[Irl-dean] Accessibility of visual challenge response systems

Paul Walsh, Segala paul at segala.com
Fri Sep 8 11:05:05 IST 2006

This sounds like the Tesco.com story I'm about to tell.  I'm not sure this
has been picked up properly by anyone.

Tesco redesigned their accessible alternative Web site recently. Their news
release stated that Tesco.com can intelligently detect a user's capabilities
and then render the most appropriate skin. This technique happens but only
for blind users who access the site using a screen reader. I haven't tested
the site but I'm confident I'd find more issues.

My gripe doesn't lie within the fact that Tesco has redesigned the
accessible alternative for a second time. I have an issue with this approach
because unless you use a screen reader, or know what the URL is, it's
technically impossible to find the alternative site, let alone access it. 

So, Tesco is purposely providing access only to blind users, and purposely
excluding access to other users. Could this be deemed worse than the
ignorance of a company that just doesn't realise the needs of some people? 

Tesco in my opinion is either being mislead or it is misleading people about
the true extent of their dedication to accessibility.

I keen to hear what you think about this approach. E-Consultancy
(www.e-consultancy.com) asked me to comment on the initial news release but
I decided against it because of the consultants responsible for advising

However I might change my mind in the hope that this method isn't adopted by
anyone else.

Kind regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie
[mailto:irl-dean-admin at list.eeng.dcu.ie] On Behalf Of Barry McMullin
Sent: 08 September 2006 09:41
To: irl-dean at list.eeng.dcu.ie
Cc: mcmullin at eeng.dcu.ie
Subject: Re: [Irl-dean] Accessibility of visual challenge response systems

On Thu, 7 Sep 2006, Laurence Veale wrote:

> I've just blogged on the "Accessibility of visual challenge response
> systems" and am interested in your comments on it.

Hi Guys -

There is a useful W3C resource on this here:


In regard to ticketmaster in Ireland, the situation is much
worse than might appear from Laurence's description.

One can argue over the principle of re-directing visually
impaired uses to a "second class" telephone booking service - but
at least, on the face of it, it suggests that ticketmaster are
aware of the problems of visually impaired users and are trying
to mitigate them.

Except that once you dig further, you find that their system is
completely bizarre and does not work at all.

A friend recently went through this process. When he finally got
through to the special number - which took many attempts - he was
told that this line could *only* be used to book wheelchair
access to the venue. He patiently explained that, last time he
checked, there was actually nothing wrong with his legs, and he
just wanted to book a plain ordinary seat.  But they said that it
was impossible for them to book this - that can only be done over
the web.


Best - Barry.

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