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What Slaves Do When They Aren't Cleaning Toilets: A Tale of Web Accessibility in the Cybersex Era

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Stop dragging your feet, boy, and stop whimpering. You knew you had this coming to you. What I want from you is quite simple. I want you to design a Website that's compatible with Section 508— Stop sobbing, damn it! A Website that's compatible with Section 508 and complies with W3C's Checkpoints for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.

Get off the floor, boy; you're dirtying my boots with your tears. Just walk over here with me and sit down in this chair— Damn it, boy, don't make me tie you down! You're a leatherman – take your punishment like a man!

That's good, stay still like that. Follow my orders. Don't you worry, boy; I'll start you off easy. First thing I want you to do is figure out a way to make the site compatible for WebTV users. . . . That's good, boy, breathe deeply. Feel the pain course through you; absorb it with your strength. Now reach for the mouse. . . . Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I see you've used a table to put the text in the middle of the screen. And you've made the table narrow enough that the text can be read on a WebTV screen. Very clever, boy. But what about Checkpoint 3.4?

Didn't see that coming, boy, did you? I'll just let you take a moment to get your breath back while I remind you: No absolute units in markup language. You have to do everything by percentage. You can't specify that the table will be 580 pixels wide; you have to say that it will be such-and-such a percentage wide. . . . That's good, change the table width to relative units. By the way, boy, did you identify the table's row and column headers? . . . No, no, boy, no need to get down and kiss my boots; I'm just joking. This isn't a data table. Now, let's check what this will look like on a big screen. Remember, we want the text line to be short, so that the reader won't get tired out by the end of the line.

Why, look at that, boy! When you make the table a percentage of the screen, the text runs way too long on a large screen. Change it back to absolute values! No, remember Checkpoint 3.4! No, accommodate the large-screen users!

Oh, yeah . . . Fuck, yeah . . . Boy, it makes me hard watching you do that. Keep switching between those two markup languages for a while longer.

Okay, that's enough, boy. You can catch your breath; then comes a harder stage. In order to make the text show up clearly against the background, I want you to choose a color background for the top and bottom of the screen that has an eighty-percent saturation contrast with the text, and is Web-safe.

Remember what I told you about whimpering, boy? Behave yourself, or I'll make you find a color for the margins that's Web-safe too. Just look through all the 216 colors till you find the right one. . . . All right, that will do. Don't want to waste our time with the easy stuff. I'm going to leave you for a moment to get myself a beer. By the time I come back, I expect you to have the site's contents divided by issue and by contributor, so as to make the navigation easy. Oh, and while you're at it, I want you to supply an alt description for every image and recording, make sure the site can be read without style sheets, provide auditory descriptions of the animations, and give titles to every frame. . . .

Hmm. Decided to do without images, recordings, style sheets, animations, and frames, did you? I always knew you were a smart boy. Very simple format, easy navigation, no fancy stuff. Just the sort of stripped-down life I expect you to lead. Now comes the hard part.

Stop laughing, boy! That wasn't a joke! You think you're so funny, do you? Well, check to see that this site is compatible for the color-blind, for older browsers, for lynx browsers, for small and large screens, and for just about any damn browser!

Oh-ho, so you managed to pass all the tests, did you? You think you're smart, huh? Well, try this: Pass the Cynthia test!

Ha! Couldn't do it, could you? You spent so much time worrying about the 508 requirements that you forgot about the W3C requirements! You forgot to make information conveyed with color also available without color, you forgot to clearly identify the target of each link, you forgot to provide keyboard shortcuts to important links, you forgot to provide navigation bars to highlight and give access to the navigation mechanism, you forgot to supplement text with graphic or auditory presentations where they will facilitate comprehension of the page, and worst of all, you forgot to use style sheets!

Don't babble like a baby about my previous orders on style sheets, boy! Were you stupid enough to think that designing an accessible Website would be easy? I told you when I met you: I want my boys tough, and if they don't have what it takes, they're going to be sorry they ever started with me. I've got one last task for you to do: I want you to make sure this site can be read with large fonts, with a screen reader, and with a braille display.

Stop screaming, boy! You'll wake the neighbors! Boy, I've had it up to here with you. I'm done with playing games. You're going to get a taste now of some real discipline.

Oh, yeah, you know what I mean, don't you? I can see it in your face. That's why you've gone pale as a sheet. Thought you could show me up, didn't you, asshole? Thought you could show yourself smarter than your master. Well, now's your time to pay for that insolence. Now, and for a long time coming, you'll discover what happens to uppity slaves.

I want you to read the unabridged Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0! And understand them!