…from ZDNet (q.v.), in this case an entry entitled “Why a landmark court case could force you to redo your whole Web site.” If we excuse for the moment writer David Berlind’s self-aggrandizement (“I contribute to one of the most popular Web sites in the world”), we are nonetheless unable to excuse a few factual errors.

  1. Adding a title attribute to a link is not “alternative text,” a concept that applies to images. He seems to think that the tooltip a browser provides for that title text is the make-or-break detail for accessibility. It isn’t. It contributes to the accessibility of the link, but the link either works (it sends you to the author’s intended page) or it doesn’t. (And at this point, Steve Faulkner jumps into the conversation.) Since so very much of the posting relies on this falsehood (four full grafs), Berlind may wish to clear it up right away.
  2. What if Web accessibility were required by law? “Given the state of the state of technology [sic] (tools, Web 2.0), the Web, technologically speaking, simply isn’t equipped to make compliance with such a precedent law possible.” How is it not possible, Berlind? Even Basecamp works OK in screen readers, and a simple E-commerce site like Target is not conceptually difficult to fix. (Years of shitty code and an ongoing rejection of any developer responsibility may make Target a tangled rat’s nest to actually fix, but it is conceptually straightforward.)
  3. “If Target wants to turn its back on an important customer segment, that’s Target’s problem (and business decision). Not the court’s.” Except when that business decision is predicated on illegal discrimination on the basis of disability. It’s a bit late in the day to advocate an unfettered free market of discrimination.
  4. “When I told [Dan Gillmor] about the story, he asked if all the items sold in physical stores are marked with Braille. Precedent set.Bullshit shovelled. To make a physical object accessible, you must alter its configuration or create a separate object. Electronic media like Web sites can be intrinsically accessible.

Neither Gillmor nor Berlind is an expert on any of these topics, but, by virtue of “contribut[ing] to one of the most popular Web sites in the world,” Berlind does an efficient job of spreading misinformation.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.06.12 13:05. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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