by Andrew Kirkpatrick

 Comments (32)


March 24, 2010

This post is subject to Adobe's Terms of Use.

We have good news about Flash and Flex accessibility support to share. Please check out the following statement:
Adobe understands how important it is for computer users with disabilities to be able to access the entire Internet. In recognition of the needs of computer users with disabilities, as well as the demands on developers who need to easily create applications and content which comply with global accessibility standards, Adobe is planning major upgrades to the accessibility support in Adobe Flash Player.
The upgrades expand on Flash Player’s existing support for accessibility via the Microsoft Active Accessibility interface (MSAA) and will enable accessibility across all three major operating systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux). The Flash Player will employ IAccessible2 from the Linux Foundation and the WAI-ARIA specification from the W3C to address user and developer needs and to ease interoperability with assistive technology vendors.
Additionally, enhancement are planned to the free and open-source Flex software developer’s kit (SDK) including improvements to complex components such as Flex datagrids and adding support for WAI-ARIA to simplify development of custom user interface components. These improvements are expected to start with the next major release of Adobe Flash Player (following Flash Player 10.1), and the first successive release of the Flex SDK.


  • By James Craig - 8:32 PM on March 24, 2010  

    Fantastic news. Two questions:
    1. The comment about Mac support was included in a sentence about MSAA. Does your post mean the Flash Player will support the AX APIs on Mac OS X?
    2. Unless there are plans to significantly change the SWF format, or unless the Flash Player is leveraging WAI-ARIA support of a containing view in the rendering engine, it’s not clear to me why the Flash Player would support the DOM-based WAI-ARIA spec. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to expose the roles and properties directly to the various accessibility APIs rather than adding another layer of abstraction? In other words, Adobe controls the SWF spec and the Flash Player, so why would it even need to use WAI-ARIA?

  • By Joe Clark - 3:56 PM on March 25, 2010  

    Andrew, please just tell us in plain English if Flash is gonna work with VoiceOver or not.

  • By Chris Blouch - 4:42 PM on March 25, 2010  

    Looking forward to having accessible flash on the Mac, one of the major thorns in the accessibility story for that platform. The mention of ARIA seems either out of place or big news. Does this mean Flash objects and action script will start supporting role and state attributes? That would be a novel application of what is generally an HTML DOM W3C planned standard.

  • By AWK - 5:32 PM on March 25, 2010  

    Some answers to questions:
    1) Yes, the plan is to utilize the OSX accessibility API support, resulting in the ability to access to Flash content using VoiceOver.
    2) ARIA in Flash. The Flash Player does already support a larger number of roles and states than are present in plain HTML. Many of the additional roles that are available via ARIA are already covered by the existing Flash accessibiity support. Not all, and the list of roles in ARIA is expected to grow, so being able to add these to the list that the Flash Player supports makes sense. Other aspects of ARIA that are of interest include the LabeledBy, DescribedBy, and particularly LiveRegion support. Using ARIA conventions within ActionScript and MXML will also simplify development of accessible applications and take advantage of the ability to transfer developer skills with ARIA to Flash and Flex development.
    Responding to Chris’s comment, I believe that ARIA is also used within OpenOffice and Eclipse, so I don’t regard ARIA as HTML-only.

  • By Andrew Meit - 8:18 PM on March 27, 2010  

    Cool, keep it up. Ok, now will Adobe TV use this enhanced stuff soon? I cant stand the small screens and when they are enlarged they are blurry. Come on, If am going to study Adobe TV for training, it better support fully Adobes accessibility guidelines/tools too. Am tired of waiting. I want to learn.

  • By Andrew Meit - 8:22 PM on March 27, 2010  

    oh and on Mac support. Finally. I want to drive flash stuff by voice and fully by keyboard so I CAN do it by voice. Dictate should handle flash stuff via your enhancements.

  • By Peter Korn - 10:40 PM on April 3, 2010  

    Andrew – a quick correction. ARIA is not used within Also, it’s my understanding that it isn’t used in Eclipse either. Perhaps you are confusing ARIA with IAccessible2? (though that’s not used [yet] in either).

  • By Andrew Kirkpatrick - 6:37 PM on April 4, 2010  

    Peter, you are correct – I misspoke, I did mean IA2.

  • By love it - 6:10 PM on June 9, 2010  

    Andrew, please just tell us in plain English if Flash is gonna work with VoiceOver or not.

  • By AWK - 11:28 PM on June 9, 2010  

    To “Love it” – since you copied another question from the comments, I’ll copy my answer from the comments “Yes, the plan is to utilize the OSX accessibility API support, resulting in the ability to access to Flash content using VoiceOver.”

  • By Dennis W. Bryan - 12:46 AM on August 31, 2010  

    need videos to work, not sure what I’m doing wrong..

  • By James Craig - 2:22 AM on September 4, 2010  

    I’d love to test a beta of the accessible SWF player on Mac, if you’re ready to show something. Thanks.

  • By Saad Attieh - 3:22 AM on October 6, 2010  

    That’s fantastic news. I shall be ready to spread the word to my visually impaired friends and the rest of the blind community. Talking about finding out, how exactly will I know when I can use flash with my Mac voice over? Will it be on the website? Or will we be alerted by email etc?

  • By Saad Attieh - 3:24 AM on October 6, 2010  

    Oh yes will there be an early version to test?

  • By Sailesh D - 11:06 AM on November 12, 2010  

    This is cool ! MSAA support for flash is really helpful. Are there any links from where I can download some examples?

  • By Chris Moore - 7:25 PM on December 5, 2010  

    Well it is almost 2011 and still no sign of the accessible Flash player for the Mac, when can we expect it?

  • By PCThomatos - 3:40 AM on December 16, 2010  

    Will this be included in 10.2?

    • By akirkpat - 7:10 PM on January 19, 2011  

      No, in March we said that it would be in the next major release, so basically FP11.

  • By Chris Moore - 10:31 AM on February 14, 2011  

    So when will FP11 be out then? I guess you are going to tell us that we have to wait for Adobe Reader 11 too? I really would love to be able to complete interactive forms etc with Adobe Reader instead of having to fire up VM Fusion.

  • By Eric - 6:43 PM on March 5, 2011  

    next major release in a pigs eye! WE, the blind, have been clamoring for accessibility in adobe products for a very long time. We are tired of waiting. we want our needs acknowledged and properly considered. 2nd class citizens (especially on then net) we are not! get a clue adobe (and others like you), the dragon is awakening. you don’t want to be down range when he’s filly awake and breathing fire!

    • By akirkpat - 9:08 AM on March 7, 2011  

      I appreciate that you want improvements sooner rather than later. I do believe that we are acknowledging the needs of many users with disabilities, and that is the major driver behind this significant improvement to the Flash Player.

  • By Bryan J - 4:14 PM on March 24, 2011  

    Dear Adobe Team,

    Today is the one year anniversary of Adobe’s announcement proclaiming,: “…Adobe is planning major upgrades to the accessibility support in Adobe Flash Player.” Unfortunately, this support has yet to materialize, and with the release of the inaccessible Flash Player 10.3 still pending, I’m left wondering how much longer we will be waiting to see even an alpha version 11, which I’m assuming will be the version that gets us to the promised land. Is there some reason you cannot break your silence and give us a status update regarding version 11?


    • By akirkpat - 4:29 PM on March 24, 2011  

      Flash Player 10.3 is not inaccessible. The improvements that we announced are still on track for the major release, but I can’t provide further timing information. The release cycle is greater than one year in length, so passing the 1 year anniversary of the announcement is not unexpected. If you are interested in joining the beta when it becomes available, let me know.

      • By Bryan J - 10:31 PM on March 24, 2011  

        Hello Akirkpat,

        Thank you for your quick response. You mentioned that Flash Player 10.3 is not inaccessible. Can you give us some tips regarding how a blind person can access Flash content on OSX 10.6 using FP 10.3?

        Yes, I would most definitely be interested in joining the beta program for FP 11. What information do you need from me and how can I privately get this information to you?

        Again, Thank you and kind regards,

        • By akirkpat - 10:43 PM on March 24, 2011  

          Ok, so we’re both writing from a specific perspective, that’s pretty clear. I can’t say that the Flash Player is accessible on OSX for a VoiceOver users any more than you can say that the player is inaccessible without any qualification at all. I’ll be in touch about beta testing.

  • By Saad Attieh - 7:51 PM on April 2, 2011  

    That would be amazing if voice over actually worked with flash player. How would I go about trying this? Please note I am totally blind so need to use voice over at every stage. Would it be possible for anyone else to be part of the beta programme?

    Thanks a lot

    Regards Saad

  • By David Eagle - 11:59 AM on May 29, 2011  

    I’ve just bought a Mac and it’s working great apart from the Flash inaccessibility with Voice-Over which renders the BBC IPlayer useless. I’d be interested in the Beta testing. Incidentaly, I was sent this link by the accessibility team at Apple; not sure if that is relevant but it suggests that Mac are following events with Flash accessibility.


  • By Brandon Misch - 2:25 PM on June 14, 2011  

    any updates on this support for the mac? it’s now 2011 and still flash isn’t accessible to the mac. I hope it gets fixed soon.

  • By Bryan J. - 6:18 PM on July 5, 2011  

    Just checking in. 15 months on and still no accessible flash player on the Mac. The latest public build of flash 11 from the adobe incubator site is, sadly, just as inaccessible as flash 10.

  • By Bryan J. - 6:45 PM on August 15, 2011  

    Flash Player 11 Public beta 2 is out with no documented or obvious accessibility improvements, even under OS X Lion. However, there is a glimmer of hope coming from Adobe after all these years: The latest beta of Adobe AIR 3 has added rudimentary support for VoiceOver.

  • By Bryan J. - 2:18 PM on September 7, 2011  

    Flash Player 11 RC1 is available as of 06 Sep 2011. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t appear to be any more accessible than previous Flash versions on MacOS. The release notes don’t mention accessibility except to note an incompatibility between jaws/window-eyes and IE 9 on Windows. Even the install process, which still inexplicably uses the non-standard “Adobe Install Manager” is not accessible using standard VO procedures. You’ll need to tab through the install manager choices, hope you’ve selected the correct options, and then listen closely for VO to announce “Done” to know the process is completed. Once installed, the same accessible Flash Player Preference Pane is available in System Preferences, but there are no settings related to accessibility.

    If anyone from Adobe is still monitoring this topic, could you please correct me if I’m wrong and describe how the Flash Player 11 Release Candidate can be used with VoiceOver on MacOS Lion?


  • By ashley - 1:42 PM on September 28, 2012  

    This is getting ridiculous… sort this out adobe. Nearing the end of 2012 and still no accessibility. It’s clear accessibility in your products is something of an afterthought.