Seizure warning - Ravelry
Six days ago, Ravelry rolled out its new branding and redesign and at Countess Ablaze we have made the decision to strip our Ravelry profile, although we will update with new yarn bases so our beloved customers are not impacted on their project pages, and I’ve gone through our website today to remove all URLs to Ravelry. No URLs will be made here.
I’m not going to talk about the aesthetics of the new design but I want to discuss accessibility.
Day six and there are numerous references to increased anxiety, agitation and fatigue as well as eyestrain, migraine, dizziness, seizures, visual disturbances, RSI from scrolling through much more space.
There’s something missing; a response.
I’ve gone from disappointed and mildly pissed off to absolutely incredulous with rage.
Ravelry is a community that prides itself on inclusive and progressive values as we do, like so many of us do and I want to take a moment to lay out the issues I have and why we made the decision to no longer support Ravelry.
- There was a lack of extensive testing and as far as I am aware, accessibility was not at its core.
The onus should NOT be on people with accessibility problems, like me, but on the website being designed to be accessible at its very core. There’s a distinction. The half-arsed apology, complete with a self-congratulatory medal - now changed to a heart because sure “we hurt you but here’s some love”, excludes the many, many people who have never experienced any of the reported health problems before who have found themselves to be experiencing them for the first time.
ETA - I was reading the forums when I fell ill so had gotten through the login animation which has apparently now been slowed down. This guide from Mozilla talks about many ways that website design can trigger seizures. I suspect for me it was the glaring white, sensory overload of a lot of colours, flickering and high contrast black lines. I can't speculate anymore than this and now I've had one seizure (I've been seizure free since Nov 2018) I'm at higher risk for another.
- By day six, with known and very numerous health risks, one of two things needed to happen followed by a third.
- Pull the new design down, get experts to look at it, get it extensively tested beyond the small crowd they invited, clear up the health triggering effects and relaunch.
- A health warning. A seizure warning. SOMETHING. This is why I will no longer put a URL to Ravelry and have stripped our website of them because I do not wish to put you in harm’s way. If you spot one we’ve missed, do let us know.
- An apology. A proper one. Without a fucking medal.
- I have very serious concerns about how Ravelry handles change.
When I returned, our bricks and mortar shop was targetted by a political group as Ravelry’s announcement hit international news. We were advised by the police how to react and I ultimately mentally broke down, came off social media for several weeks and tried to recover. I remember sitting in the pub with industry colleagues shaking and crying because of the fear. I am autistic, as are most of my employees and that was a frightening time that took a good long while to recover from.
Ravelry has lost my trust. I will no longer refer our customers to them and I feel dreadful for the designers who are caught in the crossfire of this. Their lack of response has endangered the livelihoods of so many, at a time when society and public health is so precarious.
I want to take a moment to thank every ally who has stepped up to advocate on our behalf. Having health problems is exhausting and whilst I cannot speak for everyone affected, only myself - Thank you, truly.
As for inclusivity and progressive values? Not if you're disabled, have chronic health conditions or neurodiverse.