More: Olympics Site Accessibility Issues
The New York Times has a new article, Love Letters, One-Hit Wonders and Sites Unseen that covers the Olympics site accessibility issue I recently wrote about here. The New York Times interviewed me, WebReference’s Andy King, and Perkins Miller, the Internet director for the organizing committee for the Salt Lake City games. I ring The NY Times praises for accurately quoting what I’d told them; however, the accessibility issues that Miller states have been resolved have really NOT been resolved to make the site accessible:
Handhelds Blocked, Too
In my continued explorations of the Olympics site accessibility, I used Avantgo with my Handspring Visor to access the popular Olympics site today. Once again I was redirected to the same text links of MSNBC Olympics news stories. As I mentioned before, that wouldn’t help much if I was trying to check out schedules, maps, and the abundance of other information available at the Olympics site.
The Point Here
So what’s my point with all this? Due to its worldwide needs, the Olympics site requires widespread access, regardless of abilities or disabilities. As I’ve mentioned previously, they were sued for accessibility problems with their Sydney 2000 site, and I’d originally hoped that they’d gained an awareness of the accessibility needs for the Salt Lake 2002 site. While they included the
ALT attributes and descriptions this time (they were sued for not including them for the Sydney 2000 site), there are other critical elements that are of equal importance that I’ve previously covered.
My Interview with the New York Times
Here is the e-mail interview that I had last week with New York Times reporter Pamela L. O'Connell:
NYT: Are you referring not just to alternative browsers but to things such as screen readers that the blind might use, for example?
SK: Yes, exactly. Screen readers, voice readers, braille browsers, as well as other devices such as handhelds and cell phones, too, all rely on text.
See also the Web Standards Project’s comments about Accessibility and alternative devices.
(And by the way, I’m also on the Web Standards Project’s Steering Committee, but my Olympics 2002 article and my comments here are solely my own and NOT at all on behalf of WaSP.)
NYT: Can you define the difference between usability (which seems to me somewhat subjective) and accessibility (which seems a more objective matter)?
SK: I see good usability as being a friendly, logical, easy-to-navigate and easy-to-access approach to a site. Users should have no trouble accessing a site, finding what they need easily, opening pages quickly, and accessing whatever information available at the site.
Accessibility means wide user access, in my opinion. While the needs of any one site may vary, a site like the 2002 Olympics site has the widest accessibility needs because of its world-encompassing audience and should therefore be built using the W3C’s Accessibility Guidelines and not excluding users as it so blatantly does now.
Accessibility is a part of usability, and usability is also a part of accessibility. As you may know, there are specific Accessibility Guidelines, recommendations via the W3C. They are simple enough to implement when a site is being designed and require minimal effort. So it is especially disconcerting to see a major site like the Olympics 2002 site not including alternate access via the
NOFRAMEStags. (In other words, it’s fine to use these technologies, but please use the alternate tags to allow users to access the site’s information whether or not they can use these technologies.)
According to The Usability Company:
The official definition of Usability according to the ISO is:
The effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which specified users achieve specified goals in particular environments
"Usability is the science of improving screen technology to the maximum benefit of user and owner."
If you are looking for more sources, feel free to check out the resources at my other site, WebsiteTips.com, where you’ll find annotated links on accessibility and usability.