I got a really interesting email from Groklaw member JD, who, it turns out, is blind. I had left a comment asking him some questions about accessibility.
Below is my response to a question you asked me on Groklaw
in the "Groklaw Podcast" story.
I'm emailing it to you because I see you have posted serveral
articles since then and you may no longer be monitoring comments
to this earlier story.
Authored by: JD on Monday, June 12 2006 @ 12:51 PM EDT
Groklaw is already very accessible, no need to do anything.
An important part of blog accessibility is selecting a
system or framework which adheres to W3C standards and a11y
guidelines. Most of the community-oriented or free software
".org" websites do this by instinct, not out of a desire
to be especially accessible to visually impaired or blind
people, but out of a desire to adhere to open standards
and abide by best practices as defined by the W3C, and
hence be accessible to everybody regardless of operating
system or web browser.
It's always a pleasure to visit a site powered by tools
like Wikimedia, Plone, Moinmoin, ..., etc. I only have a
few nitkpicks about Geeklog (the software that drives
Groklaw): it uses nested tables rather than nested div
blocks and html h1, h2, h3, ... to do layout. slashdot.org
recently updated their site from this old-school style
to the better div blocks + CSS format with much better
results for everybody. However, even as it is, Groklaw
is still very readble with the Lynx browser, and with IE
and proprietary screen readers.
I know you're already aware of the a11y problems posed
by PDF files. PDF seems to be an annoyance for many,
not just visually impaired or blind people.
I appreciate the Trojan work done by the volunteers who
do text renderings of the most interesting or important
Yes, feel free to forward my comment to your web team.
I'd also be willing to test any beta versions of the site your
team comes up with.
You can also reuse my comments in whole or in part as you please.
I would prefer to be named simply as JD.
I'd been reading Groklaw for some time before the ODF battles
started in October 2006, but what prompted me to register, and
start posting comments, was my disgust at the way in which
monopoly interests turned ODF accessibility for disabled people
into a political football and orchestrated a witch-hunt against Peter
ODF is a perfectly accessible format based on open XML standards
which already have a proven track record in web accessibility.
It is at the application level where accessibility problems arise.
OpenOffice may have serious accessibility problems today, but ODF
adoption is vital for long-term accessibility goals.
To demonstrate, I downloaded Microsoft's response to the ETRM from
It's ODF content in a .zip container.
I have no application on my computer capable of reading ODF.
But with a simple one-line Unix command-line hack, I extracted
a perfectly readable (if somewhat oddly formatted) text file.
What's more, I could send the same ODF XML back in time to 1984 to
the first computer I ever used (a 16-bit Zilog running Zeus Unix or
something), and recover the text in the same way with a command like:
sed 's/]*>//g' content.xml | fold -sw72 > content.txt
You certainly can't do that with an opaque binary MS ".doc" or
an Adobe ".pdf" file.