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The Bigger They Are — The Less They Care

 

The Bigger They Are —

The Less They Care

 

HOW BIG IS TOO BIG for a service company? Many big companies provide ‘necessary’ services to those using the Internet. For example, WordPress was used to post this entry.

 

Is there a point when they become so enamored with themselves and their perceived worth, they cease to fill the wants and needs of their clients? (And by clients I mean all the consumers using their services, not just the majority   –which can be anywhere from 51% to 99.99 %.) Do they instead, do things or provide services they think important or relevant to their own needs? Things they think the consumers want, not what they actually need? 

 

ACCESSIBILITY A FAD?:

Of the millions of people who access the Internet daily, over 30 million of them have some sensory or motor disability necessitating the use of adaptive equipment. From the inability to ‘see’ the screen, to the lack of hand mobility to use a mouse, adaptive equipment and software has tried to compensate for and make available, the ‘wonders of the Internet’. When the Internet came into being, it was thought it would be the ‘Great Equalizer’. Sitting behind a computer keyboard, no one else could see if you sat in a wheelchair, could not type, or could not see the computer screen. But then technology took off, and those of us who do things a bit differently, were left in the dust.

 

THREE EXAMPLES:

Let’s consider: YahooGroups, Google, and WordPress and see how ‘user friendly’ they are to those using adaptive equipment.

 

YAHOOGROUPS.COM

Invisible Links and No Easy Communication

 

In order to register for a lecture (or series of them) hosted by YahooGroups, one must ‘read’ a graphic symbol to prove one is human. This is impossible for those who use screen readers, as they only read text; those with many forms of color blindness, as they cannot differentiate colors; and those with certain vision difficulties, including contrast and clarity problems.

 

But wait. YahooGroups has conveniently provided a link to an alternate way to prove one’s humanness. Will it be an audio password? Or something else?  Just click on this link below and see:

 

 

Did you click on the link? What? You couldn’t find it? Well, golly-gee, no one has complained about it. It must be your problem. 

 

And that’s partially due to the fact that on YahooGroups the way to communicate with them is neither easy nor intuitive. Instead of a contact link, YahooGroups uses a Let us know link. It brings you to a Groups Suggestion Board.

 

Here, you input your suggestion and then you… what? There’s no link to submit or review your suggestion. And no instructions on what to do. The rest of the links are for reading and commenting on the suggestions of others. I haven’t been able to find any of the comments I’ve made (it doesn’t tell you in which category it’s putting your suggestion in,  if any at all. Nor have I ever received anything from YahooGroups about receiving my comments. Did they actually get in? I have no idea. So, this giant doesn’t even care if someone’s tapping to get in. Now, every time I take a class hosted by YahooGroups, I contact the moderator and ask nicely for him/her to add me to the class list. So far, it’s worked. The question is: Why should I have to do things differently? Accessibility shouldn’t be an option; rather it should be a facet of a service or website. 

 

GOOGLE.COM

Unwanted New Version And Links Going Nowhere:

 

I used to use Google as my browser. But when Google Chrome came out, I stopped. Why, you might ask. I’ll tell you.  

 

One day, when I went to use Google, my screen reader wouldn’t talk. I tried everything, but no sound. A sighted person told me I had to choose either ‘OK’ or ‘Cancel’. For what?

 

To update to Google Chrome. I was hesitant about updating Google. I was finally feeling comfortable with it and didn’t want anything ‘newer’ or ‘better’. But Google wouldn’t work until I chose. So I chose Cancel to see what happened. It threw me out of Google. So, I went back in and tried OK.

 

While it did update to Google Chrome, this new version was NOT accessible to me.  So now I use MSN as my browser.  Another befuddled giant.

 

Note:

I went back to check on Google. It now has a link to click if you use adaptive equipment. I clicked the link and Google seemed to work, though I didn’t test it extensively. Invigorated, I tried to access my Gmail account. Unable to remember my password, I used the link where you put in your email address and it’s supposed to give you your user name and password. But, I never got that far. At the point where one is supposed to interpret the graphic, I chose the audio option. Nothing happened. After several tries, none of which went anywhere, I gave up, and went back to MSN.com. If you have a link for alternate accessibility, it should work, not just take up space by doing nothing.

 

WORDPRESS.COM (OR WORDPRESS.ORG)

Adaptability, We Did That Once

 

WordPress had, some time ago, a version that was ‘sort of’ compatible with adaptive equipment. Version 2.5. While not totally accessible, adaptive equipment could interact with it enough to: create posts and pages, edit posts, comment on, and delete posts. Not being able to use a mouse, I write and do the majority of the edits in Word and then paste the post into WordPress. This is the least aggravating way for me.  

 

I admit I did NOT set up the linked blogs I use. (In addition to this one there are: BarbaraLBates.com/POLAD (POLAD stands for Passages of Light and Darkness and is where I’ll be posting things about my writing.) and BarbaraLBates.com/LivingForLife, where I plan to post items on the RENS system (Rest, Exercise, Nutrition, And Spirit or Self-actualization). I am, slowly but surely, learning how to use my blogs’ functions.  

 

But, back to the story. After version 2.5, I guess WordPress decided accessibility was only a fad and went back to being glitzy and mouse-friendly and to heck with accessibility. So, this blog is based on version 2.5, even though the latest version is 3.0.1. And it will stay at 2.5 until WordPress gets its head out of the sand and resuscitates accessibility. 

I’m not holding my breath. A giant who’s seen the sun and got scared? Or did WordPress glimpse the yellow orb and decide it didn’t like it?   

 

Let’s face it ADA is a fact not a fad. But as the world’s population ages and more people need a bit extra something (which will probably come under the heading adaptive equipment), perhaps the light will dawn and more sites will become accessible. We can hope. So, to all you ‘big guys’, either make your programs accessible or get out of the race. Maybe you’d do better watching from the sidelines as younger, hungrier companies embrace accessibility.

 

References:

Yahoogroups.com

Google.com

WordPress.org

 

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