[LINK] ABC Mobile Web Site Failed Accessibility Test
Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Sun Mar 22 11:45:09 EST 2009
At 10:21 AM 20/03/2009, George Bray wrote:
>... Tom, I think it's fair enough for you to pull up the ABC on their
>accessibility work ... they take the issue seriously ...
Okay, perhaps I was a little hard on the ABC. I am not so harsh with
commercial media organisations, because I do not expect much of them.
>I don't agree, however, that innovative media groups like the ABC
>should curtail their exploration of delivery on new devices using
>new software for the sake of getting it 100% right for every browser ...
I suggest the ABC should do what they can to provide a service
accessible to people with a disability. Given that the law requires
them to do this, it does not seem a lot to ask. The techniques to do
this are well known, not hard to implement and should help delivery
for new devices.
Given that the front page of the ABC mobile web site had a very
obvious accessibility flaw, it would be prudent for the ABC to now
check the rest of the site. The "you complain and then we will fix
it" approach does not seem sufficient to me and probably is unlawful.
There is no similar legal obligation for the ABC to make its mobile
service widely available, but it seems a good business strategy not
to limit it the service to just iPhones and Android devices. If they
were to follow the W3C's recommendations for the design of mobile
web pages, that would make the service more widely available.
>I can bet they've had a few spectacular failures too, but I submit
>that this should not stifle them in their quest for pushing the
>envelope of media delivery. ...
The ABC needs to balance innovation with reliable information
delivery. They are not simply reporting the news, or providing
entertainment. The ABC seems to be taking the same ad-hoc approach to
providing emergency information as they have to accessibility. As a
result the "spectacular failure" could result in mass casualties and
the ABC staff involved can expect to be answering questions in court.
The inquiry into the Canberra 2003 bushfires reported a 45 minute
delay between when the authorities issued an instruction and the ABC
sounding the Standard Emergency Warning Signal.
A similar problem with a tsunami warning could result in tens of
As an example of what can go wrong, the Pacific Tsunami Warning
Center (PTWC) issued a warning 19 March 2009 after a magnitude 7.7
earthquake near Tonga. While the text based warning messages worked
as planned, there were problems with the HTML versions not
displaying. NOAA have been working on advanced ways to display the
warnings. But as with the ABC, I think they should get the basics
right first. See:
An example of what to do is the new Marmaray rail tunnel linking the
European and Asian parts of Istanbul. The train control centre will
receive earthquake information directly from the Kandilli Early
Warning System. They are not going to depend on someone sending a
If the ABC is unable, or unwilling, to plan an effective emergency
service, the Australian Government could reduce ABC funding and use
the money to implement something like the US Emergency Alert System
(EAS). But I do not think that is a good idea:
Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617 http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University
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