Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Wed

16

JAN

2002

Accessibility Lockout for Olympics 2002 Site—Again?!

After the lawsuit, resulting decision, and huge scandal over the lack of ALT attributes for the Sydney 2000 Olympics site, I had to go see how the Salt Lake 2002 site fares for accessibility. With Opera in hand to easily turn off images, I checked it out. Whew. This time they use ALT attributes on the main page, and most of them have decent description text, with just a few having a pointless "image" for the ALT attributes text. Not bad.

Turning off JavaScript, though, doesn’t fare so well. In fact, it makes the site totally inaccessible, as shown in the screenshot below. Uh-oh. "Javascript must be enabled to view this site" pops onto the screen, and there are no links and no alternative means of entering the site. Unbelievable.

Salt Lake City 2002 screenshot

They could have easily included the NOSCRIPT element with a hyperlink to access the site without JavaScript.

I must admit to being totally shocked that there’s an outright accessibility block like this. Lots of people turn off JavaScript, don’t have JavaScript capability, use screen readers and other alternative viewers. To totally prevent these users from using the site is not only poor form for creating a worldwide site to be accessed by anyone but especially nuts in view of their lawsuit for ALT attributes two years ago.

Unbelievably, though, the above is just the beginning of the story!

I clicked into the Spectator page. Down in the lower left of the Spectator page is this message: "Plug-ins needed for certain content: Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader." Potential uh-oh again if accessible alternatives aren’t provided.

Making note of that, I continued on, clicking the Games Programs link in the navigation. On that page are links to a wide range of programs, including the Paralympic Winter Games. Each of these links, however, are accessible ONLY with JavaScript popup windows (without including hyperlinks within the JavaScript, which is simple to do). As another check, I disabled JavaScript in Opera, then reloaded this page. Guess what?! I got the message again about not being able to access the page without JavaScript. Amazing that I can’t even access the Paralympics information. Unbelievable.

On to the Venues page. The good news is that I could access the page without JavaScript turned on. The bad news is that some of the "Important Venue Spectator Information" is only accessible via downloadable PDF files or JavaScript popup windows, once again blocking or potentially blocking accessibility without JavaScript or without the special plug-ins for screen readers that convert the PDF files to readable text.

To top it off, the Paralympics Venue map is a PDF document that isn’t accessible friendly.

Another factor is that the site is done in frames. Frames can have accessible alternatives with the NOFRAMES element; however, they didn’t use them. When I turned off frames in Opera to try to view this new 2002 Olympics site, there was only a blank white screen with no alternative means to enter the site and no instructions. Nothing.

I suspect I could go from page to page with lots more, and it appears that I’ve only scratched the surface here of some major blunders with their site’s accessibility.

I wonder how long it will take before the you-know-what hits the fan.

Final Thoughts

What bothers me the most is that the developers didn’t make use of the Accessibility Guidelines. I have no problem with sites using frames as long as they also provide accessibility alternatives. And of course I have no problem with JavaScript, with Flash, with PDF files. Appropriate alternatives can be provided to allow anyone in the world to access this major worldwide event that represents most of the world, including the Paralympics for the disabled. This is certainly one site that demands the widest range of accessibility as possible.

Resources

For more information about building accessible sites, in addition to the above links, see also:

Addendum: See Later Follow-ups Here, too:

06:25 am, pst16 January, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Accessibility, Design, Usability

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