Adobe Flash Accessibility: Best Practices for Design

by Erik Johnson

Norman Nielsen once said that “About 99% of the time, the presence of Flash on a website constitutes a usability disease.[1] However, this statement was made in 2000 when Flash lacked many of the accessibility functions that are available today. In 2002, the Flash Player began support for Microsoft Active Accessibility (a bridge between the Flash Player and screen access technologies) and eventually Freedom Scientific released a version of the JAWS screen reader which could access Flash material.[2] This was just the beginning and eventually Adobe created a version of the Flash application that enables developers to control the accessibility as an application is designed.

Targeting accessibility is the most important step to overcoming Nielsen’s stigma on Flash use in the web. Since “designing accessible content requires designers and developers to pay attention to the user experience[3], we can anticipate that making accessibility a priority will prove to be a catalyst for a complete user-centered design process. A usable and relevant Flash product will be produced; a cure to the usability disease. Continue reading


An Idiot’s Guide To Accessible Website Design

If you are designing web sites in the UK, you probably already know that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) mandates web sites be accessible by visually and physically disabled persons. But even if you work in a locale that doesn’t have any accessibility requirements yet, web designers have an obligation to make their clients’ web sites available and accessible to anyone who wishes to visit.

Why? According to a report by the Danish Center for Accessibility, as many as 25% of the world’s Internet users have some sort of visual, auditory or mobility disability. Continue reading