[Irl-dean] Irish rail website

Eamon Mag Uidhir eamon at maguidhir.com
Fri Mar 3 18:20:30 GMT 2006

Your rant is entirely justified, Tim.

Shouldn't we all get confrontational with Iarnrod? As they are a pretty 
clear and conspicuous example of what can go wrong when people who don't 
care about accessibility are in charge of resources and facilities that 
are of crucial importance to people with disabilities, particularly 
visual disabilities. Blind people are a very frequent feature of public 
transport in Ireland nowadays, thankfully, but it may be time for the 
sighted public to know just how hard Iarnrod are making it for them to 
take up and use this entitlement. I'm not thinking of the excellent 
station staff I have observed many times ferrying visually impaired 
people and their guide dogs to and from distant platforms on the golf 
cart, but about the smug crowd in the marketing and IT departments who 
seem to imagine there can actually be a higher priority than a customer 
who is completely excluded from access to purchasing information.

By confrontational I mean we could all individually fire off informative 
rants to Iarnrod, to the Minister, and to national news outlets, and do 
some virtual rioting to get attention for the issue.


Tim Culhane wrote:

>Just  to clarify my position regarding Irish Rail I have included the recent
>corresponddance I received from them below:
>Letter from irish rail dated 20th february 2006
>I refer to your letter of 3rd February in connection with the earnrodeireann
>website, www.irishrail.ie. We accept that there are problems with our site
>for vision impaired customers at present.  The main problem is that our
>central journey planning engine cannot coexist on both the irishrail.ie and
>the earnrodeireann.ie websites.  We are very conscious of this shortcoming
>and we are examining ways and means of correcting it. Given the current
>workload of our IT department this may take some time but you can be ensured
>this will receive high priority.  
>yours sincerely
>Melanie McDonagh
>Accessibility officer
>Here are my comments on the above:
>Firstly, I feel that the letter is extremely unsatisfactory and comes close
>to a complete fob off.  What they are saying is that they know there is a
>problem,  and that they might fix it if they could only find the time!
>They specifically state that the problem is due to the fact that the journey
>planning engine cannot coexist on irishrail.ie and iarnrodeireann.ie.
>However,  this claim is obviously  a load of rubbish.
>Iarnrodeireann.ie  has nothing to do with the problem.  Indeed this website
>is only a portal to other CIE company websites such as bus eireann and
>dublin bus.  It is not possible to check train times via this website.
>The problem is that Irish Rail have upgraded their main irishrail.ie website
>and simply haven't bothered to change the text only, or visually impaired
>version of the site.
>It is obvious that these changes have been made without any prior
>consultation with any of Irish Rail's customers whether they be blind or
>fully sighted.  If any basic user testing of the site had been done then it
>would have been clear that it is unuseable.
>Now that Irish Rail have acknowledged that they are well aware of the
>existing problem they should either:
>Pull out all the stops  to rectify the issue (regardless of how busy their
>IT department is).  I'm sure they would do so if sighted people were unable
>to check train times.
>If a solution is not possible  in the short term then roll back to the
>original system,  while this was not perfect it was at least somewhat usable
>by all of Irish Rails customers.
>In the meantime they could then properly develop and test one single
>accessible website.
>Somebody on the list (who's name I can't recall right now and who has done
>work for Irish Rail)  claims that Irish rail are very well aware of their
>legal requirements and are eager to make their services fully accessible.
>Well given my correspondance with Irish Rail to date I've certainly yet to
>be convinced of this fact.
>If irish rail  were planning on overhauling their  website, why didn't they
>take the opportunity at that point of  dumping the text only website and of
>developing one  fully accessible website?
>And now  that they have  gone ahead  and developed a website which is
>actually less accessible than it was in the past,  why are they saying that
>their  IT department is just too busy right now to fix the mess that they
>made themselves?
>Apologies for everybody for the rant,  but if Irish Rail want to portray
>themselves as a company who wish to work with us in developing fully
>inclusive services ...  Then they better start rolling up their sleeves.
>Tim Culhane,
>Critical Path Ireland,
>42-47 Lower Mount Street,
>Dublin 2.
>Direct line: 353-1-2415107
>phone: 353-1-2415000
>Tim.culhane at criticalpath.net
>Critical Path
>a global leader in digital communications
>Irl-dean mailing list
>Irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie

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