Want FEMA Aid? Use IE6

Talk about kicking ’em while they’re down… The administration’s mind-numbing obliviousness in responding to Katrina extends all the way down to its web developers and their managers. Turns out you can’t even apply for FEMA aid online unless running Internet Explorer 6 under Windows.

…people using Macintosh or Linux computers are unable to file a claim online — although they can do so by calling the emergency agency by phone. A statement online says, “If you would like to apply for Federal Disaster Assistance by telephone, you can contact us at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or for the hearing/speech impaired at TTY: 1-800-462-7585. The current hours and days of operation are 24 hours per day 7 days per week. Currently the lines are quite congested and the best time to call is 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. EDT.

I suppose it’s not so bad to ask people to call in the middle of the night, since their lives are in chaos anyway. This is right in step with the copyright office’s recent move to limit applicants’ choice of browsers.

The bonus fallout from this approach is that a lot of people will get the false impression that IE must be a better browser, or that it can do important things that other browsers can’t. The reality is that the developers are simply working with blinders on. It’s not hard to build cross-platform web applications — there are millions of them out there, and nothing technologically makes FEMA or copyright applications easier to program for IE. It’s an arrogant, discriminatory — and in this case potentially dangerous — “one ring to rule them all” mentality.

Imagine the outrage if government offices decided only to help Christians, or caucasians, or cell phone users, or SUV drivers.

Music: Henry Threadgill :: Official Silence

4 Replies to “Want FEMA Aid? Use IE6”

  1. Imagine the outrage if government offices decided only to help Christians, or caucasians, or cell phone users, or SUV drivers.

    I thought that’s the way it actually was?

  2. The best part is calling the number gets you in touch with an operator who will happily mail the forms to you if you provide an address.

    We found that changing the user-agent header is enough to get past the IE6 requirement. Then we found that FEMA wouldn’t allow us to set up our computer lab at the local convention center. Oh well.

  3. I was told to contact your agency & you would GIVE $2000.00 per house hold for the loss that incured from Katrina,If so we have great damage to proptery & also our timber [which is our livelyhood] over 2000 feet lying on the ground Is this true??? Deloras Eason PS I do not need a lone just money to help clear up some of the debre Thank you

  4. Family members with no home, no job……nothing but a hope to relocate to a new city and start over were supposed to receive some help from FEMA to start over. They were told by the FEMA office in Houston, TX that if they were NOT on goverment assistance before the hurricane, they most likely wouldnt receive anything…….What? Hard working people get nothing when non working welfare scum get it all?..Or is it because the people I know are White? Maybe Bush hates them too?

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