W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-ig@w3.org > July to September 2008

RE: OFF TOPIC - Shame on Google

From: John Foliot <foliot@wats.ca>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 19:59:28 -0700
To: "'Simon Pieters'" <simonp@opera.com>, "'James Craig'" <jcraig@apple.com>
Cc: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <gawds_discuss@yahoogroups.com>, <webaim-forum@list.webaim.org>
Message-ID: <001501c90d71$18fa1d40$461142ab@stanford.edu>

James Craig wrote:
> I can also assure
> you that launching a first version software product can be extremely
> difficult, it is never perfect, and features always end up on the
> cutting room floor.

James, this is not about Chrome [the software], but rather about the
marketing piece developed behind it's release, and the fact that despite the
absolute importance of images having some textual equivalent attached, the
Google marketing department dropped the ball in a very big way.  Larry Page
finished up today's news conference by stating that the Press Release for
Chrome had been written up "at the beginning" of this project, and even if
that was pure hyperbole in action the fact remains that sometime prior to
today *somebody* should have said "...what about text equivalents for these
images?"

> 
> I say this because, while I share your concern for the accessibility
> of all products, your criticism is hardly objective or constructive.

This time is was not meant to be either - it was a pure play "shame on you"
statement, which is one of the reasons why I also labeled the posting as OFF
TOPIC.  I was mad, sad and frustrated, and said so to a community that
shares in a common goal of improved web accessibility - it was not a
technical question or statement, and was not meant to be - it was very much
off topic.

> It not only evokes an aggressive tone that will hinder the probably of
> an honest, open response from the Google developers, it also
> perpetuates the stereotype that accessibility advocates are all
> crotchety jerks that don't understand or give heed the constraints of
> a realistic software development cycle.

Again, do not mistake the product from the marketing push - which is where
my criticism lies.  Google is a big company, an experienced Web player, and
their mighty marketing machine *should* be aware of basic web accessibility
issues - no alt is major; this is no "and until user agents" kind of whoops,
or one unescaped ampersand rendering a page invalid, this is as big as it's
gonna get in terms of missing the point entirely.

No, Google dropped the ball in a very big way here, and if my commentary
comes across as too strident or "nit-picky" then I am sorry, but Google (the
corporate entity) deserves to be shamed here. You mention that I know a
number of people at Google who know and care about accessibility, but this
gaff transcends individuals and speaks to a corporate culture, not only at
Google, but at many large organizations - it's lip-service to accessibility
and disabled rights - how else could something this important be so ignored
when push comes to shove?  While I have not asked the people that I know at
Google, I'm pretty sure they are less than proud of this oversight... I know
that if I worked there and this happened *I* would be embarrassed and mad at
the front office. Even with all the scrambling that Google probably had to
do since the existential leak of the comic over the weekend (including
organizing a Press Release reception earlier today), surely they could have
invested the few hours one developer would need to make this accessible?
The fact that they did not, either intentionally or otherwise is exactly the
point - it was allowed to slip, and it never should have been allowed.

> You personally know *at least* two people at Google that have designed
> and built their own screen readers, and who take a very strong
> interest in making all of Google's products and the web at large more
> accessible.

James, no argument there.  It would have been nice if Chrome had leveraged
the expertise that those individuals have into the first gen browser, and we
may still see that happen in subsequent iterations, but that was not my
complaint today.  From what I can see so far (based upon 20 minutes of
"play") Chrome is an interesting entry into the competitive market of web
browsers, and I noted (via twitter) that I was impressed that Chrome also
passed the Acid 2 test, so kudos to the development team behind the
software.  The marketing department on the other hand...


Meanwhile Simon Pieters wrote:
> 
> Just for fun I created
> http://simon.html5.org/sandbox/html/google-chrome-comic which should
> be accessible, though history navigation doesn't seem to work so well
> (needs pushState or hashchanged I guess). It doesn't work in IE but
> that should be doable.

And you see, this is *exactly* the point... That in an extremely short
period of time *one* person could make this major (or at least highly
significant) marketing tool accessible (and James, I'm sorry but it *is*
[was] part of Google's roll-out plans - they spent real money on this and
engaged Scott McCloud (an internationally renowned cartoonist) to do the
artwork, and had it ready for "web posting" almost immediately, leaving one
to only presume that this was worked on prior to the weekend).  With no
slight to Simon (thank you BTW Simon), there was very little heavy lifting
involved, and was probably not the most taxing challenge he took on today.
Given that Google probably has the original script supplied to Scott
McCloud, we can only surmise that it would have taken a Google web developer
even less time to do what Simon did.  They didn't, and for that I cry "For
shame!"


JF
Received on Wednesday, 3 September 2008 03:00:28 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Tuesday, 19 July 2011 18:14:28 GMT