Now and then I take a quick glance at the ads that appear on some of our pages. I figure it’s nice to have a sense of what’s being shilled on our behalf, plus if there’s anything scammy looking that people might need to be warned about I’ll be able to check into it.
Google’s ad banners are generally a mix of text, photos and text, and photos of text. It’s that last category that makes things fun. I’m sure Carin and I have gone over this a time or 12, but the TLDR version is that pictures of text, like screenshots for example, are no good to a screen reader user. The best chance we have of making any sort of use of them is to run some OCR on the image in question and then hope for the best. NVDA (my screen reader of choice) makes it pretty simple. I press numpad 0 and R at the same time, it quickly runs the OCR function built into Windows and displays the results in a small window for me. Sometimes it works great, sometimes it sort of works, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all.
Well, today some of them worked, and one of them was completely frigging ridiculous and personally insulting.
It was an advertisement for, of all things, CNIB’s catch the ace game. No, really. I, a blind person, would never have known this had I not made the effort to figure it out. To the screen reader, you know, the accessibility software we all have to use, the entire thing is a graphic that reads like a jumble of nonsense numbers and letters. An organization purporting to help the blind approved this. Well done, guys. Well done.
Thanks for whatever ad revenue we happen to make during your campaign, but do me a favour and never talk about breaking down barriers again since you’re out here erecting them now.