We’re bad at a lot of things, among them graphic design and Web development. And the latter remains true at the highest levels, as in the case of a recent job opening at Pride Toronto.

I wouldn’t bother trying to find the job listing on the homepage, as it opens in a popup window. That is merely one of a dozen problems with the homepage, including:

  • Tables for layout (13 of them)
  • Images without alt text (about 86 – I gave up counting)
  • Spacer GIFs, given as <td bgcolor="#ffffff" width="5"><img src="images_shared/spacer.gif" width="5" height="1" border="0" alt=""></td>
  • Insane graphics-based toolbars
  • Invalid HTML (104 errors) and CSS (two)

I wrote in and asked them why their job description said nothing whatsoever about Web standards and accessibility. I received befuddled responses from an intern. Lo and behold, a few days later I received a befuddled snatchmail from that intern claiming the job requirements had been updated. Such updated requirements for a Web job were helpfully attached as a Microsoft Word file and included (all entries sic):

  • At least 2+ years of experience in web design, development and programming
  • University Degree in Computer Science or equivalent
  • Fluency in advanced HTML/DHTML/XML, CSS and JavaScript
  • Experience with Object oriented analysis and design
  • Familiarity with AJAX technologies an asset
  • Knowledge of Flash/Action script
  • Development of transactional applications using LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PERL/PHP) & Java
  • Previous experience building easy to understand user interfaces for customer facing applications an asset.
  • Experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Access, Excel
  • Not-for profit experience an asset
  • Creative, out of the box thinker

Anyone with that kind of knowledge – to the extent that the requirements are redundant or cancel each other out – should be running the Web team at a multinational corporation, not sitting there taking orders from dysfunctional queers.

Oh, and here’s the killer:

It is imperative that any candidate applying for this position have the ability to understand and work with existing code on the current Web site

What’s actually imperative is throwing out the entire system and starting from scratch.

When offering reasons to provide accessibility, I always leave until last the possibility of a human-rights complaint or lawsuit. I’m usually in favour of those only when dealing with large organizations or those that should otherwise be clueful, including government sites. However, why not file a human-rights complaint against Pride Toronto for their inaccessible Web site? After all, they voluntarily provided evidence that it is imperative to the organization that any revised site remain inaccessible.

I know that the pride committee is infamous for its ineptitude and nepotism, and I also know that we are generally lousy at the Web, but this is one case where two wrongs assuredly do not make a right.

This could just be my imagination, but is Pride Toronto, up to and including its executive level, utterly mystified by what I’m talking about and, moreover, completely unable to explain the difference between their existing site and a standards-compliant and accessible site? (Can they point to one thing that has to be changed that I have not mentioned here? Can they explain any single thing I have mentioned in their own words?)

An organization so committed to diversity – they hire a boy and a girl to run the place jointly – could not possibly be this incompetent, could they?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.09.15 13:30. 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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None. I quit.

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