Hurricane relief for Windows/IE users only

(Via Ars Technica) While the United States has strict regulations in place for the accessibility of publicly-funded websites, those regulations apparently don’t concern the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), responsible for current disaster management efforts in New Orleans. Not only does its individual assistance registration site require JavaScript to work, but it will also only work in the Internet Explorer for Windows browser.

When attempting to sign up for registration in Firefox or other Mozilla-based browsers, users must pass a CAPTCHA test, and then receive this message:

In order to use this site, you must have JavaScript Enabled and Internet Explorer version 6.
Download it from Microsoft or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to register.

On Opera 8 for Windows, which masquerades as Internet Explorer by default, the CAPTCHA test doesn’t even work.

FEMA claims that the system was originally developed for in-house use only, and is working on a replacement system that will accomodate all popular browsers. This just goes to show, however that developers should embrace best practices wherever possible, even when building applications for limited deployment.

In the meantime, Macintosh users will have to brave the phone hotlines and aid workers will have to keep fitting out onsite kiosks with expensive and time-consuming Windows XP SP2 installations, all to accomodate a site that uses browser-specific JavaScript when accessible design with little or no scripting could have done the same job. Someone should Greasemonkey the site, just to drive the point home.

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  • WarpNacelle

    …. I understand your point. Believe me I do! But c’mon – there are hundreds of other legitimate sites you can donate through. Amazon just to name one.

  • Ben

    This site is not for donating, but for victoms who want to register for federal assistance.

  • WarpNacelle

    Ah, my bad …. BOO FEMA!!!

  • http://www.chameleon-systems.com csi95

    FEMA is really taking it on the chin as a result of their actions during this crisis. They’re a mess.

    On a related note, my wife and I tried to donate to the Red Cross after the Tsunami disaster a few months back. We were unable to do so in Firefox. I finally had to fire up IE in order to make a donation.

    You would think these folks would address things like this. It’s really unprofessional.

  • http://millerwebstudios.com ChrisMiller

    This site is not for donating, but for victoms who want to register for federal assistance.

    What i dotn get is if its to register if your a victim how are they going to do it without a PC, and lets not forget no internet access, no phone lines, and best of all no power. I really dont get the point of having that then.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ Kevin Yank

    What i dotn get is if its to register if your a victim how are they going to do it without a PC, and lets not forget no internet access, no phone lines, and best of all no power. I really dont get the point of having that then.

    Reportedly, the site is being used by computer kiosks that aid workers have set up at disaster management hubs. Ideally, they’d like to set these kiosks up with free, lightweight Linux installations, but because it requires IE6 they are having to shell out the cash and spend the time to install and configure installations of Windows XP SP2 on these kiosks.

  • malikyte

    I’ve read somewhere that the phone number that FEMA provides just lets you give an address to where a package should be sent. Even though the US Postal Service’s old stand-by motto was something like “Not sleet nor rain, nor snow nor hail…” will prevent them from delivering the mail, I highly doubt they’re still working down there (especially since some mailboxes are still under water).

    So then, if you can’t use the website, and you can’t get the snail-mail package to fill out the voucher information, how do you get aid? It’s like the tootsie-pop commercial: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Tootsie pop? “The world may never know.”

  • Justin Kozuch

    What i dotn get is if its to register if your a victim how are they going to do it without a PC, and lets not forget no internet access, no phone lines, and best of all no power. I really dont get the point of having that then.

    Last time I checked, the US was comprised of other states besides Louisiana, Missisippi and Florida. There are plenty of Katrina survivors in California, 10,000 of them from reports I’ve read. I’m sure there is electrical power/computers/internet there.