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RE: Flash News Flash: It's Accessible

From: Bob Regan <bregan@macromedia.com>
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 06:23:21 -0700
Message-ID: <5DB489EF44C5444A9974E3E934CD834C01B2F072@ex-600town-03.macromedia.com>
To: "'Joe Clark'" <joeclark@joeclark.org>, WAI-IG <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

I thought I would add my two cents here to the conversation. 

I really don't want anyone to walk away with the perception that Flash is now 'accessible' or that Macromedia has completed its work in making Flash a more usable tool. We surely have more to do. 

MSAA was a convenient standard for Macromedia to adopt initially. It is well documented and fairly well established. It helped provide an achievable first target for our engineering teams. It is not our intention to stop with Windows nor to rely on MSAA to the exclusion of other standards on other platforms. Adopting MSAA was simply a first step. 

Beyond, that we still face several challenges within the current MSAA implementation. First, we need to broaden support for the Flash player. To date, we are working with Freedom Scientific. As soon as we have something to announce, I will be happy to make that announcement to this group. Both Macromedia and Freedom Scientific are committed to adding support for the Flash player into JAWS. I am also looking to broaden support with other forms of assistive technologies. One of the advantages of MSAA is that it allows us to look at a range of disabilities and assistive technologies. 

Second, we still need to develop a solid understanding of best practices in Flash design for accessibility. Like HTML, Flash content is not accessible by default. However, Flash design tends to be more complex than HTML. It is my responsibility to document techniques related to the design of accessible web content using Flash MX. Perhaps the most important thing I can do is ask people to play with the limits and possibilities of Flash. As we get a better understanding of what works and what doesn't, I can publish that information for Flash designers on our site, build tools that guide authors to those techniques and add those features to future releases. 

Thanks to all for their comments. 


Bob Regan
Senior Product Manager for Accessibility
1025 Emerald Street 
Madison, WI 53715 
608.239.8160 (mobile)

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Joe Clark [mailto:joeclark@joeclark.org]
>Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2002 5:19 AM
>Subject: Flash News Flash: It's Accessible
>>1. Users must have the latest version of the Flash Player installed.
>Oh, so what. Time marches on. And it's free.
>>2. Users must use a screen reader that supports Microsoft Active
>>Accessibility (MSAA) (Do most versions of JAWS and other popular
>>readers currently IN USE support MSAA?)
>No real choice about that. The access infrastructure on other
>platforms is too skimpy.
>>3. Navigating between Flash and non-Flash content, using the
>>keyboard only, is virtually impossible.
>And they may not be able to fix that.
>>4. Elaborate Flash movies may present information/content in
>>multiple places, simultaneously. Screen Reading software can only
>>describe information/content in one place at any given time.
>Nature of the beast.
>>5. Developers need to understand how to use the new accessibility features
>>of Flash properly, and then they must take the time to do so.
>Nature of the beast.
>>Given the above, I think it is premature to conclude that all
>>accessibilityissues with Flash have been eliminated with the latest
>>release of Flash MX.
>Yeah, but nobody went *that* far.
>I have a piece coming out at AListApart.com this Friday on Flash access.
>     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
>     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
>     Weblogs and articles <http://joeclark.org/weblogs/>
>     <http://joeclark.org/writing/> | <http://fawny.org/>
Received on Wednesday, 24 April 2002 09:24:00 UTC

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