Accessibility of the Vancouver 2010 Games site – Follow up, Part 2

Another look back on a question I posed to John Furlong (CEO of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games) as well as the current state of the official Vancouver 2010 Web site.

To review, I had a chance to ask John Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, about the current state of the official Vancouver 2010 Web site back in May of 2004. My main points to him were:

  1. Do you feel that the web site, which will be the main focus of Olympic and Paralympic information for the world, should meet at least the basic guidelines of accessibility?
  2. If your site did meet these basic requirements, what value would you find in promoting an accessible friendly web site?

To paraphrase from the last article;

"…Mr. Furlong’s assured me that the web site will certainly lead an example to the rest of the world. [O]nce a team is in place to look after the related tasks, certain guidelines will be followed. The site that you see right now will definitely change as the Olympics draw near."

from Crazy Bat Designs – News item of 20 May 2004

With one year passing since my last review of the site, I figured that there would have been some improvements made, in terms of standards-based approach. Unfortunately, the news is not so good.

First, a comparison of the "Good" items from 27 February 2006 with today’s observations:

The Good

CSS validates
Same result as of today
Primary language is defined for both English and French versions of the site.
Same result as of today
One Accesskey is in use (It’s ’13’ though)
Same result as of today, so this is now being moved to the "bad" section
A text-only version of the site available
Same result as of today.
Alternate CSSs are available at the top and the bottom of the document. (Not on the home page, oddly enough)
Same result as of today.
RSS feed available (Doesn’t validate as of yet)
Same result as of today.
Alternate content for those with JavaScript disabled
Same result as of today.

Next, a comparison of the "Bad" items from 27 February 2006 with today’s observations:

The Bad

22 validation errors on the home page. (Including No DOCTYPE defined)
Same result as of today.
One CSS for all media, which results in content being cut off when printing
Same result as of today.
Heavy dependency on JavaScript (Although the user is given a message and a link to the text version of the site, it’s still not the most usable)
Same result as of today. (And to clarify, this dependency is with the site’s main navigation on the home page which would force a non-JavaScript user through an extra level of navigation)
A few form elements are missing their respective labels
Corrected. A label is now matched up with it’s appropriate input.
Some inline styling
Same result as of today.
Non-breaking space abuse
Same result as of today.
Semantics aren’t the greatest. (Example: Heading 2 is used for a title in the content area, but also for a ‘More Featured Stories’ link and a survey question within the heading 1 for ‘Upcoming Events’. No lists are used for main navigation.)
Results are worse than before.
Meta data for the English page indicates that it is the ‘Version Francais’
Same result as of today.
The home page itself is a little plump at over 100k
Results are worse than before. (Approximately 180k)
Some words that precede the "more" link don’t make sense. (Example: ‘announcemen’)
Corrected. (But, reading the lead-in text in context could still be confusing.)
Scripts could probably use some consolidation
Same result as of today.
CSS selectors could be a bit more semantic (Example: .leftContent, .small, .strong. What if .leftContent is moved to the right? What if .small is big? What if .strong is not so strong?
Same result as of today.
Most title elements on the site are the same.
Absolutely no title attributes
Somewhat the same results as of today. (There is only one title attribute and it’s for "Bell Canada")
One Accesskey is in use (It’s ’13’ though)
Moved from the "Good" category, as this accesskey assignment is useless.

Finally, some more disturbing items that weren’t picked up with the last review:

The Disturbing

  • Tables are used for some parts of the site’s layout
  • The site doesn’t pass WAI-A. (Failure on 2 automated and 3 manual checkpoints)

Last year, I had stated that there was improvement with this site, based on a snapshot of the site in February of 2006. Today, there has been virtually little improvements with the site, in terms of a standards-based design. In fact, aside from the points that were addressed, it seems to be in a worse state then before.

So, I’ll reiterate John Furlong’s comments:

"…never good enough."

John Furlong, CEO of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games – 19 May 2004, Morgan Creek Golf and Country Club. Surrey

With three years to go until the games, how much longer until this site will meet the basics of web and accessibility standards?

I wouldn’t want to wait too long, lest history will repeat itself.


2007 Web Directions North wrap up

With Web Directions coming to Vancouver for the first time, I knew I didn’t want to miss out on this events. Here is a brief summary of my experience at Web Directions North 2007

First, I had the pleasure of meeting the following people (in alphabetical order):

  • John Allsopp
  • Angela Baxley
  • Kenneth Berger
  • Brian (West Coast Logic)
  • Dan Cederholm
  • Marc Charron
  • Joe Clark
  • Andy Clarke
  • Craig Cook
  • Brian Duchek
  • Jonathan Eckmier
  • Derek Featherstone
  • Ian Fenn
  • Molly E. Holzschlag
  • Klaus Komenda
  • Seamus Leahy
  • Bill MacEwan
  • Alex MacLennan
  • Eric Nowina
  • Greg Rewis
  • Dave Shea
  • Maxine Sherrin
  • Jonathan Snook
  • Stephanie Sullivan

I’m not going to bore you with the gory details, but I’d rather go over the highlights and some lighter moments from my perspective.

Accessibility 2.0 with Derek Featherstone


  • Use of Multiple Intellegence Theory and how it’s used this to solve issues.
  • Issues with Checkpoint 6.3 using a binary approach.
  • An in-depth analysis of Hijax and how it works.
  • Opera uses tab to only tab through form fields in a form.
  • Seeing the differences between the different versions of JAWS.
  • Learning that visually impaired people are starting to use physically raised letters instead of braille.
  • If your site is having a particular issue with a screen reader, include it in your accessibility statement.
  • For an invalid form input, perhaps have an audible sound to alert the user.
  • tabindex="-1"
  • readonly=readonly
  • The interesting prospects of the proposed WAI-ARIA.
  • Thinking of the construction of a web application like a traditional storyboard walk-through for animation.

Lighter Moments

  • Ian Fenn accidentally unplugged the projector right before the class.
  • Having JAWS and Window Eyes try to read out content while Derek was attempting to talk.
  • Derek shaking his fists at the laptop when the above point occurred.
  • Poking fun at the Adobe representatives.

Opening Keynote – WSI Vancouver – Crimes against Web Standards with Molly E. Holzschlag


  • Well, this was the first time I had seen Molly talk, so the whole experience was quite light-hearted for me. Still informative and engaging.
  • Someone admitting they had used ActiveX controls.

Lighter moments

  • Seeing Eric Meyer with a "Snakes on a Plane" poster on his wall.

Design and Coding at the cutting edge with Cameron Moll


  • The diagram that shows Graphic Design (Means) combined with Human Computing (Involvement) and Communication (Meaning) to come up with the UI. (An experience)
  • Making input buttons intuitive. (e.g.: "Remember" versus "Yes")
  • The very insightful example of where you would put armor on a plane, based on a history of where the bullet holes were found on the planes that returned. (Think about it)
  • Do you want to see if a site has sufficient contrast and hierarchy? Try applying a blur as well as devoiding a page of colour. Can you still tell what is what? (I believe this ties into the rules of composition)
  • Apparently, <a href="tel:604-123-1234">604-123-1234</a> will work as a dialable link on a phone.
  • XHTML-MP is the preferred market language for mobile devices.

Accessibility and the Design Process with Joe Clark


  • Poking fun at the deprecated TTC site.
  • Getting a real good idea at how much work it will actually take to rebuild the TTC site to a standards-based design. Basically, it sounded like you would need a team of at least 10 people to even attempt it.

Lighter Moments

  • Seeing swear words on the projector.
  • Announcement about the Boys’ Night Out at Pub Jacks. "No girls, no trannies. Sorry, kids.".

Transcendant Design with CSS and JavaScript with Andy Clarke and Aaron Gustafson


  • Seeing "The Jam" play on the projector before the presentation.
  • The idea of looking at different cultures, menus and books for artistic inspiration.
  • Thinking of everyday situation and wondering how you would mark them up. (e.g.: A rack of different breads at a bakery. Perhaps an unordered list?)

Lighter Moments

  • Helped Andy move a chair on stage. I commented that "I never would have thought I’d be moving a chair with Andy Clarke today!".

Web Apps: Developer to Designer with Paul Hammond and George Oates


  • Learning more about SMARTY.
  • Think of designing something by considering it in it’s next larger context. (e.g.: a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house on a street, a street in a city.)
  • Learning about Yahoo Pipes.
  • Seeing the design process behind the current interface you see at Flickr.

In summary, Web Directions North was as a life-changing experience for me, and I don’t say that very often. It was quite a thrill to be able to talk face to face with my mentors who have helped me out tremendously, past and present.

And how do you top it all off? When I had seen Dave, Derek, John and Maxine at the very end of the conference standing on stage receiving a standing ovation, I felt proud of what they had brought to Vancouver. As well, I had a vision. I had the distinct thought that someday, that will be me. Seriously!

A sincere thanks to these organizers for allowing me to share in the experience. It was quite something for me personally and professionally. Looking forward to you all coming back to the northern hemisphere.