A Reply from No Frills and Bigger Problems for Loblaw Companies

Recently I wrote to No Frills about my concerns over some print advertisements I saw outside my local supermarket.

A Letter to No Frills About Offensive Ad

Another Letter to No Frills About Another Offensive Ad

I feel their use of the words bananas and nuts in their ads are hurtful to many individuals and add to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Some readers may disagree, but remember words like gay and retarded were acceptable vernacular not too many years ago.

Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and author, shares my views and suggests society needs to banish words such as crazy and nuts. I quoted Dr. Saltz in a separate post, cra-zy.

I want to let readers know that I received a response from No Frills’ parent company, Loblaw Companies. Loblaw assured me that they did not mean to offend and that my concerns would be passed along to the marketing department.

Unfortunately, the print ads remain. And I’m skeptical that the marketing department gives a shit, for I view marketers in the same light as used-car salesmen and politicians.

Coincidentally, I read an article in CBC news today about a woman with a disability who was banned from a No Frills store because she couldn’t pack her groceries fast enough.

Woman with disability banned from No Frills store after failing to pack groceries fast enough

Kudos to Linda Rolston for complaining to head office and being an advocate for people with disabilities.

To Loblaw Companies, I would simply encourage you to treat every customer with respect; other critics, however, would say your behaviour in this case is nuts.

 

 

Prioritizing Accessibility Part 2

Last week I wrote about my goal to make my blog site more accessible and my embarrassment that my goal was an afterthought and not a priority.

I am happy to say (although feelings of guilt remain) that I have taken some steps to improve the accessibility of my posts.

First, I switched to a more accessible font. Although my outdated personal preference is Times New Roman, sans-serif fonts are easier to read. Readability needs to trump personal preference of squiggly lines on letters.

Second, I added alternative text to my images if my captions did not describe all the details of the picture. Alternative text is important because it is read by screen readers making the image more accessible to those with visual or other cognitive challenges.

Third, I utilized WAVE, a web accessibility evaluation tool, to provide feedback on the accessibility of my site. WAVE alerted me to some accessibility issues on my page.

I learned that it would have saved time if I had thought of accessibility at the beginning of my blogging journey (during the design phase) as opposed to considering it after I had written a number of posts. However, with the aforementioned actions, I was able to create a more accessible blog site. And, hey, you never know, maybe with a more accessible blog, my number of readers will increase from one to two.

Prioritizing Accessibility

Here’s a real problem that I’m embarrassed about: I have been blogging for a couple months now, and now my goal is to make my blog site more accessible to all readers.

The problem is not the goal, of course. It’s an admirable goal. The problem is the timing of the goal. Improving accessibility is often an afterthought when it should be a top priority.

Barriers to accessibility are like my kids’ toys lying around the house: they’re annoying, they’re everywhere, and they’re harmful. Stepping on LEGO© hurts!

Awareness of the barriers to accessibility has improved in recent years, but more is needed. Sure, it takes time to break down large-scale societal and systemic barriers. But barriers can be broken. Perhaps it starts with individuals. I hope that individuals start thinking about accessibility issues at the onset of a project. I hope that this forethought becomes the norm. I hope that one day barriers won’t need to be broken because they won’t exist to start with.

Now I shall go about picking up my LEGO© pieces.

I wish I hadn’t put them there in the first place.