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Discussion in 'Current Events' started by IJ Reilly, Sep 9, 2005.
I don't want to sound flipant, but could this be concidered discriminatory? Isn't it a requirement for federal agencies to provide 'equal access' to all individuals?
I don't want to belittle the situation - it is great that emergeny aid is been made available none the less
This was actually on Slashdot yesterday. And it was pointed out here that it was an in house tool that was made available to the public on short notice.
It wasn't meant for public use, and they are working on the fix. It appears that at least some people in FEMA get that this is a desperate need and they are working with the tools that they have to get something now, while pursuing a better tool for the future.
I've never done web-design myself, but I've always wondered if it's really THAT difficult to make webpages cross-browser compatible. I mean look at how many webpages are. Is it just lazy webdesigners?
If I recall correctly from the replies to the Slashdot story on this, the application is actually cross-browser compatible if you configure your Web browser to change the user agent string it was reporting (i.e. to make your browser "impersonate" IE 6). I suspect that the application was built using some kind of Microsoft tool, and that that tool inserted this needless check for IE 6 automatically.
Well it could be lazy web designers or it could be inexperience with web design in general. As I mentioned this was an in house only tool that was pushed out to be publicly available. If your company requires use of IE and they ask someone inexperienced to write a web based tool for in house use the result is going to be similar to what we are seeing here. Since it only needed to work with IE that's how it was written. An experienced web designer might make it compatible but since IE was the company standard it was not necessary.
The federal government does have rules governing technology access. The agencies are not supposed to create arbitrary barriers to technology access. That said, these rules are routinely ignored. As anyone who ever competes for federal contracts knows, contract specifications, not just of often, but nearly always, require written work products to be submitted in Microsoft formats. The federal government often posts public data as Word documents and Excel spreadsheets (even when they're just simple tables). I've even seen a few Access databases posted on federal websites. It's a big problem throughout government.
I admit that this is probably an issue, however I don't see the FEMA setup as being in the same category. My company releases product manuals in PDF form. We make the original documents in Microsoft Word/PowerPoint/Excell. If our PDF ability goes out due to a computer crash we might send a customer MS formated documentation until we can get PDFs back online, which is where I see the FEMA situation.
They needed an online submission form and they already had the in house tool that works with their office standard IE browser. Rather than drag their feet and wait until they have a standards compatible form they release their in-house tool as a band-aid until they can get a better tool in place. If more of FEMA acted like this we might not be complaining so much about their handling of Katrina.
Let's see how long it takes to fix, or even if it gets done. If they manage it at all, it will be the exception to the rule in the federal government, where by in large, they don't care about such things because nobody instructs them to care.
Would a Mac user even live by the Ocean under sea level? Those all had to be hard core Windows users.
There's a chance that the online aid registration is SAID to work only in IE6, but may work properly on another browser. Its guaranteed to work in IE6, that's all. Maybe it'll even work in Safari and Firefox, the 2 main Mac browsers (personal observation, that's all).
I believe the article says, or possibly somewhere else I read, that changing the user agent in Safari to MSIE 6.0 for Windows does the trick. Does anyone know if Frontpage or some other Microsoft tool throws up these restrictions by default?
As stated before this was an proprietary in-house webpage, that was support by a proprietary in-house application. Application, as in this was more than just your simple html page. Since, the government runs Microsoft software and microsoft products are not "Plays for sure" with everyone, there are of course bound to be problems.
That said, the federal government does mandate that federal public webpages have certain accessibility standards, however give the people time to react. In the case of FEMA, it seems there reaction time is 5-7 days.
I wonder what impact would be made, if our federal government ran solely on OS X.