The Queen’s New Website

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 in Blog

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a Queen who was visually impaired. She was very kind and caring – for a Queen at least. She never had anyone’s head cut off and only occasionally had evil-doers thrown in the castle dungeon.

 

One day, the Queen had a very good idea. In some ways, not seeing very well didn’t affect her that much, because she had servants to do everything for her. But the Queen knew that life could be hard for her subjects who were visually impaired. They didn’t have servants to do things for them and many struggled to find work and make ends meet.

 

So the Queen called a meeting of her top health advisers in the castle’s executive conference room. The meeting’s purpose was to come up with ideas on how they could help all the visually impaired and blind people in her Queendom. One idea the Queen liked was having two big websites listing all the help and services and information available on eyes and seeing.

 

One website would be for oculists and other professionals working in eye health. It would have lots of technical information and big words. The other website would be for visually impaired and blind people and would be much easier to understand.

 

Conforms to the highest standards

“What an excellent idea!” said the oculist-in-chief. “That will be very convenient for my colleagues and I. And, of course,” he added quickly, glancing at the Queen, “We will make sure the website for visually impaired and blind people conforms to the highest standards of accessibility.”

 

Everyone agreed and there was much nodding and smiling around the big table in the executive conference room. I say everyone agreed, but actually when the self-congratulatory hubbub died down, one person timidly put up her hand and asked quietly: “May I say something? I think we may have overlooked a small point.”

 

Everyone turned and stared at the person who had dared to speak. She was a rehabilitation officer and – some thought — the most junior person in the room. Some of the oculists thought she shouldn’t have been there at all and glowered at her.

 

The glowering did not in fact have much effect, since the rehabilitation officer was visually impaired herself. She could not see the daggers (both real and metaphorical) pointing at her. Nor, of course, could the Queen, who invited the rehabilitation officer to make her point.

 

The rehabilitation officer cleared her throat: “I only wanted to ask whether the website for professionals should conform to the highest standards of accessibility too?”

 

Expense and bother

The oculist-in-chief started to say he didn’t see any reason why they needed to go to all that expense and bother, but stopped in mid-sentence. The Queen had raised her hand ever so slightly indicating that she wanted to speak.

 

Even before the Queen said a word, the oculist-in-chief realised his mistake and his face became pale and ashen. He tried to splutter some words of apology, but the Queen cut him off: “Of course the website for professionals should conform to the highest standards of accessibility too,” she said. “Otherwise it would appear that we had made the assumption that visually impaired people could not work as professionals.”

 

At this point, it’s traditional to say that everyone had a fine post-meeting lunch and lived happily ever after. But that was not the case for the oculist-in-chief and many of his senior colleagues.

 

A few days later, the oculist-in-chief announced that he had been thinking of retiring for some time. So, with deep regret, he had decided to hang up his occluder and spend more time with his family. Many of his senior colleagues discovered that their families had been missing them too. Others talked of the need to pursue new exciting opportunities or, in a few cases, were diagnosed with sudden, pressing health concerns.

 

The Queen, however, lived and reigned for many wise, peaceful and prosperous (for herself and her subjects) years. The once timid rehabilitation officer became oculist-in-chief and oversaw a vast improvement in services and support for all the visually impaired and blind people in the land. So they at least did live happily ever after.

 

John Sanders

 

February 2018

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