Monday, 24 November 2008

Still a long way to go...

Today the TV shopping channel QVC is holding a sweepstakes in honour of their 22nd birthday. Throughout the day, they show a "lucky number" on the screen and you can go to a specific website to enter the lucky number along with your telephone number.

Unfortunately, although QVC generally does a very good job describing products, announcing prices, etc... they choose not to have someone actually "speak" the lucky number as it is shown (or afterwards). As a result, although QVC is generally quite popular with blind customers, those same customers are now unable to participate in the sweepstakes. This makes for a rather unfair sweepstakes. And it would have been so easy to avoid this problem...

Universal access still faces major hurdles if even basic things like this QVC sweepstakes is done in a way that is not accessible to a group of customers. And again, the overall benefit to the entire customer population was overlooked as well. Obviously, even sighted customers would have been able to benefit from having the lucky number announced verbally, e.g. when someone needs to tend to something so that they are not able to see the screen but may still be able to hear the TV.

Sadly, an opportunity lost shows just how far we are from being able to see universal access in a more mainstream manner.

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