Meetup Meets My Rage Again

Remember last September when I was talking about Meetup? Well, nothing has really changed, except I have a new reason for Meetup to piss me off.

I have limped along for a year dealing with their half accessible interface. I cannot choose a Meetup place by choosing from my venues because the options to choose a letter of the alphabet and then choose from there are completely keyboard-inaccessible. They do not respond to space, enter, or simulated mouse click. The mouse, and only the mouse will do. Well, I don’t do the mouse. What I’ve had to do is search for a Meetup place and then click the link that appears that says “hold your Meetup at x place.”

Today, someone suggested a Meetup, so I thought I’d let her be an event host. There is such an option. Then, they get to receive emails about who’s coming, as well as feedback on how it went. But I discovered that you have to be a screenreader ninja to make this option work, and even when you do, you may have butchered your whole Meetup, so go over it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure all your other settings are what they should be.

Let’s start from the beginning. After you have selected your place, set the time and all that stuff, you can set an event host. What you have to do is type the name of the person in the edit field. But be very very careful with this edit field! If you even so much as look at it again, the text disappears, and I’m pretty sure just entering text in the instructions for event hosts field causes the text to vanish without a trace. If you manage to keep that text there, there is a graphic that turns into a plus, but it appears to be another one of those singularly mouse-driven controls. That plus graphic should be the answer to all my prayers, but it’s not. Oh no no no. What you have to then do is come out of forms mode, put your jaws cursor on and click add event host. These words appear to be nowhere in sight when just looking around with the regular cursor. I have no idea how they accomplished this feat. Then, after you do that, at the very bottom of the page appears a list of people matching the text string you put in. Amazingly, they are links, so click the one you want. That *should* move them up to being a host.

But after I did that, I somehow disabled people’s ability to RSVP maybe, and I turned off the ability for event hosts to receive RSVP’s by email. I have no idea how that happened. I can only guess that my dicking around with the JAWS cursor caused me to inadvertently click on the boxes and uncheck them. Once I turned those back on, all was good.

The thing is I shouldn’t have to do all that just to interact with the site and perform basic tasks. If I wasn’t stubborn as a mule, I wouldn’t have even tried. I would have just given up. But I am in fact determined as all hell, so I beat the interface.

I have written a less than pleasant email to support detailing my difficulties. I don’t know what to hope for. The last time I wrote about accessibility difficulties, I had to haggle with them for a month to get a coupon that FS could use to get in there and view the interface, and then FS said they weren’t gonna bother. But I told them that I wonder what I pay the $144 US a year for if their idea of support is sending me articles written for developers about how to write good javascript, telling me they don’t have a clue how to fix their code, and not even bothering to read the history in a support ticket thread. I don’t know if there’s an alternative to meetup, but I’m very tempted to find one if things don’t improve.

But in the meantime, for other Meetup organizers with screenreaders, at least JAWS, I hope this little tip might help prevent you from pulling your hair out. Conversely, if you have been able to add an event host or select a Meetup place from your list in a less painful way, please, please enlighten me.

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