Norway’s New Law on Universal Design
That I write this on my old WordPress blog is something of a personal defeat. I had tried publicizing the matter on my Norwegian blog, but alas there has been very little response. However, I have not time to get myself feeling down over it. It is very important to get the word out over what is happening in Norway.
From the 1st July, with few exceptions, Norway introduced a Law that both dis-empowers people with websites as well as bureaucratically telling them how they are going to design them. You cannot decide to ignore the new Law either. If you do, you will be prosecuted under the new discrimination Laws. Not only will you end up fined, but since you are breaking the Law you will presumably end up with a criminal record far more injurious than any financial penalty.
I cannot overemphasize the sheer outrageousness of what Norway has done. Using the visually impaired as their pretext – and a cynical excuse indeed this is – the authorities now lay down for you a whole set of criteria that you shall abide by if your webpage is going to be legal. The Law applies to you regardless of your nationality, regardless of where your webpage happens to reside physically (ie. regardless of where the server or the domain of your page are in the world) so long as your principal readership is the Norwegian public. In practice, this will apply to people residing in our country and their webpages, since it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted if you live outside it (even though it theoretically would be possible, reading the new Law).
Under this shameful and cowardly pretext, which I am sorry to say some of the organisations for the blind have swallowed lock, stock, and barrel in their welcoming of this Law, the authorities now remove your freedom to design your page as you want. Firstly this applies to all new pages, but from the year 2021 every single webpage in Norway must be compliant. The Law now tells you:
- what colour combinations you can and cannot use
- what contrasts of text you can and cannot use
- standards for your fonts that you must follow (ensuring that they can be changed for the visually impaired)
- rules you must comply with before you put in your hyperlinks
- standards you must comply with when using headlines to your text
- mandating the use of alternative text when you use media (sound, video, or pictures). Apart from making the job of putting a video online much harder, it will also in practice make it impossible to post if the text you now are mandated to include of necessity requires you to use copyrighted lyrics (as in music) which you do not have the rights or the money enough to put online.
- criteria your publishing tools must satisfy (ie the programs you use to design your webpages)
- a whole list of about forty other technical criteria, including amonst other things translation of your content into other languages, that you MUST comply with by Law.
Google Translate this: http://uu.difi.no/veiledning/nettsider/krav-til-nettlosninger/krav-wcag
If you are reading this, you are probably thinking that I am overreacting and have got the wrong end of the stick. Not at all. Norway has appointed an entire Government Department to start following up, and making sure that this new Law is obeyed. You can find out yourself by Google Translating what they have on their own webpage www.difi.no and more to the point http://www.difi.no/digital-forvaltning/universell-utforming. I say Google Translate, because despite these bureaucratic busybodies’ interference with your freedom as a webmaster telling you how you must make your content fully accessible into other languages, they themselves have not completely translated everything they are telling us in Norwegian into English. I wonder why? Perhaps because the Law is more suited the old Soviet Union than a modern democracy like Norway (if Norwegians are generally too Law-abiding and meek to stand up and say what they think, perhaps this is not something they want to advertise to the whole world?)
So why should you be outraged if you are not already outraged over your freedom of expression being taken from you? Because in my opinion this has nothing to do with accessibility at all. It has to do with money. Already, in the wake of this Law, commercial firms are creeping out of the woodwork with offers to make people’s webpages Law compliant. My belief is they have been in on this all along, and this is just a cynical measure to force us to pay for what we have been doing ourselves for many years.
Even worse, there are cases – though I shall leave them for you to find yourself and shall not name anyone here for legal reasons – where the “solutions” you and I now are required by Law to buy if we are going to have a webpage are to all intents and purposes this FREE WORDPRESS PLATFORM. You heard me right. There are certain Norwegian firms now SELLING solutions using WordPress and other platforms that were intended to give you and me FREE publishing on the Internet. In practice, because of the new Law’s strict criteria, what is going to happen is that Norwegians will still have webpages – but they will have to pay a third party for the privilege of using what they previously have used completely free (so the average person can guard against not being in compliance with the Law). If you are a developer of WordPress, you should also be outraged. Can someone explain to me why if I were to try selling Google Earth (as some do), that would be called a SCAM…. but certain Norwegian firms are now using this Law to make money selling WordPress?
I beg you to check out what I have written. Every word is true. It is time the world knew about this, and if this isn’t the time to use the “F” word and tell these power sick people where to get off, I don’t know when there is one. I haven’t named any commercial venture here, but if you Google the new Law you will find people offering courses for several thousands of Norwegian Crowns as well as “Internet Packages” for those who want to make personal webpages. Some of these “Internet Packages” are basically barely modified WordPress or Joomla.
This Law won’t affect personal blogs, but it will affect all other private webpages you might have – as well as schools, school music bands, football clubs, churches, and any organisation that uses the Internet. All of these, thanks to corporate greed, are now going to have to start paying up if they want to have a webpage in Norway.
Dam them. Dam their hypocrisy, because this has nothing to do with their pretended accessibility (if you don’t like my colours or fonts, you can change those in your browser or operative system today). And dam their attack on our freedoms to hell!
This post is in response to a writing challenge on The Daily Post. You can see this here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/only-sixteen. It also marks the first anniversary of Adwick School’s demolition. The post refers exclusively to Adwick School, and (save for the poetic reference to others taking the throne) not to the two institutions that subsequently succeeded it.
For in truth our Emerald Queen was gone long before her ruined courts were razed. And I find that so hard to comprehend. What in my day was revered if though in dread, these days is scarcely remembered save in contempt. Therefore though those buildings be but newly gone, our world therein is much that longer lost.
While these ruins of our youth remained, they were defamed by those that came after us. A generation that had not seen the glories of our day, remembered them for other things. I too saw her slow decline, I watched her uniform in decay, and I heard of the infamy of her latter day. I still sighed when others took her throne. It was over then, not years later when the buildings went.
Those that scorn the memory of the Emerald Queen could not have known how once it was, and verily I remember her latter crew. They wore the uniform but as they did please; we were never once given the choice! Yet for all that we rebelled, secretly we admired the place – that final seat of absolute authority over the devices and desires of our own hearts! This is the greatest difference between us and them, and now and then!
That it should have ended the way it did feels so unreal. In my day the uniform was not for negotiation, and whatever I said I loved its distinctive colours of green, and white, and black. I said otherwise when I was a pubescent sixteen year old. Like my protestations against wearing a uniform, I celebrated my (so-called) independence the day I finally left – in both cases an attempt to assert myself in the adult world I entered, yet neither were seriously really meant.
Then came those after us, and they did mean those things they said. Among them those that said they would willingly press the button, that day our school came down. Then my foolish words came back to haunt me. The Emerald Queen was dead.
The Emerald Queen
Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!
Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love, and fear, and awesome dread?
Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!
With the stiff competition from Arctic Organist – there you’ll find the “countdown to the midnight sun” – and coming to you further South, Yorkshire Viking Norway cannot hope to beat Arctic Organist on being first. The Arctic Organist will have the midnight sun three days before we do.
So Yorkshire Viking Norway is going new ways to be first! We will now tell you that from today there is no more night. This deserves some qualification, since the last twilight you can see tends to disappear at about quarter to nine (this of course will soon be a quarter to ten when we adjust the clocks tonight). However, scientifically speaking the darkest time of our day is no longer night. That is because the sun is never lower than 18° below the horizon. This means that astronomical twilight never ends.
For those of you who are scratching your heads, there are three types of twilight. The first is what you get immediately after the sun has set, or just before it rises. This is defined as being the time when the sun is below the horizon, but no lower than 6°. This is called civil twilight. In this time, it is usually possible to continue outdoor activities without the aid of artificial light. Then you have the second type of twilight, which is called nautical twilight, when the sun is somewhere between 6° and 12° below. This type of twilight is what I call the “blue”-type, and in this you do need the aid of artificial light to continue doing things outdoors. Lastly there is the twilight when the sun is lower than 12° but no lower that 18°. The sun’s illumination is almost imperceptible, and unless conditions are optimal you won’t see it at all. Even if you do, it will be no more than a very faint trace on the horizon.
So there really wasn’t so much to make then of today’s great happening – other than beating Arctic Organist to the goal. The next landmark in our Arctic year will be on the 13th April. From then on nautical twilight never ends, so perhaps that is the point at which you would notice that it never really gets dark any more (weather can of course still alter this). Finally, before Arctic Organist beats us by three days in getting the midnight sun on the 21st May, from the 2nd May there is nothing more than civil twilight. That is to say that, in practice, it is by then light all day even if it is cloudy as well.
In Lødingen, the midnight sun will be visible from the 24th May. Tonight, as pointed out above, we move the clocks an hour ahead for summer time. Remember to change yours before you go to bed!
Newsflash! The Yorkshire Viking Norway is going to Germany!
Last year it was unfortunately not possible to carry out the planned holiday, announced in this blog. God willing that will be different this year. Yesterday I was able to buy one of the last tickets to the grand opening of the Bach Festival in Leipzig.
I’ll write a little more on the coming German Tour this weekend. In the meantime, I shall be changing my own rules a little.
With respect the propria and (school) tie, the propria were designed to spare the latter in order to keep it in good condition. The German Tour will however see both in use.
For a variety of personal reasons, it seems very fitting to me to use propria for this particular trip, and for those same it must therefore be even more so to use the real thing for the opening concert itself. Going to Germany is yet another irony in my life history, for those who remember me from my childhood. It is for that reason I mention this here. If you’re one of those, do get in touch!
More on this later. Watch this space.
I’ve been using SeaMonkey for two years. I’m amazed there aren’t more of us.
Many don’t even know what SeaMonkey is. I’m referring to the browser. Today a lot swear to Chrome, or Safari, and there are even a few who stick with Internet Explorer. It’s not these people who surprise me; it’s those who have chosen Firefox, and specially those who use that with Thunderbird I can’t quite understand.
Seamonkey does the work of both! This browser has the same “engine” as both Firefox and Thunderbird. It has the same technology underpinning it. The only difference is that you get everything in one process on your machine! Like the older Netscape, SeaMonkey is a “suite”. Indeed you get an address book, webpage builder, and chat module as well – and it still goes a lot quicker than Firefox in my opinion!
There’s something odd about us human beings. We’ll use lots of money on software like Microsoft Office when alternatives like Open Office are just as good, and won’t cost a penny! That said, I have to admit that SeaMonkey could have been promoted a lot better than it has been. Many people have quite simply never heard of it.
Nevertheless I strongly want to encourage you to try SeaMonkey. If you’re coming from Firefox, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable with something you’re unfamiliar with: you can actually make SeaMonkey look exactly like your old browser by using a so-called “theme”. So try SeaMonkey now!