The Olympic 2012 Logo fiasco

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

I was away when the Olympic logo fiasco blew up. For those who do not know, the logo for the 2012 Olympics in London was unveiled earlier this week. The first furore was about the logo itself, I will not comment on it except to say I am not surprised by the negative reaction.

The second furore was about a video on the Olympic web site showing how the logo might be used. This had fast flashing images that caused epileptic fits. The W3C standards on accessibility specifically state that web sites should not use flashing images of this sort; as do the guidelines of OFCOM (the regulator for communications in the UK).

The fall out from this has been a lot of bad press worldwide and this has certainly damaged the reputation of the Olympic organising committee. The question that it begs is “If they are going to mess up the web site in such a silly way what else are they going to get wrong?” This may be the first time that not complying with the accessibility standards has caused reputational damage. Hopefully it will raise the issue in the minds of web designers and website owners.

This story led me to look at the Olympic website with my accessibility hat on and I am afraid there is more bad news lurking under the covers.

But firstly the good news, accessibility has been thought about. The website has an ‘accessibility’ page and it says the right sorts of things:

  • ‘London 2012 is fully committed to ensuring its website is accessible and inclusive for all its users’.
  • ‘Its design and build has taken into account the following guidelines:
    • The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
    • The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA, part three)’
  • etc.

The flashing logo obviously shows that they do not do sufficient testing against the standards they have set themselves. But if it was an isolated incident you could see it as something unusual slipping through the quality control net.

However I ran some other tests:

  • I ran the W3C HTML Validator against the home page and it flagged 42 errors. This test only takes a moment to run so there is absolutely no excuse for this level of slopping coding.
  • I then ran the same validator against the ‘accessibility’ page and got 50 errors.
  • Next I ran the CSS validator against the ‘accessibility’ page, which gave me 7 errors and 177 warnings.

Note this is before I tried any accessibility checks. I ran an accessibility check using TV Total Validator and it picked up 18 accessibility issues.

It is perfectly possible to develop clean websites. Bad HTML often masked accessibility or content problems. Bad HTML also means that the site may not render as expected on all browsers.

We are in the early stages of the Olympic development; now is the moment to clean up the website HTML and ensure that any new pages or content are of a standard that reflects the excellence of the world class competitors in the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.

For a continuing discussion on accessibility of major sporting web sites see my blog on Wimbledon.