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They finally did it: Reddit made it impossible for blind Redditors to moderate their own sub (/r/blind announcement)

Since the latest "accessibility" update to the Reddit app, the amount and magnitude of new accessibility related bugs has made it virtually impossible for blind mods to operate on mobile.

We have done absolutely everything we could to work with Reddit and have given them every opportunity. When they offered to host a demo of the update, we understood how little they understand about accessibility: they did not respond to a request to use the app with screen curtain on. The only fair conclusion is that they cannot use it without sight, but expect us to.

The update introduced various regressions and new bugs. This is entirely within the expectations of the mod team, given how rushed it was and how Reddit continues to demonstrate how underprepared they are to deal with accessibility.

But what about the "accessibility apps?"

They may not work. At this time, it is impossible to log into RedReader.

They shouldn't have to work. Reddit made a business decision to effectively remove users' access to third-party apps and must assure that access by its own means.

What now for r/Blind?

The subreddit will continue operating under the care and stewardship of its visually impaired and sighted moderators.

Let us be clear: r/Blind cannot be moderated by blind people.

Reddit has a single path forward

As u/rumster, founder of r/Blind and a CPWA Certified Professional of Web Accessibility, told Reddit admins in our first meeting, Reddit needs to hire a CPWA. It has been patently obvious that the company does not have the know-how to address these accessibility issues, as we explained on the update on the second meeting.

To build the required internal structure and processes, and create an accessible platform, they must:

  • Create and fill the position of "Chief Accessibility Officer." This role must have oversight over development as well as the ability to set internal and public Reddit policy. This person should have the ability to halt any corporate strategy or initiative within Reddit as a company and/or any feature, update, etc. to the Reddit website and/or apps until they believe the impact on accessibility for disabled redditors by said strategy, initiative, feature, update, etc. has been fully addressed, implemented, ensured, and/or mitigated. The person filling this role should have both development and managerial experience and hold at least the Certified Professional of Web Accessibility (CPWA) certification as issued by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). This person should also be disabled and an active Redditor and must coordinate communication with disabled users and their communities.

  • Reddit must commit to ensuring training and certification of all developers responsible for accessible and inclusive design. Lead developers must be trained and certified at least to the level of Web Accessibility Specialist (WAS) as issued by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), but ideally should hold the "Certified Professional of Web Accessibility (CPWA)."

  • Fully implement an alternative text (alt text) function for photos and videos in which posters can compose descriptions for blind and visually impaired users.

  • Implement a closed-captioning system for videos, thus allowing deaf and deafblind Redditors full access to the audio content of videos.

  • Implement a single dedicated point of contact for accessibility and disability issues in the form of an email address:

  • Ultimately and crucially, commit to comply with the WCAG at level AA and ATAG standards.

Disability is a social issue and software must be tested

As u/MostlyBlindGamer explained to Reddit admins in modmail, "disability" is an interaction between a person's physical or mental characteristics and society's barriers. Your website's barriers. You are making people disabled by breaking your website and apps. Your organization's unwillingness and/or inability to hire actual experts is what's making people disabled. We're not disabled, because we can't see like you can: we're disabled, because crunching developers, who don't have the necessary training and experience, for a week, predictably, caused regressions. If I don't test my code, people die. When you don't test your code, because you don't know how to, you make people disabled.

If Reddit Inc wants to deny service to disabled people, they must make that statement

As u/DHamlinMusic said, this update made no functional changes beyond the add/remove favorites button in the community's list being labeled and changing state properly, yet it added dozens of new issues, made moderating significantly harder and should never have been released to start. If Reddit's intention is to just not have disabled users on reddit come out and say it instead of pulling this landlord trying to empty a rent controlled building bullshit.

Disabled redditors will not accept being quietly whisked away, nor will the broader Reddit community. People make Reddit and people can break Reddit.

Posted by AutoModerator