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Is Blind Inaccessability Discrimination?

Discussion in 'HTML & Website Design' started by mdvaldosta, Mar 15, 2006.

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Is website inaccessablity to the blind discrimination?

  1. Yes, it's discrimination

    10 vote(s)
    23.3%
  2. No it's not

    27 vote(s)
    62.8%
  3. I'm not sure

    6 vote(s)
    14.0%
  1. #1
    Do you feel that not having a blind accessable website (tableless design, alt text on images, etc) is discrimination? Intentional or not? Should Target and other websites be held liable for making sure their website caters to the blind?

    This poll was inspired by a discussion in the HTML & Website Design forum where there was discussion where it was said (basically) that using tables for design leads to discrimination on the basis that page readers cannot read the page properly.

    I think this is a big issue, and wondering the thoughts on this. For those not aware of the Target lawsuit in California (lol!), here is a link and an excerpt:

    SEMrush
     
    mdvaldosta, Mar 15, 2006 IP
    SEMrush
  2. dkalweit

    dkalweit Well-Known Member

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    #2
    Is every book available in braile? Honestly, I believe taking extra measures to make sites accessible to the blind is as important as making it accessible to those using 640x480, 800x600, etc., but it's a business decision to decide when it's worthwhile. If I'm creating a site for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, I'll obviously have a large % of blind people in my target demographic, so I'll cater to them-- similarily, if I have a very mainstream site catering to people with old computers, I'll make sure my site is very usable at 640x480 and 800x600.


    --
    Derek
     
    dkalweit, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  3. Crazy_Rob

    Crazy_Rob I seen't it!

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    #3
    Technically it is discrimination.
     
    Crazy_Rob, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  4. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #4
    It is discrimination, if for no other reason than the fact that making a site accessible is less a matter of expense/convenience and more a matter of whether you choose to follow the guidelines set in place to create sites that make all features of a site accessible to blind visitors without compromising the general Web experience.

    To answer your question Derek, no, of course every book is not available in braille, but the Web is not a book. The practical limitations with printed media are not present with the Web in regards to accessibility, just the willingness of developers to make their work accessible. With printed media, practical issues make it such that printing in braille cannot be done across the board. With most Web media, making a site inaccessible is a choice a developer makes in how he or she develops a site, and in choosing not to follow accessibility guidelines, he or she has exercised active descrimination.

    I say "most," because I would not lump sites where presentational media are the focus into this category (such as a site like Homestarrunner.com, or a video sharing site, etc.). I would put these in the same category with books, considering practical limitations.
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  5. ViciousSummer

    ViciousSummer Ayn Rand for President! Staff

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    #5
    That Target lawsuit is BS in my opinion. Why don't they sue whoever makes the screen readers for not making them good enough to read all websites. :rolleyes: Gotta love America, the land of frivilous lawsuits...
     
    ViciousSummer, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  6. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #6
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  7. ViciousSummer

    ViciousSummer Ayn Rand for President! Staff

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    #7
    If screen readers can't develop with changing technology, then that's the problem. Have screen readers changed in the last 7 years? Because the internet sure has...
     
    ViciousSummer, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  8. AMysticWeb

    AMysticWeb Guest

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    #8
    Alt text is extremely important so the screen readers can decipher your images. It isn't that difficult to add and it is standard validation.

    As to tables, the screen reader can navigate these. What they have difficulty navigating is framed sites.

    As to whether of not this is discrimination, I disagree. The web although publicly accessible, doesn't represent a physical establishment as the law intended in determining what is and isn't discrimination. After all, I have visited very few websites with wheel chair ramps and wheel chair accessible restrooms. Maybe I missed something.

    I can see where Target could definitely step up with Alt text for images. Their use of these is minimal. Although the main menu bar utilizes alt text, many other images do not.

    Unfortunately I doubt if they are alone in this.
     
    AMysticWeb, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  9. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #9
    Has it? The most recent iteration of a Web standard was in 1999. Everything since then has been a) refinement of coding norms around these standards (XHTML), and b) browsers catching up to those standards. The only way the Internet has changed has involved people learning to make the most of those standards, and over time, this has appeared to be a big shift forward in development practices. But the tools being used have been around for a long time, and all the WCAG references is how to use those tools properly. That part has not changed at all. You can expect them to update their guidlines to coincide with XHTML 2.0 when it passes its release candidate status, but otherwise, screenreaders are quite up-to-date, as are the guidelines. In many ways, the changing of technology you're talking about is developers mastering the tools they've been given in order to be able to perform to the level required by WCAG seven years ago ;)
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  10. browntwn

    browntwn Illustrious Member

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    #10
    All sites are not the same. Obviously most text based sites with few images should be nearly 100% readable for blind surfers. However, there is another type of site, one whose's primary impact is visual.

    I see those type of sites as more like artwork. They don't require the Mona Lisa to be like a relief map, I shouldn't have to make my visually oriented sites lame so some blind person can hear who I have posted pictures of. I mean seriously, this is turning into a Vonnegut novel,with a Handicapper General to dictate to us the lowest common denomiator that we will design to.

    (example: 200 pics of jessica alba. So I have an alt tag that says 'jessica alba'. Like that really does anything for the blind surfer. The only way to effectively tag them would be to create tages specificlly describing each picture, right? And seriously, what would that really provide in terms of benefit to a blind surfer? No blind person is 'looking' at my pics of Jessica Alba nor are they coming to listing to her name read 200 times from an alt tag.)
     
    browntwn, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  11. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #11
    I think are two completely independent questions being asked here too.

    1. Does a developer who does not take accessibility into account discriminate?

    2. Is this illegal? Should it be?

    I don't think there's any question the answer to #1 is yes. When you consciously choose to ignore accessibility guidelines, you discriminate. Everyone discriminates every day. I discriminated against black socks this morning when I put on brown ones. I discriminate for/against a bottle of wine or beer all the time. Sometimes our discriminatory actions have an effect on others. Sometimes they don't. In the case of Web development, discriminating does adversely affect others. It is what it is.

    The issue I think I'm seeing argued here is whether someone should be held liable for discriminating. Should Web developers bear legal responsibility for their discriminatory actions? That's another question unto itself. I answered yes to the poll for the reasons I stated above. I'm not sure how I would have responded if the basis of the thread was the second question, because I haven't thought this out very far.
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  12. forkqueue

    forkqueue Guest

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    #12
    Screen readers have changed a hell of a lot in the last 7 years.

    Pretty much any well-designed site will work with a modern screen-reader. If web designers are so stupid as to put text on a website in the form of JPGs (as I believe Target did) then quite frankly they deserve everything they get.
     
    forkqueue, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  13. ideas_man

    ideas_man Active Member

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    #13
    A website is a personal creation and I believe that nobody has the right to tell you how to design it. If you want to go the extra mile to make it compatible with third party softwares that cater to users with different needs, that's fine. However, I certainly don't think it should be illegal should you choose not to.

    I agree with ViciousSummer, it is down to screen readers to read what we create. If they won't develop effective software for minority audiences, why should we be made responsible?

    We'd best translate this thread into all languages before we get accused of discriminating against all non-english speakers!

    Crazy!!!! :)
     
    ideas_man, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  14. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #14
    That's sort of like saying Target should be able to build its stores on stilts and it is wheelchair manufacturers' faults for not creating a wheelchair that can fly.
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  15. mopacfan

    mopacfan Peon

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    #15
    I agree. If I were target, I'd counter sue for the frivolity of the suit that was brought.
     
    mopacfan, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  16. ViciousSummer

    ViciousSummer Ayn Rand for President! Staff

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    #16
    "Well-designed" is a matter of opinion. If someone thinks that your site is not well-designed, should they be able to sue you? Hell no. Putting text in an image is done for a reason. I know people that do that so the text is not picked up by search engines or scrapers looking for email addresses, etc.
     
    ViciousSummer, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  17. ViciousSummer

    ViciousSummer Ayn Rand for President! Staff

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    #17
    No, that's not the case at all.

    Your saying that if a wheelchair is made with square wheels, it's somehow Targets fault that their store is hard to navigate. :)
     
    ViciousSummer, Mar 15, 2006 IP
  18. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #18
    But screenreaders are made with round wheels, not square ;)

    That's the whole point. There are accessibility building codes companies like Target must adhere to so that wheelchairs can access them properly. In exactly the same way, there are accessibility building codes for the Web industry, so screenreaders and other devices can access them properly. The screen readers are right.
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  19. the_pm

    the_pm Peon

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    #19
    Wow, check out the negative Rep (-1 pt.) I just received:
    Sometimes it absolutely astonishes me how ignorant some people can be.
     
    the_pm, Mar 15, 2006 IP
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  20. dkalweit

    dkalweit Well-Known Member

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    #20
    So are you saying websites should be covered under the laws of public accommodation? Personally, all my websites are private clubs. Only people who don't piss me off or complain are welcome. ;-)


    --
    Derek
     
    dkalweit, Mar 15, 2006 IP