

Some can, yes. I agree that it's tragic. Banning peanut butter is not the answer. I hate to sound callous, but if someone is THAT allergic to a common food and they die, perhaps it is natural selection at work?

To look at it another way (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110116)

Should everyone wear a sterile suit and mask so that people with immunodeficiencies do not have to live inside a plastic bubble?

Re:My philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109936)

Ever stop and think that people with deadly allergies are not SUPPOSED to survive? Ban peanut butter? You're an idiot. I'm sorry about your daughter, but genetic selection does work and we have already done MORE than enough to interfere with it. I hope she never gets exposed and dies, but I also hope she is responsible and doesn't breed so as not to pass it on.

I agree, it should not be mandatory (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109910)

A lot of the web's content exploits the ability to see. Whole websites are geared to nothing more than pictures and manipulation of them.

How can rules be applied that would not be biased against the content choices of the providers? If a provider wanted to provide full length movies that they did not originate would it fall on them to provide versions that lend themselves to one disability or another or all?

The simple fact is, not all aspects of life are enjoyable by all people. The primary limiting factor is loss or serious reduction of one of the senses, eyesight and hearing are the two primary ones that seriously alter one's methods of participation in the world.

Second, the internet is NOT A RIGHT.

Third, it is not a right to impose on someone your needs. I am so tired of people decrying their right to my stuff or someone else's, to include money, time, and or property. The web isn't a right. As such you cannot impose your problems on people who use it.

Re:My philosophy (0)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109914)

You do know that mozart was deaf, right? Should he have been excluded/discouraged?

I got to sit in a meeting, where a college accessability person was talking about the work they were doing to make their site more "accessable". (note that is a general term). Their research found that a few simple changes not only made it easier on the blind, but for many other disabilites, and made the site far easier to navigate as well. For example, a page has a next button at the bottom of the text. The blind have to wait forever for their screen reader to get to it, the people with Carpal Tunnel syndrom have to move their hands much more, and many other people have to scroll down past all the text to find it. His main point was, as their site became much easier for the disabled to access, it became much easier for non-disabled to access, so users were spending less time on the web site searching for the info they needed.

Re:My philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110074)

You do know that mozart was deaf, right?
Whaaa? Do you mean Beethoven?

Re:My philosophy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110208)

You do know that mozart was deaf, right?
Hmm...I'd probably take your opinion more seriously if you'd pointed out that Beethoven was deaf.

Re:My philosophy (2, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109952)

I think this can be generalised as

Individualist: We are all different but should be treated equally under the law.
Collectivist: "Something must be done" to correct a tragically imperfect world.

The collectivist approach has the propensity to piss me off, because of course it results in more and more obscure laws.
If your on-line shop is unfriendly to screen readers you will likely lose blind customers. I think that this is punishment, and motivation enough.

Re:My philosophy (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110078)

How are people supposed to study, earn a living, and generally get through life if there are vast parts of socieity closed off to them. It really doesn't require that much effort to make things accessible, and the gain to society as a whole is so great. It just seems mean spirited not to.

Re:My philosophy (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110128)

Could designers do a better job? Sure, but the fundamental problem remains that the default interface we have chosen for computer is the MOUSE. This is of no use to the blind, who need to navigate with keyboard shortcuts. Their web experience and for that matter their experience of most any app, is going to be limited to how dependent the interface is on the mouse. Unfortunately for the blind, I don't see that changing significantly any time soon.

Re:My philosophy (1)

Sweeces (1246764) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110202)

We have a free market economy for a reason. If a segment of the market is underserved but willing to pay, problem solved. A solution will emerge to serve that segment, and have their business because we are all greedy bastards who want to make money. If that market segment has no worth then either the larger segment can serve them for feel good points or they continue to go underserved. Basic argument is this: If the blind market is willing to pay for the service it will happen.

Please mod this guy up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109718)

Parent post is the best post ever.

I was going to RTFA (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109720)

I was going to RTFA but it seemed to be giving my screen-reader troubles!

IANAL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109738)

... but perhaps someone who is a lawyer could comment on the results of the lawsuit a few years back asking for damages for websites that are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, i.e., that don't accomodate the disabled. I heard about the suit but never found out how it ended.

It isn't that hard (4, Insightful)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109740)

I've worked as a web developer for years and can honestly say that it isn't hard to make an accessable website/webapplication but it doesn't happen because no one is willing to pay for it. Even the fact that there are laws in place in some countries that require certain standards doesn't motivate (most) clients into paying the extra 5% to have an accessable website; on top of this it doesn't help that your (dishonest) VP of marketing just pulls a number out of the air when they go after a project and you are (typically) heavily underfunded for the work you have to do.

Re:It isn't that hard (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109856)

I recently developed a website for reasonably large and successful company that sells access devices and accessories. These are devices that enable those with disabilities to perform everyday actions such as hold a conversation, use a computer, etc. Initially they specified accessibility as a requirement - it came to about 10% of the quote. The quote was higher than they had budgeted for so accessibility was the part they chose to eliminate. Is it any wonder that the rest of the web isn't accessible?

Googlephone (2, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109772)

I tried using Googlephone yesterday and I found it to work quite well. It had some trouble understanding my speech but it got the job done and it didn't sound like Stephen Hawking. Sure it's only a computer substitute for directory assistance but I don't see why this can't be adapted for use by the blind.

Piss Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109776)

Should all newspapers and other printed material be required to be printed in braille? Don't think so.

If they want the web to be more accessible perhaps they should take it upon themselves to create a solution. To say that others should do it for them is to suggest that they are not as capable as others, which seems to be something they are quite adamant is untrue.

On the bright side, they don't have to put up with hideous flashing ads and popups.

It's the responsibility of the host (1)

sadbabyrabbit (797598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109788)

This is akin to asking the question, "do the handicapped deserve more effort to aid mobility?" A user is a user, and there are plenty of ways to design a site such that the disabled can use it (text-only version is a very simple one). The problem usually lies in lazy designers and coders. The government mandates a standard (Section 508 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_508 [wikipedia.org] ) that mandates goverment IT accessibility. The truth is that no matter what anyone tries to do, accessibility is up to the author - and while care should be taken to address the needs of the disabled, it is far too often overlooked.

where is Aural css ? (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109790)

Theres a lot of disabled special interests. Beware any of you lot who think you can please them. Pleasing them means closed captioning, and more importantly paying each disabled consultant expert each time. CSS might solve the problem, that seems to have gone nwowhere.

Absolutely -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109792)

It's not just the image in tags - it's also the graphical nature of some of the web functionality. The software I design, K-12 educational in nature, relies upon lots of visuals.But, it's truly hard to break those visuals down into representations for the blind.

Being educators, we do have a responsibility to make sure most reasonable educational needs are met through the software we've designed. It's easy to write. But, we're a long way from understanding how to make that happen, in practice.

--Dave
 

Million Dollars Idea (1)

electricbern (1222632) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109806)

Pr0n... for blind people.

Potential (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109810)

The potential is there for the web (and the internet as a whole) to improve the life of people with physical handicaps. The same potential has existed for personal computers in general for over 20 years. I remember a co-worker whose father had a stroke some years ago. She was able to identify a few key things that computers - not necessarily the web - might do to help people like her father. I don't think there's a lot of money to be made there and that's why we haven't seen more (no pun intended).

Blind people may get some help in the future. Whether they deserve it or not is a different story. I tend to think nobody deserves anything except justice and there's already precious little of that floating around.

Capitalism will prevail! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109822)

I'm not providing a taxpayer service with my website so I don't feel that I *need* to make changes to my existing architecture to accommodate a small percentage of internet users. That being said, I don't expect to pass accessibility tests, either. I don't have the resources to go back and re-engineer it. It's like asking a Mom & Pop store to provide a ramp and widen all their entrances to their store so as to accommodate wheelchair-bound people. I understand why you would want to, but you can't blame people for not wanting to spend the time/money.

Diabetic=Blind? I guess eventually... (2, Interesting)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109840)

I think it's a bit of a false dichotomy to compare what it's like being a diabetic to being completely blind. I don't think it's unreasonable to account for some access for people who can't actually see websites. I mean we have diet coke.

Re:Diabetic=Blind? I guess eventually... (2, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110068)

Can't you go blind having diabetes?

sigh.... (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109866)

you know, the "to hell with the blind let them fend for themselves" rhetoric is getting old. I mean really, the only arguments so far seem to be either along the lines of it's too expensive to introduce basic accessibility into web pages or that we shouldn't bother because you think it would be an inconvenience. that's... just... disgusting.

Re:sigh.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110162)

you know, the "to hell with the blind let them fend for themselves" rhetoric is getting old. I mean really, the only arguments so far seem to be either along the lines of it's too expensive to introduce basic accessibility into web pages or that we shouldn't bother because you think it would be an inconvenience. that's... just... disgusting.
Especially when making a website accessible is mostly a matter of using CSS and W3C validated (X)HTML, up to recent standards. The rest is simple stuff: use text for links, put 'alt' attributes on image tags, etc.

Solution (1)

kilgor (461669) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109882)

Based on the previous article [slashdot.org] , we may have a solution: cybernetic eyes

Deaf Brother and the web (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109888)

I don't know any blind people personally, but my deaf brother has benefited hugely by the mass appeal of the web, text messaging, and hand held devices. I would love to see the web be easier to navigate for the blind, as I imagine being blind has got to suck a lot more than being deaf, but I think the medium at the moment is very much situated against them. Text and graphics are what the web are based on. Now if you look back, regular phones and cellphones (without text) were great for the blind, but pretty much sucked for the deaf. So where am I going with this? Maybe in the next few years the web will make a transition to technology that is based around more video with audio (seems to be happening already with youtube, etc.), and this shift will help the blind. For instance, how many presidential speeches are in video form as well as written form lately?

The research from previous article may help... (1)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109902)

For those who are completely blind, the research in the Brain-machine interface may allow them to 'see' artificially. In fact, this has already been done and will only get better with progress in technology http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.09/vision.html [wired.com]

There should be a better way (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109904)

If I were blind, I would want a direct $GenericVideoOutputPort-to-Optic Nerve link.

In fact, I don't think I would want this anyways.

Re:There should be a better way (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109928)

Typo. I think I would want this anyways

Captcha codes shouldn't be used (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23109932)

They create a real problem for blind people. There are far better ways of filtering out bots.

Captcha codes are against pretty much every HTML design guideline anyway.

Why even debate? (4, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109934)

At least in the US, it's the law that you have to use well-known and available methods to allow handicapped people into your place of business. For example, you don't have to provide access for someone in a ventilator, because that would be impractical, but you do have to provide access for someone in a wheelchair, because it's really not all that hard. The EXACT same principle should apply to the web. Providing access to the blind on the web is probably a lot easier than providing wheelchair access in a bricks-and-mortar store.

Re:Why even debate? (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110140)

I might agree, except - what determines a "business" on the web? Amazon is obviously a business. What about some guy just selling stuff off of his personal site? Does he have to provide handicap access?

The internet is such a fluid place (and constantly growing) that it's damn near impossible to define who should follow the rules and who shouldn't.

CSS? (1)

mdahl (1092585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109948)

If you code your website with CSS, and format the raw information in a sane way, you're already a long way ahead in this game. Instead of alt="" why not use it to describe the element, as is intended? This does not have to be a major problem. Narrator type programs, combined with disabled CSS should work on most websites coded "the right way(tm)".

No! (0, Flamebait)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109972)

Enough is enough. The web is fine the way it is. We don't need to cow down to who thinks they are special an deserver special treatment. Life isn't fair. If you blind, deaf, or mute then that is the way you are.

This is the same kind of thinking that got us crap like ADA. Making it illegal to have a round door knob any more. Mandating that private business put aside special parking places and entry ramps. While all those are good for business no law should REQUIRE a private business to have them.

What happens if laws get passed that require you to have handicapped accessible webpages? Then the web will wind up getting dumbed down to and bogged down to fit a specific minority of people. Business that don't do this will be opened to lawsuits by predatory disabled lawyers and generally everyone suffers.

I'm sorry you can't do all the things I can do but I should have to be made to suffer because you can't. A line as to be drawn somewhere.

Limited by management ... (4, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#23109988)

On any number of projects where I've provided a web interface, I've been told in no uncertain words that I was to make pages that were tailored for exactly the browser and screen that the project's manager uses.

Thus, I've often been told that the pages must be forced via things like width= attributes to be exactly N pixels wide, even when there's nothing in a page that is dependent on any particular width. I've been ordered to present some data in pictorial form, even when simple text data was easier to understand and took less screen space.

So very often, managers explicitly order their developers to produce web pages that are inaccessible to anyone other than people exactly like them.

There are some ways that one can fight this. In a few cases, I've found that I can "go over the boss's head" by showing a higher-up something that they find useful. I happen to know that they have a Blackberry or a Treo that they love and use all the time, and my boss's declared page structure won't work on their machine, so eventually orders come down to make the web interface usable on the higher-ups' favorite little handheld gadget. While doing this, I can also sneak in things that make it more accessible to the disabled.

But this is a passive-resistance approach, and it's not always successful. I like to also try to get across the idea that you, yes you, may find yourself handicapped by this time next week, in a way that you can't predict. The sensible thing would be to guarantee that your minions' efforts are usable even after that accident or medical emergency has left you restricted in what you can see or read.

But few managers are willing to take such a long-term view of the situation. So all too often, my pages aren't as accessible as I know how to make them.

It would be nice to learn of other ways that we developers can fight such management intransigence.

It isn't easy or convenient (1)

Merk (25521) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110000)

Being sighted, and not having access to a screen reader, designing a site to be blind-friendly is just too much effort for most designers, and since there's generally nothing in it for them (no extra money, no extra kudos, etc.) it's hard to justify making an effort to do it.

I think if there were a really easy addon to firefox that said "render for the blind" that didn't actually do the screen-reading part of rendering, but did dump all graphics, render things in "order" rather than how they show up visually, etc. there might be more effort made. I think people just forget to add alt tags, or forget that on-screen order isn't what you get out of a screen reader.

Having said that, I've heard that one of the biggest problems blind people face is that as far as CAPTCHAs are concerned, they're spambots.

Wow, what a tool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110002)

[blind people]have no more right to demand that others provide for their needs than I, as a diabetic, have a right to demand that sugar no longer be used.'

This is classicly bullshit reasoning. The poster can certainly buy a wide variety of low-sugar products, many at the same grocery stores used by everyone else. There is no comparable set of conveniently accessible options for blind people who want to use, say, a social networking site.

Technology can open so many doors for people with vision problems, but it may actually be closing them. To me, solving this problem is at least as noble as say, promoting Open Office.

You can't win them all (2, Informative)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110016)

But to a degree the ADA [wikipedia.org] forces a lot of companies hands to make sure that their products and services can be used. It's not unreasonable to think that as a disabled person that I should have access to the same products and services as my non-disabled peers as long as the accommodation's would not cause undue strain on a company.

Redesigning a web page may or may not fall under undue strain... I'm betting not. Then again not all pages are in the US and would be subject to something in the ADA.

Blind people are fun to tease (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23110066)

My uncle is blind (after a recent landscaping accident - seriously). We just convince him that the internet is full of visually-disturbing crap and isn't worth using anyway; he seems to accept this idea. My cousin once teased him that he couldn't see Britney Spears' crotch, which, at the time, was being posted all over the internet. (He lost his vision around the time she was about 17-18 and still desirable) My uncle's head almost exploded in frustration.

Give me a break (0)

torkus (1133985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110100)

It amazes me that we live in a commerce-driven society where the CEO's can essentially tank a company to make their $100mm bonuses out of pure greed and yet others cry about how the web should be re-written for the vast VAST minority of people.

And worse, it's the same gov't tards allowing the first as crying for the second. Someone kill me please.

The problem isn't the webpages (1, Interesting)

llZENll (545605) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110122)

The problem is the shitty readers, a reader should be able to read any webpage that a person can see, but because of all the javascript, flash, and images that are prevalent now they probably don't work too well. They need to just render the page as an image, then put it through a OCR program, then read that, then the reader program works as a person does, by seeing and reading the page, not by hacking through the HTML.

Have the blind tried using mobile pages? They are much simpler and would be much easier for a reader I would think.

Until the blind come together and put their money where their needs are and build a program that works, the demand doesn't justify the cost. No soup for you I guess.

The largest difficulty (4, Interesting)

Evets (629327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110148)

I have looked into developing for screen readers in the past, but the biggest problem I've run into is the software being used by the disabled.

1) there are great disparities between how the screen readers interpret things.
2) the most popular screen readers are expensive, and offer no free versions for developers.

The Microsoft Narrator didn't hit my radar. I don't know anything about it, but if it's free and of high quality, that's a major step forward.
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