Just You Try to Read My Inaccessible Article About Digital Accessibility

When Attorney Leonard Duboff, who is blind, asked me to help him write an article for the Oregon State Bar Bulletin about digital accessibility, I said “sure!” and then promptly skedaddled over to the Bulletin website to get a feel for its tone. When I got there, it all made sense why the article needed to be written. Displayed in a photo flipbook format, The Oregon State Bar Bulletin was 100% inaccessible. “Ah, I see!” I thought. “I will be writing an article about blindness access that no blind person will be able to access. Classic!”

To their credit, once the OSBA was made aware of the issue, they did take steps to remedy the situation. They are working with our web accessibility consultants to improve their website’s compliance with WCAG guidelines. I hope that improvements will come soon for blind attorneys, law students, and consumers alike who may wish to access the Bar website and its Bulletin and archives. For now, the OSBA has posted, as an emergency measure, the entire Bulletin in PDF. Though now somewhat readable, it is still a headache-inducing, accessibility nightmare. For those of you who dare attempt to read it with screen readers and braille displays, I salute your bravery. (But if you really would like to read the article, email me and I can send you my word file of it. I can’t post something I wrote and NOT give you a way to read it!) For the adventurous, though, You can find it in the May, 2019 edition of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.

A very similar article written by Mr. Duboff and myself was also picked up in the April 2019 edition of the New York State Bar Association Journal, but you probably can’t read that one, either. This is not an accessibility issue, though. What I can access of the NYSBA website is actually fairly accessible. But the journal is behind a login wall for members only. As a courtesy, authors are usually given free copies of publications they contribute to, and I asked for a digital copy. This is what I was sent:

New York State Bar Bulletin Article Publised April 2019
A JPEG image of a page from the article. It is slightly diagonal and cut off, greyed text like an old photocopied fax, it is not tagged or readable.

I can’t read this article, either–at least not with significant effort and a top notch OCR scanner. So we’ve got a ways to go on this topic, don’t we? But I will keep chipping away as best I can.