The Dutch Protest Railway Site Accessible Only with MSIE

The state-owned Dutch Railways created a new Web site for public services in a hurry to accommodate the new Euro currency. Some of the helpful information available at the new site is online national and European train timeables. Unfortunately, they used JavaScript proprietary to Internet Explorer 4.5 and up, blocking countless users from accessing this major public site.

This new site that’s inaccessible to so many users created quite an uproaring. Three developers immediately created a shadow site within only three days using a PHP script to post queries to the railway site and then render "standards-based" results. Users flocked to the new shadow site and placed over 14,000 travel requests within the first 48 hours. According to the Linux Journal’s new article by Brenno J.S.A.A.F. de Winter, Won’t Make Your Web Site Work with Linux? We’ll Do It for You,

"What is really interesting is the fact that consumers sent a strong signal to a large commercial party that they don’t want to be forced into a non-public standard. 'A public service should be available to the majority of the public,' says Wiard Gorter. As the engineer behind another major Dutch web site, he discovered that 20-25% percent of the users are using a Netscape or Mozilla-based browser. He adds, 'We don’t want to have an Internet XP in two years.' "

Gorter and his fellow developers plan to target other public sites with accessibility problems and create more shadow sites, as they found out quickly how important they are and how much the community relies on the availability of accessible sites.

"People who believed that a standards-based Internet was something of the past will clearly have to rethink that opinion."

03:04 pm, pst25 January, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·';}?>

Categories: Accessibility

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