Why accessibility is important

Last time I wanted to update my McAfee virus subscription they told me that I couldn’t download the latest version of the software using Firefox. The only option I had to download the software was to use IE. I couldn’t find another way to download the product.

So say we take a fairly conservative view and say that on average 90% of people use IE. That means that the actual install part of the website was completely inaccessible to 10% of the people who bought the product! That’s an awful lot of unhappy people.

The worst thing was that they were perfectly happy to sell me the product when I was using Firefox but as soon as I wanted to download it, they told me I had to use IE. Yes this was because the install was an ActiveX component (maybe to make it easier to install?) but would it have killed them to offer a stand alone installer to the 10% of the market who weren’t using IE (nevermind for regular people who don’t know about ActiveX components)?

See that’s what I think accessibility is about. It’s not offering the same experience to everyone, but it is offering some experience to everyone. I wasn’t concerned that I couldn’t get the nice, easy ActiveX install to run. A simple low-tech download link would have done me fine. I just wanted to be able to install the thing on my machine so I could have some sort of protection against viruses. It was the fact that I couldn’t get this at all without having to use IE that made me feel so frustrated, not just because I couldn’t get the same experience as if I’d been using IE.

Posted on 02 Sep 06 by Helen Emerson (last updated on 02 Sep 06).
Filed under Web development