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  1. #126
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archbob
    How is this any different than a recently migrated immigrant from China sueing a website because it doesn't have a chinese version?
    There are many types of inabilities only a few of which are classified as legal disabilities. In your example you are referring to an inability and trying to compare it to a disability which doesn't hold water. There are times when bilingual notices are required but a consumer focused website would not be one of them. Whether you agree or disagree, this is completely different.
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  2. #127
    Level 8 Chinese guy Archbob's Avatar
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    Yes, I realize the mistake in my logic now.

    But target is a private company, not a government institution. If they are willing to ignore 10% of the population, they lose some profit. Its their choice of how to run a business. Plus, you could just go shop at Wal-mart or something if target doesn't have it. Target itself is quite accessible.

    I am supportive of human rights such as minority rights(being a minority myself), the gay/lesbian rights, etc. But these are rights.

    Shopping at target is not a right in the first place.

  3. #128
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    Yes, they are a private company, but they are serving the public sector. Just because they are privately owned does not mean they can do whatever they want. I own a retail business and there are all kinds of rules and regulations and guidelines that must be followed.

    One of those laws in CA states that if you are going to offer a service, it needs to be accessible to everyone. Accessible-- not available. It's fine to have exclusive programs, buyer's clubs and so forth, but your requirements for accessing such things should not be beyond the physical capabilities of your customers. If they choose not to spend the money on it or not to invest in it, to sign up for it or devote the time to it, that's their choice, but they need to have the choice. When you take away the accessibility of the website, you eliminate the blind user's choice of whether or not to use the service.

    You say that they can choose to go to another website or go to a store in person, but no, they can't choose to do that because it's not a matter of choice at all. The decision is forced upon them by the company who won't make their services accessible.

    It's like hangiing all your products from the ceiling and then not giving the short people ladders and expecting them to be OK with that. Of course they're going to be unhappy, and rightfully so. Why should they have any less of a right to your product than the tall people, simply because they can't reach it?

  4. #129
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archbob
    Shopping at target is not a right in the first place.
    As soon as the company opens its doors to the public, it becomes your right. To disallow the service, store, product, etc. to one group of individuals because of a physical factor that is beyond their control is, intentional or not, discrimination.

  5. #130
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archbob
    Shopping at target is not a right in the first place.
    I'm sorry but decades of legal precident would disagree with you. In the 60's people tried to claim it was their right to decide who to do business with when it came to descriminating against blacks. This argument didn't work then and it wouldn't work now.

    U.S. Federal law may not cover accessiblity on websites, however, apparently California law may cover website accessiblity and Target does have an physical presence in California.
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  6. #131
    Guru Meditation Error gnarly's Avatar
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    Angry

    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    Better accessibility software, which is a more achievable goal than making x,000,000,000 sites accessible, which is not an achievable goal.
    You spanner! The problem is not the accessibility software. The problem is the website developer. Because the lazy, unprofessional web developer failed to put an alt attribute on the images in question, no accessibility software could read the words aloud (no matter how much money you threw at it). Why? Because the data simply isn't there.

    What's going to be more cost effective? Coming up with some sort of advanced AI that can read the text on every image-button, no matter what font it's in, and what background it's set against? Or adding an alt attribute wherever it's needed? Hmmm?
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  7. #132
    SitePoint Evangelist Unit7285's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KelliShaver
    The suing for damages bit, I'm not so sure about. To me that sounds a bit greedy, not something I would do, but on principle, I agree with him.
    If you read the readily available official documents you'll see the case is being brought by (and I'm quoting from the official document received by the court) 'the National Federation of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind of California, on behalf of their members, and Bruce F. Sexton, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated'. The NFB claims 50,000 members across the USA. And 'others similarly situated' means all the legally blind people in California, which must be quite a large number.

    The case is not being brought by Bruce Sexton - he is simply a named plaintiff, one of 50,000 NFB members - so he is not going to walk away with massive sums of cash. It is the NFB which is bringing the case.

    The official court document, as a PDF, is at:
    http://www.dralegal.org/downloads/ca..._complaint.pdf

    The official request for damages is phrased thus: 'Damages in an amount to be determined by proof, including all applicable statutory damages.'

    So 'he' (Bruce Sexton) is not being greedy. He's just the 'human face' of a class action, put out there to make the headlines and draw the abuse and envy of the ignorant to help drum up publicity. It certainly worked in this thread.

    This Sexton guy deserves an apology from anyone who has maligned him in this thread, and in particular from PHP_Penguin who referred to him as 'that f***er'.

  8. #133
    Guru Meditation Error gnarly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce lawson
    If you think that making a website accessible is too difficult, then you evidently are not a professional web developer, as you don't know your trade.
    /cheers loudly. 100% of true.
    Olly Hodgson
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  9. #134
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archbob
    Yes, I realize the mistake in my logic now.

    But target is a private company, not a government institution. If they are willing to ignore 10% of the population, they lose some profit. Its their choice of how to run a business. Plus, you could just go shop at Wal-mart or something if target doesn't have it. Target itself is quite accessible.

    I am supportive of human rights such as minority rights(being a minority myself), the gay/lesbian rights, etc. But these are rights.

    Shopping at target is not a right in the first place.
    Do you think it's OK if Target "ignores" Chinese or <insert other minorities here>, because they are a private business and can run it as they see fit? As KLB said, decades of legal precedents would disagree with you.
    "I disapprove of what I say,
    but I will defend to the death my right to say it."

  10. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnarly
    The problem is the website developer. Because the lazy, unprofessional web developer
    While on the surface adding an alt tag is a trivial matter, consider for a moment we're not talking about a 5 page site. According to Google, there are over 1.4 million pages on target.com.

    It's safe to assume there's a hefty cms behind that site and it could come down to someone literally going through manually editing & saving all of those pages.

    Whether or not it's anyone's fault is questionable, with a site that size it's safe to assume there's pages dating back (to 1996 in fact) before WAI/WCAG became any kind of requirement.

    no accessibility software could read the words aloud (no matter how much money you threw at it). Why? Because the data simply isn't there.
    Google can look at a page and with a fair degree of accuracy determine ads relevant to the content, but accessibility software can't look at a page and make any judgement if an image isn't explicitly self explanatory?

    The assistive software is lacking. There are billions of pages that will never be accessible, pouring so much time, effort and money into making tiny pockets of the internet accessible is a waste.

    October 2005:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2005/TECH/sci...edward.bailey/
    That was more than two-and-a-half years ago, and I still see colors and have vision. The vision, though blurred, is wonderful to have, and I consider myself a very lucky person to have met Mr. Daya and his great team.
    3 years ago doctors fixed his eye with stem cells and a cornea transplant.

    The money thrown in the infinite black hole of 'web accessibility' over the last 3 years could almost certainly have funded more research, and at the least that procedure, being pushed further, maybe to the point where degenerative diseases were fixable, but almost certainly to the point where more people could see.

    I don't mean the money joe webdesigner charges, that's an inconsequential amount looking at it on a site-by-site basis. I mean the money governments & industry watchdogs devote to defining and testing the standards, enforcing them, public awareness, laws and whatever else, and the cumulative total every company in the US & UK has spent thinking revising their html is a solution for disabilities. That's not pennies.

    If I'm a "spanner" for thinking it's better to pour that money into fixing people instead of pages then big deal.

  11. #136
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unit7285
    If you read the readily available official documents you'll see the case is being brought by (and I'm quoting from the official document received by the court) 'the National Federation of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind of California, on behalf of their members, and Bruce F. Sexton, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated'. The NFB claims 50,000 members across the USA. And 'others similarly situated' means all the legally blind people in California, which must be quite a large number.

    The case is not being brought by Bruce Sexton - he is simply a named plaintiff, one of 50,000 NFB members - so he is not going to walk away with massive sums of cash. It is the NFB which is bringing the case.

    The official court document, as a PDF, is at:
    http://www.dralegal.org/downloads/ca..._complaint.pdf

    The official request for damages is phrased thus: 'Damages in an amount to be determined by proof, including all applicable statutory damages.'

    So 'he' (Bruce Sexton) is not being greedy. He's just the 'human face' of a class action, put out there to make the headlines and draw the abuse and envy of the ignorant to help drum up publicity. It certainly worked in this thread.

    This Sexton guy deserves an apology from anyone who has maligned him in this thread, and in particular from PHP_Penguin who referred to him as 'that f***er'.
    That makes more sense, and is reasonable. Admittedly, I had not raed the official court documents, as I haven't had the time to. I agree wholeheartedly wiht the principle of the matter, just wasn't cleared up on the "damages" issue. Thanks.

  12. #137
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy KLB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    Whether or not it's anyone's fault is questionable, with a site that size it's safe to assume there's pages dating back (to 1996 in fact) before WAI/WCAG became any kind of requirement.
    Alt tags were part of the specification from well before that and it use has always been a part of best design practices regardless of WAI/WCAG.
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  13. #138
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    The WCAG specification didn't exist till 1999, and at a glance it doesn't look like WAI existed till 1998. Target's inaccessibility may have beat them by two years.

  14. #139
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    here is the first archive I can find of target.com at waybackmachine.org. There are other pages dating back to 1996 but the first target site appears in 1999
    waybackmachine

    while "fix people versus pages" is obviously the ideal, research progress is incredibly incremental and slow...all the while people wait. Finding a way for folks to contribute and become self-sufficient through enabling technology and access to facilities helps us all not just the affected individual.

    Let's also keep in mind the funding for basic research is not the same as the funding for a retail company's website so it isn't an either/or. We can affect some of the quality of life issues for the disabled and make money and do basic research.

    Target is not a victim. Large companies practice risk management all of the time. legal risk, operational risk, market risk, brand risk etc. An issue like this most definitely went straight to the legal team. I am not sure brand risk was fully considered.

    An enabling technology like the internet helps give folks an entry into society just like it helps break down the halls of power through the spread of information and just like it makes it possible for the little guy to make some money.

  15. #140
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    It's safe to assume there's a hefty cms behind that site and it could come down to someone literally going through manually editing & saving all of those pages.
    rubbish. it's a database driven site, and the data necessary to add even basic alt attributes to the images is readily available in the database.

    Google can look at a page and with a fair degree of accuracy determine ads relevant to the content, but accessibility software can't look at a page and make any judgement if an image isn't explicitly self explanatory?
    google will have the same kind of problem indexing a page with images that have no alt attribute. in this respect, google's spider/indexer is exactly the same as a screen reader's parsing algorythm.

    The assistive software is lacking. There are billions of pages that will never be accessible, pouring so much time, effort and money into making tiny pockets of the internet accessible is a waste.
    bull. the software isn't lacking, it's the developers. what's the software (same as google's, see above) supposed to do when faced with an image lacking alt text? do an artificial intelligence, character recognition, etc job on it? ah yes, computer vision, right around the corner that one...

    The money thrown in the infinite black hole of 'web accessibility' over the last 3 years could almost certainly have funded more research,
    quite obviously money HASN'T been thrown into web accessibility, or we wouldn't see high profile sites still making amateurish mistakes such as omitting the most basic things required to make a site at least baseline accessible (and indexable by search engines, etc)

    and at the least that procedure, being pushed further, maybe to the point where degenerative diseases were fixable, but almost certainly to the point where more people could see.
    we don't need to add alt attributes...you need to undergo experimental invasive surgery to "fix" you. yes, a great point.
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  16. #141
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    The WCAG specification didn't exist till 1999, and at a glance it doesn't look like WAI existed till 1998. Target's inaccessibility may have beat them by two years.
    so you mean that for 7 whole years they didn't have a chance to change their templating? and no, target's site is not hand crafted, but database driven (if you take half a second to look at the url structure, you'd notice).
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  17. #142
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    not to mention that alt text is a basic aspect of SEO as well. If Target has some semi-competant developers on staff they might have figured that one out and missed this lawsuit altogether....

  18. #143
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Ignoring whether they should have to or not, I wonder what Target/Amazon's reasoning is for not making a few changes.

    Is it that they are using a system that has such a convoluted design that alt-tagging images would be prohibitively difficult?

    Is it a matter of principle, a "don't give in to the terrorist demands" sort of thing?

    Is there some business entanglement where no department is willing to take action or share their budget?

    Has someone at Target/Amazon reached a conclusion that there are monetary bandwidth savings worth omitting the tags?

    None of these explanations make sense to me. Has Target/Amazon offered an explanation? Does anyone have an explanation they think is likely?
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  19. #144
    Level 8 Chinese guy Archbob's Avatar
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    Target probably just doesn't see the blind people market as attractive enough to make big changes to their website. What percentage of people in the world are blind? I can tell you its not 10% . And of those people, what percentag is likely to buy a screen reader and actually order things online?

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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    rubbish. it's a database driven site, and the data necessary to add even basic alt attributes to the images is readily available in the database.
    There's more to the site than just products, if it was just a regular ecommerce site I would fully agree with you - add the field to the 2 or 3 sql queries and (barely) change the category and product pages.

    The Target site consists of much more than just products, and when you've got a block of text with an <img> or two in it you can't automate adding the alt tags unless you're going to do something completely and utterly useless and have them blank, or the filename, or something auto-generated and irrelevant, none of which solves the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    google will have the same kind of problem indexing a page with images that have no alt attribute. in this respect, google's spider/indexer is exactly the same as a screen reader's parsing algorythm.
    Every major search engine can determine the context of the page, based on how and what links to it, the pages around it and the site itself. That's not going to help all the time, but at least some of the time it would.

    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    bull. the software isn't lacking, it's the developers. what's the software (same as google's, see above) supposed to do when faced with an image lacking alt text? do an artificial intelligence, character recognition, etc job on it? ah yes, computer vision, right around the corner that one...
    Character recognition is an interesting point to bring up.

    http://www.target.com/gp/browse.html...8&node=1038618

    Nearly all of the 'undescribed images' on that page could be recognized by any free OCR software bundled with a $50 scanner. Why doesn't assistive software do the same? Yeah that must be some web developer's fault for not implementing what is a throw-away freebie on cheap consumables.

    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    quite obviously money HASN'T been thrown into web accessibility, or we wouldn't see high profile sites still making amateurish mistakes such as omitting the most basic things required to make a site at least baseline accessible (and indexable by search engines, etc)
    Like I said, what an individual site has (or has not) spent is irrelevant. Collectively, internationally, governments, organisations and sites have spent significant amounts.

    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    we don't need to add alt attributes...you need to undergo experimental invasive surgery to "fix" you. yes, a great point.
    If the money wasted on making html "a silver bullet" was spent on medical research it might not be experimental anymore.

    3 years is a long time, and that was a successful operation. A billion dollars later it and variations of it will be performable in many hospitals. Too bad html comes first.

  21. #146
    SitePoint Wizard Keriam's Avatar
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    After having read through this immensely, long thread I find a couple of thing interesting. First the California law is actually quite vague as it would apply to a website.

    Individuals with disabilities shall be entitled to
    full and equal access, as other members of the general public, to
    accommodations, advantages, facilities, medical facilities, including
    hospitals, clinics, and physicians' offices, and privileges of all
    common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains,
    motorbuses, streetcars, boats, or any other public conveyances or
    modes of transportation (whether private, public, franchised,
    licensed, contracted, or otherwise provided), telephone facilities,
    adoption agencies, private schools, hotels, lodging places, places of
    public accommodation, amusement, or resort, and other places to
    which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions
    and limitations established by law, or state or federal regulation,
    and applicable alike to all persons.
    I find it interesting that a Minnesota company is being challenged under a California law. Because of the interstate commerce implications and the federal Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, it will most likely land in federal court and federal law will trump state law when it comes to interstate commerce. Since, as has already been pointed out, federal courts have already ruled that the ADA does not apply to websites my feeling is that it will be a shortlived suit. If they really wanted to make a point, why not challenge a California company under California law?
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  22. #147
    SitePoint Addict lveale's Avatar
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    What a response from everyone! Shows what a contentious issue this is. I think in general we are tired of hearing of all the silly litigation that goes on. But this is not silly.

    The web has the capacity to improve people's lives, particularly disabled people. Take a look at the following personas:
    • Can you imagine that because you are blind you have to wait until next week to read today's newspaper or magazines?

    • Can you imagine you are fully abled, but are 60 year's of age and your site has deteriorated by 50%, you have arthritis and can't use a mouse?

    • Can you imagine you are fit young and healthy but break an arm playing Gaelic football or rugby and as a result can't use a mouse?
    The web empowers people in the above situations, they can still get on with their everyday lives regardless of impediments. They can get with reading the news, doing the shopping, booking flights etc.

    But what if, for some reason, a specific website refused to serve these personas?
    Why would it choose to do so? I don't think any organisation would choose it, but it happened and there is no excuse.
    The blame could ilie with the client who did not know what to ask for but the responsibility lies with the team that put the site together.
    They didn't know their craft.

    It's akin to a builder not knowing building regulations.

    The authoring tools are available, the guidelines are in black and white. There's no excuse any more.

    If you fail to make a website accessible in this day and age, then you are at best lazy, at worst negligent. But rather than get into that, there's a real opportunity here for web designers.

    From the business point of view, there's the opportunity to increase sales for your client. From the visitors' point of view, you have an even greater opportunity: to improve their lives. It's that simple, you can easily improve the quality of people's lives. You can make it easier for them to get their shopping done, easier for them to read news, or take a holiday. You have tremendous power to change people's world.

    Is it not worth the effort?

  23. #148
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia
    Because blind people can use computers too, and it can be a great help to them in being able to function as a normal human being.
    Although I agree accessibility is best, I don't think you should be able to force a "free enterprise" into catering to everyone.

    Legally blind in the US doesn't mean pitch black, and although some blind need to use screen readers, some do not. My mother became "legally blind" as a part of diabetes but could watch TV (admittedly very close to the screen), go shopping (brick & mortar), and do near all the things a sighted person can do on her own.

    Although she knew braille, she was able to read large text and even smaller text with the help of a special magnifying glass.

    I also worked for a couple once, the man who was legally blind and was a teacher at an academy for the blind. At another time I sold a house to a legally blind couple, the man in this couple worked at radio shack and the woman was a teacher at the blind academy.

    In each case, these people could see when using some type of visual aid.

    My point - every business makes improvements based on profit. I don't know the percentage of computer users who use screen readers, but I'm betting it's quite small and I bet Target not only has that information, but how it relates to the percentage of legally blind people.

    Although I empathize with the blind who can't use their site, I can also see that it may not be to Target's advantage to redevelop their whole web site for a very small percentage of their market.
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  24. #149
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    I think "redevelop their whole web site" is a HUGE exaggeration.
    "I disapprove of what I say,
    but I will defend to the death my right to say it."

  25. #150
    Guru Meditation Error gnarly's Avatar
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    Angry

    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    While on the surface adding an alt tag is a trivial matter, consider for a moment we're not talking about a 5 page site. According to Google, there are over 1.4 million pages on target.com.

    It's safe to assume there's a hefty cms behind that site and it could come down to someone literally going through manually editing & saving all of those pages.
    I'm not talking about changing every image on every page - loads of them are purely there for decoration and carry no semantic meaning. I'm talking about adding alternate content to code output by the CMS - image-buttons on forms, that sort of thing. The sorts of things the CMS outputs for every page on the entire website.

    Even if you add alt text for every image going forward from now, that's a good step forward, isn't it?

    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    Google can look at a page and with a fair degree of accuracy determine ads relevant to the content, but accessibility software can't look at a page and make any judgement if an image isn't explicitly self explanatory?
    Google looks at the plain text on a page and decides using that. It doesn't (as far as I'm aware) try to decipher image content.

    We're talking about the case where there isn't any plain text. There's no textual data. Nothing. Nada. Not a sausage. Just a (heavily compressed / optimised) bitmap image. No text at all.

    See the problem with trying to read that aloud now? I'm told that some advanced software can have a good go at this now, but they're never going to get it right all of the time. Why not just add one attribute to say what a sighted user can see?

    You're not just helping the disabled here either. What about mobile users (and any other users on really slow connections) who've switched image rendering off? It probably means a change to the CMS, not a change to 1.4 million pages.

    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    3 years ago doctors fixed his eye with stem cells and a cornea transplant.
    That is a hugely impressive feat. Amazing. But what about the millions of people who will never have access to such expensive surgery (at least in the next few decades)?

    Quote Originally Posted by benlowry
    If I'm a "spanner" for thinking it's better to pour that money into fixing people instead of pages then big deal.
    No, that's not what makes you a spanner. You're a spanner for the whole "the internet is irreversibly broken, lets not bother trying to fix it" attitude.

    Right now, the web is in a terrible state, but the hope is that going forward, we can try to fix old websites as best we can, and build new ones according to the best practise guidelines laid down by the governments and industry bodies - so that the web will be a more accessible place for everybody.

    I really can't see what the problem is with this. It's really not very difficult to do.

    Or are you too much of a dinosaur to learn anything new?
    Olly Hodgson
    thinkdrastic.net


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