Not watching the Olympics

A subscriber on the BlindCanadians mailing list (identity withheld, though it’s hardly a state secret) writes:

Has anyone tried to access [usage as a verb sicEd.] the CBC’s Web site on the Olympics? I keep entering on buttons, and not getting anything I’m looking for.

I’m disappointed that none of the boxing or wrestling bouts, or the field-hockey matches involving Canada, have been covered.

What’s even more frustrating, though, is that every time I try to access some of the information, I keep hearing stuff like what the current weather is in Beijing. I’ve tried to E-mail comments, but every time I enter on the link, guess what I get instead of the E-mail field? Yep, the current Beijing weather. I sure as heck hope that their coverage of the Paralympics is more accessible.

Paging Blake Crosby. I surmise the root cause is the simple fact that not a single working Web developer in the country has any understanding of the Flash accessibility requirements. Nobody anywhere does, save for Niqui Merret, now issuing an all-hands call. (I met her once or twice.)

Plus CBC Olympix is an overly complex interface with dynamically-generated menus. The On-Demand Video page is almost valid HTML, but completely unusable unless you have exactly the right equipment and functioning body parts CBC expects you to have. This is what happens when you build good bones (HTML) and juice muscles with steroids (Flash).

Of course the site isn’t going to be accessible. It’s built not to be.

4 comments:

  1. Fake Ouimet
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 8:40 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Kev, I just double-checked. The list of sports (horizontally-scrolling sequence of pictographs) is in fact HTML+JS. But at the On Demand page, I believe I was referring to the Choose a Category: column as being Flash. Unless it’s a document.write() of some sort that I cannot figure out just from the source code. Don’t make me break out my DOM Inspector!

    Anyway, if it’s any consolation, after not blowing it for Athens, the Beijing Olympics main site is apparently a dog’s breakfast for accessibility. I am trying to care a bit less about this issue, but old habits die hard.

  2. Kev
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 8:11 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There are no navigational Flash elements (that I know of) on the Olympics site. Flash is pretty much confined to the on-demand video player, that stats widget (which is meant for external use, Facebook and the like), and the explainers for individual sports, which are glorified animated gifs. Feel free to correct me if I’ve missed anything.

    You may be confused by that dorky scrolling sports menu in the header – but it’s done in HTML/javascript, and with styles and javascript disabled it degrades to a standard HTML list.

    There are definitely accessibility issues with the site though, and I have no idea what the Paralympics coverage will look like (but am not very hopeful), so keep beating the drum.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted August 20, 2008 at 7:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    The Olympics website was not created/produced by CBC employees.

    Still, not an excuse to not make it accessible.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted August 19, 2008 at 11:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    You object to “access” as a verb, but not “none” used as a plural?


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