Weblogs: Web Accessibility

Contribution of Flash Myth and Misinformation

Monday, August 13, 2007

Aral Balkan is hosting a Flash Myths and Misinformation discussion on his blog today.

Last year I wrote a series of posts about accessibility being in trouble, and one post about Flash compelled Nate Klaiber, on 5th October 2006, to send a comment through my website. To avoid the accusation of misquoting and taking out of context, I'm going to repost the entire comment.

RE: Flash and accessibility

If you TRULY think that Flash is accessible, then you have just lost any credibility with me (as a professional web developer). Show me how Flash is accessible (to everyone, not just disabilities). It requires a plugin, and is virtually blind to a very important visitor - the search bot. Flash STILL has not come up to par with being optimized with searching and search engines.

Flash tries to replace the medium itself and remove the browser. Though some of these are due to poor development practices, please show me a site that handles the following:

1 - Can send a direct link to a specific point in a flash movie via a URL.
2 - The back/forward button both work without a problem.
3 - Hovering over a link in flash will tell the status bar the destination of the link.
4 - The many issues that still revolve around printing.
5 - Flash display on other devices without issues.
6 - Flash that allows me to use my operating system and accessibility features such as increasing/decreasing text.
7 - Flash that allows me to use my browser controls to turn off pop-ups or other unwanted pieces (see number 3).

These are just a SMALL fraction of the issues with flash, and I have yet to see a website that addresses these issues. This has NOTHING to do with disabilities (or I could have brought in assistive devices, screen readers, and lynx) - and everything to do with usability.

Then, when you DO find me a site that handles those above - please explain to me why there is a need to use Flash versus CSS/XHTML/DOM.

I fail to see how Flash should be in the accessible developers toolbox - please enlighten me.

Nate Klaiber

I didn't bother replying at the time because it was clear to me that he missed the point about web accessibility being not about universality, but about people with disabilities.

But hopefully, Aral and friends will pull out the typical myths and address some of the howlers of the above comment.

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