Odeon Revisited

Yesterday (10th) was the 3 month anniversary of Matthew Sommerville’s Accessible Odeon site being taken offline. I have been updating my initial post as I’ve received information, but thought I’d post an update on just how things have developed.

To start with, I never did get a response from Odeon and I had assumed that nothing had really changed, until I got an email from Matthew saying that they had done something (ironically, on the same morning Radio 4 mentioned it on one of their shows). Odeon have added a text only version of their film listings and an ‘Accessibility Information’ page that can be reached from big blue buttons on their home page. They also offer a freephone ‘internet booking number’ which you can use to book your seats.

Now, when I wrote the last post, in an effort to help bring to light the stupidity of Odeon in closing a site that worked and not changing their own site to fill in the void, I’m not sure that this was what I had in mind. Somewhere, in the optimistic recesses of my soul I was thinking that if enough people joined together to tell Odeon they weren’t happy with the site they would change it, and that, in light of possible bad press, they’d call in a design firm or get on to their web team and get it updated to a nice new, spangly, standards compliant site that everyone could access. That hasn’t happened, but I’m pleased that they have at least added a more accessible option.

They haven’t made the entire site accessible, you can’t order your tickets online unless you have IE and from a design perspective it’s not the ideal solution. It feels like a somewhat lazy approach to solving the accessibility issue. On the other hand, they did get off their asses and do something in response to the public outcry, they obviously sat down and thought about it, and more importantly, they did so from a disabled user’s perspective (and the phone line is freephone). I’m not saying they’ve completely solved the problem, certainly not for all users, and the inability to order online is a significant issue in my eyes, but while they need not be lauded for their approach, they should perhaps be congratulated for at least tackling the issue and not hiding their head in the sand as they, and others, have done in the past.

As for the rest of us, well, I think we did it, I’d certainly chalk that up as a victory, not a decisive victory maybe, but a victory nonetheless. We, ladies and gentlemen, my fellow internet activists, made a difference and proved, once again, the significance the internet can have in changing the world. I’m not giving up on getting a totally accessible and usable Odeon site, but I’m prepared to cut them a little slack. A word to the execs of Odeon though, don’t wait three years to make the next change, start the ball rolling now.

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