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Straightforward Example of the Selfishness and Poor Attitudes We Must Defeat

July 22, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

The following comment was cowardly posted to the journal under a cloke of anonymity.

I completely disagree with you. Blogs are essentially private domain, and the use of them in any capacity is a privilege that is extended by the owner to visitors. Your assertion that someone has to spend more time and energy into generating blind-friendly CAPTCHAs is selfish. It is hard enough to stay 1 step ahead of the spammers without having to cater to the needs of a relatively small subset of users. It is unfortunate that you are blind, and in many places the law forces businesses to provide for your special needs. This requirement causes enough problems and extra costs in the real world, the last thing we need is it bogging down innovation in the internet so that the other 99% of us have to deal with more spam so you feel included.

I just have a couple of questions… In the era of segregation, business owners were afraid they would lose their white customers if they permitted African-Americans to eat in their restaurants and shop in their stores. They did not want to accomodate African-Americans for business reasons. Are you saying that it was wrong for the government to finally pass laws making segregation illegal? Also, if you had a spouse, brother, sister, relative or close friend who was blind or visually impaired, would you really want to see their needs treated in the cavalier├é┬ámanner in which you suggest?

Categories: accessibility, opinion

6 opinions on “Straightforward Example of the Selfishness and Poor Attitudes We Must Defeat

  1. I am not African-American, but I find your repeated comparison of the inconvenience experienced by blind people to the true hardships faced by African-Americans to be offensive, thoughtless, and insensitive. At most, what we lose is some productivity. The horrors faced by a group of people due to the color of their skin far, far, far outweighed this. You are belittling the ordeals of these people, and it is unjust.

  2. The exclusion we suffer as the result of inaccessible CAPTCHAs is exactly the same kind of outright exclusion suffered by African-Americans. You just said you’re not African-American. Neither am I. That means neither of us really does know what life is like for that population, although I do fully believe in equal human rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race or disability. We are blind, however. Our accessibility needs are no more or less important. It isn’t just a matter of “productivity” (which, BTW, is also important) but simply a matter of equal and fair access. I have simply compared our situation with CAPTCHA with another well-known example of exclusion. Doing so does not belittle African-Americans or anyone else. It is simply a comparison so that everyone, especially those who are not blind, can be made to understand the way in which the current state of affairs represents exclusion without having to understand all the technical details.

  3. Well, the next time blind people are lynched, raped, tortured, robbed, or publicly ridiculed because of our blindness, we’ll talk.

  4. Bruce,

    Are you saying that you don’t care about accessibility issues because they don’t represent physical crimes against us? Wow! That’s a rather limited view, don’t you think? The loss of opportunities to participate caused by inaccessibility are also traumatic to blind people. You wouldn’t be so soft on these issues if Social Security checks didn’t exist. Social Security provides people with disabilities a false sense of security, since it gives us a safety net on which we can fall back when inaccessibility and other factors keep us out of the workplace. How would you feel about access issues if they kept you from being employable, and no Social Security or similar welfare programs existed? Blind people would then be homeless and out on the streets! If that happened, many blind people would be lynched, raped, robbed and public ridiculed. Social Security checks are an artificial safety net, my friends, which I predict will ultimately go away at some point in the future!

  5. Wow! In response to the original post, I believe that if the inindividual who posted this were to lose their sight they apparently confidently think will never happen and they had to be in the position they currently care nothing about, their opinion would change just as quickly as they lost their sight. What is being said here is “because I don’t have your problem I simply don’t give a damn”. People like this need to lose what they so inconsideratley take for granted. This is nothing but disrespect and inconsiderate unless you would honestly walk in our shoes. I question if you would.


  6. Darrell,
    I believe this comparison is much more of a valid one than Bruce and others are willing to give it credit for. The reason is because the destructive impact it has on our equal participation in a society that increasingly is built around access to such technology is very, very real. People who don’t think so are the ones that obviously don’t experience it and, like the original poster, don’t give a damn about anybody but themselves. Even in that capacity its worth noting that these people are for some reason so certain they will never be in the shoes of the people they don’t give a damn about. Anyway, the comparison is very real when you draw it out and compare the resulting consequences. Yes not being able to complete a purchase on line may be something you may or may not care much about and no it is not the same consequence. Not being allowed to work because of accessibility, not being able to independently access resources important to independent living, etc lock you out of society. African Americans were locked out of society. Capchas are nothing compared to what ajax is poised to do which selfish greed seems to be blocking anything productive from being done about. For the sighted who can’t imagine anything but themselves out there, it is going to be your monitor going blank every time you go on the web and not a damn thing you can do about it. Would you care or do you just take such comfort in your confidence it will never happen to you that you can’t find any reason to care.


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