I’ve decided to upgrade Metrolinx from a mere Failed Redesign to Failed Redesign of the Year (Nº 1 with a bullet!).

  • When it comes to Web standards and accessibility, they got every single thing wrong. (Even nondisabled people have a hard time figuring out the site.)
  • The site illustrates what happens when the only development tools you use are Microsoft’s. You’ll get everything wrong and you won’t even know it, because everything works just fine in the only browser you’ve ever used, IE6.
  • It’s a government agency with a brand-new Web site launched at the end of the 13th year of the Web.
  • We run the risk of other transit agencies – especially the TTC – viewing the new site as some kind of model.
  • It’s the best candidate yet for a precedent-setting human-rights complaint.

I’ll be tearing the site apart – fur, claw, bone, sinew, and tendon – over a series of upcoming postings. But let’s start with some fun! What does the Metrolinx homepage sound like in a screen reader?

You can listen for yourselves. I had my esteemed colleagues Steve Faulkner and Alastair Campbell produce recordings in Jaws, Window-Eyes, and VoiceOver. The following links lead you to MP3 files, which you may simply download as a 4.6 MB zip archive. We didn’t do very much in the way of customizing the voice options; that could make the results marginally more intelligible, but it could not shine a turd. Rate of speech is as slow as practicable and is about a third to a fifth of the usual speed of an experienced blind person. No, I’m not transcribing these.

We have confirmed that the so-called more-accessible mode does nothing. Its presence is an admission, which may come back to haunt the organization, that the real site is less accessible or not accessible. The fact that the more-accessible mode has no effect demonstrates that no attempt has been made to accommodate persons with disabilities short of undue hardship; worse yet, it establishes a promise of performance that goes unfilled.

Can things get worse for the site? Just you wait.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2007.12.07 13:40. 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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