Thursday, January 26, 2006

Expense By the Many, For The Benefit of the Few.

I care about how my readers feel about my blog and anything associated with it. I was given some interesting feedback concerning true screen reader accessibility. The only way I can keep comments on this blog truly accessible for screen readers is to remove all restrictions and use comment moderation, to block the avalanche of unwanted spam. At first I laughed, then mocked and finally balked.

Why should I have to go to all that extra trouble for a small fraction of my audience? What's the big deal, as a Macintosh user (by my choice), I'm blocked from some web content. No blind person "chooses" their condition. I then turned to God for guidance: what would Jesus do? He'd make the sacrifice, but I comforted myself with the whine: I'm not Him! I also spoke to several leaders within the blind community and was shocked at the depth of their passion. I now have respect for the self control political people have to use. I ranted to a trusted friend, only to discover I was tromping on what he considered to be his "life mission" (oops). He made it okay for us to disagree, which has made it easier for me to seriously reconsider my position. Compare this to what a close friend hit me with.

She was completely disgusted with me and sighed: "oh, man, you just don't get it". All that comment accomplished was to make me angry. I tend to flirt with self righteousness when angry. So, ha-za to the politically minded among us. I am finding a new reaction: respect.

I have taken some serious time to consider this access problem and my duty as a person, a blogger, an inventor / business person and as a member of society. I will remove all restrictions on comments, but will moderate them, to block spam. I realize this is part of my duty to my fellow blind. It was pointed out to me, somewhat harshly, that if I needed a screen reader, I'd learn how to use one. (That was a deserved observation). It is part of my duty as a member of this society. We routinely require (by law) businesses and communities to incur additional expense to benefit people with various disabilities. That expense is spread out over a large number of people to benefit a small, but involuntary minority. As a person I intend to work for the eventual betterment of accessibility. Where do I get off with such a lofty ideal when my "right now" behavior perpetuates the problem? For me the expense isn't financial, but in terms of time, So what? When I figure out that I'm wrong, I am willing to change and "wake up and smell the coffee".

So, now that I'm completely accessible, I hope my work is worthy of your time to read and comment upon.

No comments: