As you may remember, I wrote a post recently regarding adverts here on WordPress and how flashing/moving ads can be a real problem for those of us with brain issues or photosensitive epilepsy. In addition, including ads between paragraphs increases the pain of scrolling for those of us with hand and/or energy symptoms or makes it difficult to use a text reader. Because of these issues I’d been forced to pay for an advert-free site simply to make my blog disabled friendly, a situation I was (and still am) angry, frustrated and sad about.
I contacted the founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg, about the problem not expecting any kind of response because he must receive a million emails a week from whiny people on all sorts of issues, so imagine my huge surprise when this morning I received a reply to my mail 😮 Not directly from Matt, obviously, as he has a legion of staff but from a very nice customer relations person who has refunded me my upgrade fee of £36! I’m genuinely delighted but honestly, and I say this from my heart, I would have been happier to pay the goddamn fee and for them to tell me they would investigate the problem and solve it for brain-injured people everywhere. For them to tell me that making WordPress disabled friendly is on their radar. Even, dare I say it, a priority.
When you’re healthy you don’t give disability a second’s thought, and on the rare occasions it might fleetingly enter your consciousness you probably think “awww, poor things” and then go about your day. But we are not cute kittens. We are human beings who have as much right to participate in the world as anyone else, we just might need some accommodations in order to do so, and that includes not forcing us to pay money so that we don’t have a seizure from using a product. This is our legal right, not to mention a humane one.
So I wrote back to said lovely customer relations person and asked if they could raise the issue of troublesome advert content and placing as a matter of urgency with the Powers That Be. The really sad part is that I know from past experience with all manner of businesses it won’t happen. Nothing will change and this time next year I’ll be faced with the same bill to keep my blog advert-free (the nice customer relations person said as much in their mail to me).
The refund is a kind gesture, but it’s not a solution and we need more solutions which allow disabled people to participate in the world.