Hey, Intuit! What you got against “high contrast”

Intuit Turbotax 2007 gotcha for High Contrast

Well, we were moving right along with my 2007 taxes, ready to download the state form, and ran into a TurboTax gotcha.

I set my PCs in High Contrast theme with a dark background, cuts down the brightness for when I can see the screen. “High contrast” is one of the standard changes made by the very helpful Windows Accessibility Wizard and is probably used by 10000s of low vision ppeople, as well as many sighted looking for a more restful background. Apparently, TurboTax download for state forms was not tested in this configuration as a nasty error message came up at the start of the transition to state form mode, usually a piece of cake compared to the federal form.

The recommended change to a “classic” or non-contrast theme did not solve the problem, namely a failure of a Continue button to appear. Nor is the intuit recommendation, to “well, just make a slight change in your system” trivial, as it’s easy to screw up Display properties and also can be very hard to change back to High Contrast staring into a painfully bright screen. Sorry, intuit, that’s not fair And it didn’t work, anyway. Now, there is a free state CD on its way to me, responding to an 800 number, but not likely to get here before April 15. We did finish my taxes by moving to another household computer, and would have appreciated knowing of this pitfall to install there first. Thanks, again, intuit, for the advanced warning.

What about the market for accessible tax programs?

So, this is a pretty egregious screw-up by a major vendor, probably due to some combination of poor specification, lax qA, unfamiliarity with accessibility settings, and not many visually impaired testers in the intuit world.

Of course, I wasn’t trying to do my taxes alone, but rather to avail myself of some in-house teenagers with fast fingers to enter the data I compiled and explained to them. Indeed, I use tax preparation as a way to impart some financial lessons, explaining terminology, re-inforcing “income vs. expenses”, and, unfortunately, occasionally demonstrating confusion from lapses in record-keeping. This extra glitch didn’t help our family morale at all, nearing 90% done, and ready to move on to more fun activities.

I’d be interested in hearing from other visually impaired people:

  • Anybody else run into this intuit QA mess?
  • Anybody have any recommendations for an accessible tax program for next year?
  • Are there other software packages that have a bias against “high contrast” like this one, obscuring a single crucial button or operation?
  • Oh, wow, wouldn’t a flat tax be nice?


google search ‘turbotax “high contrast” state form”

TurboTax Buttons Don’t Show in Firefox Browser – TurboTax Customer care …
TurboTax – Income Taxes, Tax Preparation and Tax s

Turbotax at intuit.com


dates December 2008

  • AFB note on IRS efforts for accessibility. With eHealth and government infrastructurer cchange, will digital talking, DAISY, and other text representations gain more use?
  • Heard about TaxACT or TAXACS but could not find software.
  • After a mistake on 2006 taxes, I found great help from the IRS Tax Payer Advocacy service. A real helpful person answered immediately, corrected a misleading letter, and informed me of the 4 month backlog on processing ammended forms.

      Author: slger

      Susan L. Gerhart (slger) is a retired computer scientist. Her professional specialities included software engineering research, technology transfer management, and computer science education, see SLGer's Research Autobiography. Susan is active in a lifelong learning institute (OLLI) at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona. She has facilitated courses on podcasts, Twitter, the Singularity, and climate fiction. "As Your World Changes" blog describes her journey with vision loss into the spectacular world of assistive technology and the frustrating practices of accessibility. She writes with the NVDA screen reader, reads books from Bookshare on a BookSense, and listens to podcasts on an iPhone. slger123 on Twitter records her favorite articles and occasional comments on life and politics. Creative writing courses led her to undertake "A Chip On Her Shoulder", a novel asking the questions: "how did we get into the privacy mess of modern social media?" and "Are we now just 'packets of data formerly known as people'?" She's enduring the 2020 Pandemic era and autocracy challenge by analyzing changes in progress, promising, and unknown. Times sure are changing! Contact: slger123 at gmail.com

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