Web Accessibility Is Out To Get You And Make You Feel Sad
Since the landmark Domino’s case, I’ve been having some conversations about web accessibility with people who wouldn’t ordinarily take an interest. Some of these conversations have been productive; others have not. The following is a dramatization based on true events.
DEVELOPER: Alright, lads? So what’s this accessibility thing all about then? Something about pizzas? Love a pizza, me. But no pineapples, haha TRIGGERED. But seriously, it sounds like I might be illegal or something. I don’t want to get fined and lose my second car. What’s the deal?
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE: Hi there. Accessibility is one of the fundamental—
DEVELOPER: Fucking hell, love, speak English much?? This sounds complicated as fuck, Jesus. I’m only one man, I can’t do it all, much as I’d like to.
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE: Well, erm, no. It’s really fairly rudimentary, if you just—
DEVELOPER: TAGS! FUCKING TAGS EVERYWHERE! Fucking mess, it is, with all these tags.
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE: Wait, you mean HTML tags?
DEVELOPER: There were all these tags, right, and then HTML5 comes along. Jesus fuck. And then there were like… 16 MORE FUCKIN TAGS. I can’t remember all that shit. Bad design it is, HTML. Can’t be helped. Would love to, but can’t.
DEVELOPER: *SIGH* Tried, I really did. Gave it my best, but these standards people, these jokers and their tags. Makes it impossible for people like me who’d really really love to just make a GOD DANG accessible website once in a while, you know?
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE: But, wait, a minute ago you didn’t seem to know what accessibility even is? In any case, the Domino’s case sets a legal precedent whereby—
DEVELOPER: LAWS. Do we even need them? Fucked if I know. Take away the laws, and what do you get? Freedom, that’s what. Give me the FREEDOM to make my websites accessible, that’s what I say.
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE #2: You already have the freedom to—
DEVELOPER: Make all my websites just with
<div>s. That’s what I’ll do. That’ll teach the standards bastards to make me not make my websites accessible. Tough love, someone’s gotta do it.
ME: First of all, that doesn’t make sense. Secondly, you’re being an asshole. Just take the time to—
DEVELOPER: GAH!!!! ARRGGHHHHH!!!! NO!! NONONONO!!! PLEASE NO!!! STOP!!!!
PATIENT ACCESSIBILITY ADVOCATE: What’s happening?
ME: I’m not sure.
DEVELOPER: That word. That word you used on me. That “a” word. I… I’ve never… never in my life have I…oh God
ME: You can’t be seri—
DEVELOPER: I was just asking questions, that’s all, *sob*. And you just… went for me. Like I was nothing to you. Can’t you see I’m just a poor wee baby, with pink marshmallows for limbs, and a candy floss heart? Just asking questions, I was. Just asking.
SYCOPHANT #1: GOOD LORD, HEYDON what have you done? He’s dying. You monster, you coward, you husk-of-a-man.
SYCOPHANT #2: And Heydon has “INCLUSIVE DESIGNER” written right there in his bio. And that wasn’t inclusive behavior at all! THE IRONY.
SYCOPHANT #1: Yes, quite, the irony.
SYCOPHANT #14: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #187: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #432: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #43451: Sorry I’m late, I was having a wank. The irony.
SYCOPHANT #199: The irony.
ME: OK, I get that you felt I was being a bit insulting. In any case, accessibility is a civil right and—
DEVELOPER: A BIT INSULTING??
SYCOPHANT #432: YEAH A BIT INSULTING?? (please notice me)
DEVELOPER: You deliberately (and with deliberation, don’t forget) FIRED that word, that seed of evil, into my ear. You, and by extension everyone who has ever worked in web accessibility, is a foul demon sent to torment me, probably. Let’s go with that for now, I might back-pedal a bit later.
ME: Wait, just because I used a bit of strong language doesn’t mean everyone is—
SYCOPHANT #14: These accessibility people are always hating on us and using no-no words! And they think they’re the good guys! You couldn’t make it up!
SYCOPHANT #432: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #199: Indeed, the irony.
SYCOPHANT #1647: Irn Bru.
SYCOPHANT #7384: Shut up, Kyle.
SYCOPHANT #111: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #76: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #88: The irony.
DEVELOPER: All I EVER wanted to do, since I first slid out of my mother and planted my feet into the rich, fertile soil of my homeland, was to make the web (which technically wasn’t invented yet) accessible, so help me God.
DEVELOPER: But then YOU came along. You and YOUR WORD. And now I’m in hospital, on a drip. Do you want to know what’s in that drip, Heydon? Do you? Go on, ask me. Ask me what’s in the fucking drip, Heydon. It’ll fuck with your head.
ME: Well, IV fluid is usually a dilute saline solution with—
DEVELOPER: IT’S MY TEARS, HEYDON. MY FUCKING TEARS. How am I supposed to make the web accessible now, Heydon? How? While I’m in hospital, with my own tears getting pumped into my fucking wrist?
SYCOPHANT #432: FUCKING HELL, HEYDON! BY BEING RUDE THIS ONE TIME TO THIS ONE DUDE WHO CLEARLY HAS AN EARNEST AND LONG-HELD DESIRE TO MAKE THE WEB ACCESSIBLE, YOU HAVE FUCKED EVERYTHING UP.
SYCOPHANT #111: The web is inaccessible, and it’s all Heydon’s fault!
SYCOPHANT #88: And he claims he LIKES web accessibility. The irony!
SYCOPHANT #7116: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #6: The irony.
SYCOPHANT #1957: Fallacy or something.
SYCOPHANT #677: No, I think it’s irony this time.
SYCOPHANT #8836: The irony.
A couple of hours later, in my DMs:
FOLLOWER ABOUT TO UNFOLLOW ME: Hi Heydon. I just wanted to say: I bought and enjoyed all of your books on web accessibility. They taught me so much. But then you called that one guy a no-no word, and I am forced to conclude that you are a shit demon, sent from shitty hell, and covered in shit and stuff. Also, I think you probably catapult dogs into the sea. Good day, sir.