Who cares about Web accessibility?

I was at a Web development presentation some time ago. The presenters from certain company talked about many competencies needed for development of complex Web applications, such as knowledge of Web standards, JavaScript toolkits, Java programming, databases, photo editing, etc.

Many things were mentioned, but one important competency was completely omitted: understanding Web accessibility, i.e. making the Web applications accessible to handicapped users. So I asked about that. The answer was that understanding Web accessibility is indeed an important Web development competency but quite difficult and the company’s customers (such as banks, insurance companies, phone operators, media groups) don’t ask for it. So the company doesn’t care about it when making the applications.

I couldn’t find a better response than “Thank you for your answer.”. Is the Web development company to blame? Probably not. They are asked to make applications attractive for most users. The customers don’t care whether the applications are attractive or at least usable for handicapped users as well. Why should the Web development company implement features nobody pays for? Perhaps they can just suggest considering accessibility when negotiating with the customers (which they probably don’t do).

So companies want to invest much money into making their Web portals more attractive for the majority while they don’t care a bit that their portals can’t be used by persons with various disabilities. They exclude those users from common life and make their lives even harder.

Probably only law can fix that discrimination. But if you make Web pages or applications, please don’t forget that there are people who can’t see, who are colorblind, who can’t hear, who have reading problems, who have various motor skill impairments. It’s not easy to live with those handicaps, let’s not make lives of those people even harder by building yet another barriers to them and excluding them from the society.

Turris Omnia router

Turris Omnia is an open hardware & free software high performance home router. You can still get it for a reduced price for a few days if you contribute to its Indiegogo campaign.

I think this is a good deal. Although the router is not cheap, it’s worth the money. There are not many alternatives. And Turris is no vaporware, it’s based on a previous product manufactured for a CZ.NIC security research project.

I’m glad the project is successful and we are going to have high performance, reliable and secure home router designed from start as an open device.

Software Freedom Conservancy needs our help

Software Freedom Conservancy makes useful work for free software. One of their important activities is GPL enforcement. Whether you think the principle “I give you my source code and if you further distribute it, do so under the same conditions you originally received it” is right or wrong, the fact that some organizations care a lot about their proprietary possessions while violating the terms of the free software they use is alarming.

If we tolerate stealing GPLed software, we’ll lose another piece of our freedom. I think this is one of very important reasons to support the Software Freedom Conservancy.

Software Freedom Conservancy is certainly not the only organization working hard to protect our software freedom. I’m aware of at least the following important non-profit organizations doing that:

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Defends our overall digital rights, doing very competent, important and useful work in the areas of freedom and privacy.
Free Software Foundation
Promotes free software and computer user freedom, its GNU project was a free software revolution and we might be locked into proprietary software completely today without the work the FSF has done.
Free Software Foundation Europe
Makes some important, especially lobbying, work for software freedom in Europe. IMHO Europe is the place where the future of our civilization may be saved or given up.
Software Freedom Law Center
The lawyers, providing important services related to free software in the areas of licenses, patents, trademarks, etc.
Software Freedom Conservancy
Provides shelter and services to some free software projects and works on enforcing GPL compliance (e.g. Linux).

In my opinion, all these organizations are very important and need sustainable financial contributions from individuals. They do a lot with little. Not everyone can support them all, but everyone who cares about software freedom and can support at least one of those non-profits should do so.

BTW, (limited number of) the Software Freedom Conservancy supporters who sign up by January 31 will count twice.