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Re: Opinions please - flash site, flash navigation - but accessible alternative

From: Jim Byrne <j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 11:02:12 +0000
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B872F734.D495%j.byrne@gcal.ac.uk>
Thanks for all the replies to my request for opinions - plenty to think
about so far. 

In reply to some of the points raised.

The alternative vesion will be accessible to level 2 of the W3c Access

The developers are sincere in their belief that a flash based site would be
more appealing and more accessible to this particular audience. The audience
being people with learning difficulties. Whether this is true or not is a
different matter - and of course it doesn't depend entirely on the
technology - more on the implimentation of that technology.

I am not an expert on SVG, or Magpie so I don't know if they would be
appropriate alternative authoring tools/environments or not - and I assume
the developers do not have skill in this area.

Initially the site will be developed for a controlled environment - there
has been no agreement on the longer term plans. If the site became open to
the wider web I can see there would be problems.

The justification for the flash - from the developers point of view - is
that it will hold attention long enought to lead people into the
'information' part of the site. This may or may not happen - only time and
experience will tell.

I will not be in control of the design - that's why the client has chosen
developers/designers - the assumption is that they have expertise in this
area. My job is to ensure that the site is as accessible to as wide an
audience as possible (and to ensure that the client does not fall foul of
current legislation).

If I was designing and building the site myself I would not use flash - but
that is not to say it is good or bad. I am concerned with giving the right
advice - for this particular case.

All the best,

on 22/1/02 7:52 am, David Woolley at david@djwhome.demon.co.uk wrote:

>> What are peoples thoughts on this? would you advise agains this - or does it
>> not matter - as long as the alternative is accessible?
> How are the learning disabled expected to understand such an abstract
> distinction as that between a Flash and HTML page?  How are they
> expected to cope when the browser requires a plugin download, security
> override confirmation, or is a kiosk or set to box that is incapable
> of Flash, or locked into a version too old for the page?
> If the answer is that this is not the public internet, but a controlled
> environment, and you need the heavy animation, I would suggest using
> SVG, rather than Flash.
> I'm also a little concerned that people confuse word free with easy to
> understand.  I suspect that, for children of normal intelligence,
> animation is more about holding attention than understanding, with
> some risk that the tool is used for the animation rather than its
> real purpose.  Is your animation part of an entertainment, is it
> a carrot to trick people into getting at the real content, or is
> it there to explain by example.  In the first case, I would argue
> that you should use entertainment media accessiblity rules, not
> information media rules - i.e. treat it like a pop video.  In the second,
> you probably need a top advertising expert to get it right.  The third
> should allow you to limit animation to specific areas of the site.
> Although one will see lots of pictures in a nursery school they are
> generally pictures of concrete objects that are easy to recognize.  Most
> web site navigation is about quite abstract concepts, which require
> significant language skills, even if the language is graphical.
> Whichever way you go, make sure that you maintain tight editorial control
> and don't let the site designers control the design.  They are unlikely
> to be experts on non-verbal communication, but only on Flash (or may just
> want an excuse to go wild with Flash).

Jim Byrne Project Director, The Making Connections Unit, Glasgow Caledonian
University, Glasgow G4 OBA, 0141 331 3893

Everything you need to know about publishing accessible information on the

The Making Connections Unit: http://www.mcu.org.uk/

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Received on Tuesday, 22 January 2002 06:02:18 UTC

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