Get your torches and pitchforks!
The blog has gone quite a while without me writing about twitter drama, but that is about to come to an end now. Blind twitter is all riled up and flipping out over something someone said on the Windows Weekly podcast. Spoiler alert, all the rage and offense is being blown out of per portion and there is 0 reason for any of it. People just seem to want to be offended, but of course I’ll show why this is all based on someone taking everything out of context to manufacture outrage.
I won’t be following the normal old man rant format in this post, instead I’m just winging it and getting all the information out so all this nonsense can come to an end. If you disagree you can subtweet, or just leave a comment here on the blog.
Where Did This All Start?
If you follow enough blind people on Twitter you are seeing quotes thrown around like.
“Accessibility at any cost is just a brain dead mentality.”
“There’s this belief that anything that you add that is accessible is a win.”
These are all things that Paul Thurrott said on the Windows Weekly podcast published on Jan 10 on episode 603. Now I have to say I have never listened to this podcast, and I’ll never listen to it again,not because of what was said, but because tech podcasts aren’t my cup of tea.
In regards to the above quotes, they do sound pretty bad, they probably piss a lot of people off. I have no doubt this was the full intention of selecting these quotes, and not putting them in context. In addition to the above there was also an audio clip being shared by @Bartholomue on twitter.
I’ll put that below for everyone to listen to.
This made a lot of people upset, sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? This guy must hate blind and disabled people. Now I’ll admit, if this was all I know I’d think wow that guy is a douche and probably jump on board with disliking him. I wouldn’t Tweet about it, but that’s just because I’m weird like that.
What I did instead of getting mad and offended is figure out what podcast this came from, then I went to their youtube channel and listened to the episode. After listening to everything, and getting the context and what was actually being talked about, now I’m only annoyed at everyone who is piling on about this on social media. Everything everyone is assuming is completely wrong, nothing else, wrong and I’ll explain why.
The Truth & The Whole Story
The first thing everyone needs to do is listen to everything in full context, because this is very important. Any random person can take a recording and cut out bits and pieces to make someone sound like a terrible person. I’m not assigning motives to anyone, but this was the result of the above quotes and audio clip.
Here is the podcast directly from youtube, it is starting at 56:40 and you need to listen to it until about 1:05:40.
Breaking It Down With Full Context
1. One of the quotes people are complaining about is when Paul Thurrott says “Accessibility at any cost is just a brain dead mentality”
Lets think about this sentence, and see what’s wrong with it? I’m sure people have lots of ideas, and they are saying that is a terrible thing to say. But is it really? If accessibility is the only thing considered when making something, and normal usability is sacrificed, is that a good thing? I would say no every time. There is a balance that needs to be found between accessibility and normal usability. Something should be 100% usable for the majority of the population, and it should also be accessible for those who are blind or with other disabilities. I’m not a petty person who would say because so many things have not been accessible in the past sighted folks can just deal with it, this fixes nothing and just makes everything worse.
In the quote being shared around Paul Thurrott is not saying anything controversial, or anything someone could label as ablest. He is quite simply saying make it accessible, but it shouldn’t be the b all end all. In fact if you continue listening he says, and I quote.
I don’t mind it being an option. What I mind is that it happens at full volume without any opportunity to stop it.
This is directly followed by a discussion about Apple, and how Windows should just use Apple’s way of doing it. If there is no input from the user after 1 minute kick on Cortana. Everyone has been saying for years Mac is more accessible than Windows because you can do all this on your own without help, so is this now a bad thing? I see nothing controversial in this statement, make Windows work like Apple when setting up the OS. Everyone is happy, it is 100% accessible and 100% usable for those with no disability. There is simply nothing offensive or wrong being said here. The only way it sounds bad is if you quote it out of context and fail to mention what is said after, and in the other 10 minutes of the conversation.
2. Later on in the discussion we come to the audio clip that got shared around. This was very selectively cut so what is said directly after it isn’t included. If it was no one would be upset about what was said because context is everything here.
First off Paul says
If your vision is that bad…the act of setting up Windows 10 is not a priority. I mean it’s something that is going to happen once and you probably have someone else who can help you with that.
People are angry with Leo Laporte laughing when Paul says it is not a priority. Step back and think about why he is laughing.
If you can’t see then being able to set up an OS is very low down on the list of problems you might face in life. This is very true, and this is supported by what Leo says directly after Paul says the above. Leo immediately says he doesn’t agree with that, meaning that a blind person should not have to use help and should be able to do it on their own. Then Paul says
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it shouldn’t be there. It shouldn’t be the default.
They then discuss how Microsoft should do what Apple does and after 1 minute kick in the Cortana music and speech. Again if you have something wrong with this then I don’t know what else to say, this is a perfect middle of the road solution to make everyone happy.
As you listen more you find out the issue isn’t with accessibility, not even a little bit.
I had never heard this Cortana intro before, but after listening to it I can agree it is annoying as hell, but that is my opinion. All of what Cortana says is completely unnecessary, the only thing Cortana needs to say is what the shortcuts are for accessibility, not the music and other stupid stuff. No one ever said anything about taking accessibility out, or getting rid of accessibility in any way. The only complaint is with how Cortana kicks in right away and how loud it is, and how it is not necessary.
There is nothing here, no one is saying anything about accessibility, and how it should be removed. That isn’t even discussed because they aren’t talking about it. Everyone is acting like that is the topic being discussed, it simply is not what they are talking about.
3. Everyone is making up their mind based on some very short clips and quotes which are out of context. If you continue listening to the end of the conversation you find out that Paul Thurrott’s son is deaf! Yeah he is in the accessibility community already. So now will everyone please ask themselves if someone with a disabled child is going to advocate for removing accessibility from Windows?? Paul’s entire issue is that he feels Microsoft is not doing this the best way, there is a better way to make everyone happy and still be accessible. Hell just do a google search for “Paul Thurrott + accessible” and you’ll see he’s written a few blog posts on accessibility in the past. This guy is being labeled as a bad person for no reason at all. Listen to the end of the conversation and you’ll have all the context you need, and see how you feel afterwards.
Conclusion and Parting Thoughts
It seems today everyone is quite literally looking for something to be upset over. Outrage really is a form of currency, and whoever can make the most of it is the richest person on social media. This whole situation is a giant nothing-burger. I don’t even know what else to say, there is just nothing here, this was based on quotes and an audio clip taken out of context to make someone look bad. The only intent was to piss off blind people and make them rage tweet about Paul Thurrott. This whole thing just pisses me off if I’m being honest. Not everyone is going to go find the original podcast and listen to the whole thing to see what was actually being talked about.
I’m curious what your thoughts were only having read the quotes and listened to the short audio clip posted, and what your thoughts are after listening to the entire 10 minute conversation on the topic. Leave them below on this blog post and we can continue the discussion there. I honestly don’t see how anyone can continue to be upset, but people always amaze me.
If 2018 taught people anything, it should be to go to the source. So much of what you see is crafted to make people have a response like what we just saw on social media. The point isn’t to inform or to fix something, it is to get people riled up and create a twitter mob. In this case it was completely successful.
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