The (in)accessible Government initiative

OK… here’s how you don’t do it:

I’m applying for a government document online. This is fantastic, of course – the government of Canada makes it possible for me to apply online and ensure my documents are in order before I bring them in person to a physical office and submit them. Let me start by giving credit to the Government for at least going this far.

Now for how it all went wrong:
I sign up for my online ID (time-consuming, but appropriate), and begin the process of filling out the form, when I’m confronted with a message that the website needs to ensure that I have a supported browser. That’s OK (I think to myself), I have the latest version of OSX, fully patched, and the latest version of Firefox, also fully patched. Should be a cinch. I’m actually a little encouraged as the little progress indicator has a clear “Mac OSX” kind of look about it. BZZT. Apparently, I can only use IE6 on Windows to access the government of Canada website. (grrr… didn’t I pay a whole whack of taxes when I bought this PowerBook?) Anyway, I’m savvy: I switch to Virtual PC and use IE6 to access the site. Here’s where it gets strange. Remember that I just got told that I can’t use my Mac…

I’m told as I go through the whole process again, that I need to use IE6 on Windows because among other things I need to use Java (you know, the cross-platform one), and that I need to install the Sun JVM, because the Microsoft JVM isn’t supported. It helpfully adds that the Sun JVM is installed by default in OSX, so if I’m using a Mac I won’t need to install it. So, to make a long story short, there’s nobody in the world who has, by default, the configuration needed to access the government of Canada’s online forms. Nice.