Monthly Archives: December 2009

Good wishes for Christmas and 2010

Thank you to everyone who has followed my blog and commented over the past year. It has certainly been a busy, eventful and sometimes difficult one. I hope that, like me, you are able to take a break and do some things you really enjoy with some people you love being with.

May you all have a very happy Christmas and a safe and restful break. Of course not everyone celebrates Christmas. To those who don’t you have my good wishes.

The New Year will bring new challenges and opportunities for all of us. I have some new and informative posts planned so do return next year.

Ka kite ano

Red Pohutukawa flower from the New Zealand Christmas tree.

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Filed under Miscellaneous

Social media equals social action

Recent widespread outraged reaction over Paul Henry’s gratuitously insulting language on the Breakfast Show is an indication of the role social media is playing in establishing strong national disability networks. The response from across disability groups also shows that the silos between different impairment types are beginning to break down, which can only be a good thing.

Paul Henry, and perhaps also TVNZ clearly had no grasp of the effect that so many disabled people and their supporters being connected online would have. Facebook was running hot and hectic, with pages I thought too extreme to join. Feathers were ruffled on Twitter, even among people who had no connection with disability. Various blogs of excellent quality debated the issues raised.

Because organisations like the Human Rights Commission and Broadcasting Standards Authority have online complaint forms, making complaints has become easier, with guidance on the way to frame them being readily available. Henry thought that IHC had it in for him, but it wasn’t just IHC. A whole range of disabled people and organisations took up the cause of a popular figure and a group of people who have little access to the media to fight back.

This is not the first time such campaigns have been conducted. Back in the nineties, before social media were invented, an international sports-shoe maker created an advertisement extremely insulting and offensive to disabled people. Within a very short time international networks had distributed the email addresses of advertising and other executives. This resulted in a flood of emails making it very clear that the shoe-buying dollar would be spent elsewhere. The advertisement was withdrawn and individual apologies emailed.

Establishing a new social action group on an issue previously hidden and not discussed has also benefited from social media and online connectedness,

This combination has meant the Disability Clothesline has been able to establish a national project quickly, and begin debating the issues of violence towards and abuse of disabled people in a way that would have been impossible even a few years ago before there was a critical mass of disabled people online

Such actions and campaigns can only become more sophisticated and organised. Watch this space.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Information Accessibility, Media

Metservice NZ web accessibility review

In a city where you can and frequently do have all four seasons in eight hours the weather web site is regular viewing for those of us who can’t drive and therefore walk to work (and most other places.) We need to make critical decisions like: head to toe raincoat with hood or windproof jacket and woolly hat and scarf,  shoes, sandals or weather proof boots, sunnies or not. And that’s just the outerwear.

Then there’s the issue if whether or not you need your merino vest and long johns.

I am not talking about mid winter either. A few days ago I sat next to a young woman on the bus who was wearing woolly gloves! I was envious of her comfort.

The Terrace, where I live and work in Wellington is a wind tunnel, and since it is almost always a southerly or northerly here the decision on wearing dangling or stud earrings may have health and safety consequences.

That’s why I was interested to try the beta version, now live, of the Metservice web site, where I am a regular visitor. The old site left a great deal to be desired in terms of accessibility. Sadly, although there are some improvements, so does the new.

I gave feedback as invited. I even phoned them. The person I spoke to had obviously never heard of web standards or accessibility, and admitted they were not included in the design brief.

Accessibility issues are not being addressed according to the feedback blog post, except they took down or renamed the page called About Accessibility which had information about different browsers but did not mention accessibility or have any content relevant to accessibility.

A few quick observations:

  • The new site is still quite busy and cluttered. You need good hand eye coordination to read the ten day forecast on the city page.
  • I suspect it won’t work well without broadband.
  • Some features seem to rely on mouse hovering only.
  • While the site enlarges reasonably I lose information on the right hand side of the page at a certain point. On further investigation I discovered that the information is the weather warnings!
  • There is no accessibility statement.
  • And the text is grey, which means I have to enlarge it more to make it readable. Grey text is pretty but unreadable, especially on the blog.
  • Colour Contrast on the maps is also not good.

Why is it that sites which provide important and most useful public information are sometimes the least willing to do it properly? If people are finding the site difficult to use I suggest they ring Metservice and ask them to read the information they want from the site to them, or email them and ask for a plain test version of the information they need. It might be the only way to get the message across.


Filed under Disability Rights, Information Accessibility, Web Accessibility