Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

A word is worth a thousand pixels

by Rob - March 18th, 2015.
Filed under: Rants.

An email I sent to the Writers’ Trust of Canada this morning:

Hi! I was going to cut-and-paste news of Joseph Heath’s award win to my Facebook wall — when I discovered I can’t because your email newsletter doesn’t consist of actual text but only graphics — pictures of text. Might I gently suggest this isn’t wise?

It not only makes it hard to share content from it, as I was about to do, but also makes it impossible to search for the content (try to find your own message in your Gmail inbox by searching for any of the words that are supposedly in it; you can’t — because there are no words in it, only pixels). Only spammers trying to avoid getting caught by filtering algorithms routinely use graphics instead of text.

It also denies those with poor eyesight the ability to use screenreaders or to increase the font size while having the text reflow to fit the width of the window; many agencies would consider messages such as the one you just sent to fail to meet internal, as well as governmental, accessibility guidelines.

Robert J. Sawyer online:

4 Responses to A word is worth a thousand pixels

  1. Well put.

    By the way, your WWW series is what opened my eyes to what “accessibility” really means in a digital platform, thanks.


  2. As a disabled person, I greatly appreciate your pointing this out to people. Not only does it deserve attention, but it means a little more from someone not complaining on the basis of being disabled: from us, it can be dismissed as whining but from you, it shows that others notice as well.

    Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much, Charlie and Lori!

  4. At least they put all the text in the ALT tags. Still, it’s pretty funny that the Writers’ Trust couldn’t have put out their newsletter without the use of a graphics processing tool like Photoshop.

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