We just received and verified some extremely disturbing news on the inaccessibility front. It seems Amazon.com has given the blind a rather unwelcome present for the Holiday Season in the form of yet another of the ever increasing “No Blind People Allowed” signs. Blind users of the JAWS screen reader developed by Freedom Scientific, the most widely used screen reader in the world, are apparently no longer allowed to perform essential shopping tasks such as reviewing product information on the web site. Though Amazon does offer a separate accessibility site, it provides a level of functionality that is far, far inferior to that found on their home page.

The letter below, provided by a highly competent user of the JAWS screen reader, serves to illustrate the difficulties. It is absolutely critical that everyone who is blind or cares about what happens to the blind write Amazon concerning this matter, asking and insisting that they work with the blind community to correct the situation promptly. Make no mistake, this issue and others like it are not simply “frustrations” but are serious, often intractible challenges to our ability to participate in society. Inaccessibility in an online store is tantamount to walking into a brick-and-mortar store and being told to get lost because you are of the wrong ethnicity. The currently imposed state of affairs represents an example of yet another “No Blind People Allowed” sign we must challenge at every possible opportunity.

Hi folks

From the looks of things here, Amazon.com, one of my favorite sites on the net, no longer works with JAWS 7.0. You click on a link to take you to the information page for a specific product, but instead you are taken to a page to buy a gift certificate. From what I’m told, they made some kind of visual change to the site using javascript. It looks more visually pleasing, but JAWS doesn’t display the page properly. so you press enter on a link thinking you’ll land on one thing but you land on another. So I’m going to call the customer service line on Monday because even i, a pretty compident JAWS user, couldn’t find the contact us link. Well, i found the link but not the right page. Really frustrating. If anyone else has had a similar problem, or if you give the site a try and experience the same problem, I’d like to know. This way i’ll have as much information as possible when I make my call.