A new software developers’ mutual help Web site (no longer) rudely excludes deaf software developers

The newly announced http://www.stackoverflow.com/ Web site confines all communications to the audio format. No provision for textual transcription of the audio podcasts exists. Users’ submissions are accepted only if they are in audio format. This is probably the founders’ newest idea for filtering out spam and flames.
However, it is a case of rude inaccessibility. Please do not contribute and do not browse the Web site – and let the founders know your opinion about this case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
The announcements in the founders’ blogs are as follows:

What next, a Web site, which excludes gay software developers?

23 APR 2008 UPDATE:

The podcasts are now transcribed into text, making them accessible to the deaf as well as being helpful to people, who want to discover them using search engines, and people having no time to listen through the entire podcast.
The transcription mechanism is Wiki-based, allowing people to transcribe text piece by piece. So even if you have only 15 minutes to spare, you can still make a contribution.
It is still necessary to persuade them to accept questions as text in addition to sound clips…

Author: Omer Zak

I am deaf since birth. I played with big computers which eat punched cards and spew out printouts since age 12. Ever since they became available, I work and play with desktop size computers which eat keyboard keypresses and spew out display pixels. Among other things, I developed software which helped the deaf in Israel use the telephone network, by means of home computers equipped with modems. Several years later, I developed Hebrew localizations for some cellular phones, which helped the deaf in Israel utilize the cellular phone networks. I am interested in entrepreneurship, Science Fiction and making the world more accessible to people with disabilities.

7 thoughts on “A new software developers’ mutual help Web site (no longer) rudely excludes deaf software developers”

  1. How could I voice my legitimate concerns, if I don’t have a voice due to my deafness (which makes my speech unintelligible and makes it impossible for me to verify the quality of my speech recording before E-mailing it), and when the Web site hints that only E-mail messages with sound files would be accepted?
    The time to react to such lunatic ideas is not later, but NOW – before the Web site is set in stone and before the founders would be able to claim that the idea is OK because there were no objections immediately after they announced it.

    1. Omer, If you see this as an attack on the deaf, then surely the entire podcast genre and indeed talk radio and the music industry are all out against you.

      in other words, I think you are doing your community a disservice here by attacking ad hominem for no reason. There are so many other communities, forums, IRC channels and mailing lists for any deaf person to use.

      Once again, I wish you had installed the Email comment registration plugin, because I would not remember to check if this conversation moves on.

      Yom Tov.

    2. Sorry, Ira and all others – but Omer is right. I’d like to think ideally that we should wait until websites are finished to offer feedback. However, experience teaches me that it is better to get in as early as possible. This is far more respectful to the developer. Including accessibility can involve rewriting the coding for an entire website. It may be uncomfortable for you to be so vocal, but in the long run it will be better for provider and consumer to confront this issue now – financially, socially, and personally.

    3. did you see anyone protesting “I can haz cheeseburger” and “Graph jam” about singling out the blind? oh wait, there’s all of Youtube too.

      following Omer’s logic, no technical site (ok, let’s leave entertainment aside) should have podcasts without transcriptions. there are hundreds of technical podcasts, how is this one so very different that it needs to be attacked?

    4. The thing, which ruffled my feathers was the requirement to use sound clips in E-mail to the Web site. Not as an alternative to text, mind you, but instead of text. This requirement excludes the deaf even without the excuse of costs to make the site accessible (by transcribing the podcasts).

      The nearest hamburger stand equivalent would be a business, which bans its cashiers from talking with the customers as they get orders – requiring the customers to write on paper, or punch buttons on an order board.

      And I did not get started yet on the incidental benefits to the non-disabled from making Web sites accessible to the disabled (PC term being sensory challenged). In the case of podcasts in technical Web sites, the primary benefits are:
      1. Ability to search, using search engines.
      2. Ability to skim through if one does not have the time to listen to the full podcast.

      In an ideal world, technical Web sites, which offer podcasts, would provide also a Wiki to coordinate and support volunteers having the time to transcribe short bites of the podcasts (an example: Larry_Wall_-_Present_Continuous,_Future_Perfect.

    5. Don’t get me wrong – I agree that the requirement of recording voice is ridiculous, most people don’t have a microphone at their work computers, the output is not searchable as you said, and in general it sounds like a very awkward idea because who has time to listen to recorded advice in the replies (I listen to podcasts while driving, not when I’m trying to figure out a bit of code – what are they going to do, dictate me a syntax of an alternative command?)

      The problem is not the silly website, but the way you see it as an attack on your minority. I see it as a silly overlook that will come back to bite them in their collective bottom for soooooooo many reasons other than the inability of deaf people to participate 🙂

  2. You’re clearly overreacting. The site is not even complete- when it’s done, then voicing your legitimate concerns will likely get taken care of.

    It was just announced yesterday- give it time….. Not even sure why I’m commenting here because you’re obviously trying to instigate something when you probably and rightfully know it’s not finished, like any project “Under Development”.

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