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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

IE6 as a disability

Accessibility, the process of making you site accessible to all, site statistics are not the defining factor, but doing things the right way. Well, we are lucky that in most cases accessibility and web standards go hand in hand but what about when they don’t?

Is there a disability which million of people worldwide have which wont benefit from liberal application of web standards? I think there is Its called Internet Explorer 6 .

Why should I consider IE6 as disabled.

In a nutshell a disability is when something or someone are lacking an ability. I know that is a gross over simplification, but stay with me a second, if we apply this idea to IE6 then maybe fixing its bugs wont seem so painful.
IE6’s bugs are notorious. Ask any decent web developer what they think of IE6s handling of anything from padding on floats to jogging text and you may end up comforting a man who has reached his end. Recently (as you may have noticed) I updated this site with a new design. One of the things which I started out with was to markup and style the site using firefox as my benchmark. I had several reason for doing this (not least the excellent firebug ) and I know I am not alone in doing this. I then launched the site without even looking at it in IE6.

Then I got a comment from someone “Take a look in IE6� so I pointed my newly installed IE4OSX at the site and began to bug fix. While doing this I was thinking about how much effort this was taking, I was growling about how much work I needed to put in because IE couldn’t do something properly.

This made me think of how much effort I can cause people when I cannot do something properly .

Thinking about this while moving about padding and margins I started to feel less hate for IE6 and more an understanding for its bugs.

Don’t get me wrong, IE6 is a very bad piece of code, and other web browsers which support web standards are certainly the future. But I found it interesting to think of IE6 as disability rather than simply a tool.

So what now?

So with these thoughts running around my head I thought I would do a couple of things. First of all I have adjusted my attitude towards bug fixing for IE6. I still will not use anything proprietary but I am a lot more happy to sit and play with values in the CSS for a couple of hours to get basic display in IE6 working.

I would urge you that next time you find yourself getting frustrated with IE6 to wonder if your frustration is the same as that of the user of the humble screen reader.

So what do you think? Would you consider IE6 as a disability? Do you think I am wrong to say that a “tool“ is disabled? Let me know in the comments!

Published: 16 December 2007 | Categories: , Permalink


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