Posts in Category "Flash"

March 23, 2009

Accessibility webinars on Flash and PDF

The Paciello Group is doing a series of free webinars on PDF and Flash accessibility. The first webinar on PDF accessibility and WCAG 2.0 was recorded for asynchronous viewing, and the slides from the PDF accessibility talk are available for download.
Next week there are two additional webinars. March 31 the topic is Flash accessibility and WCAG 2.0, and April 1 the topic is PDF forms and WCAG 2.0 (Correction: the PDF Forms webinar is April 8. See the Paciellogroup blog for complete information).
All of the 90-minute webinars are captioned as real-time events (using Adobe Acrobat Connect) and the captions are included in the recorded sessions.
The webinars will be held at noon Eastern time at You can find out more about the webinars at the Paciello Group’s blog – see the post titled The Paciello Group and Adobe Present WCAG 2.0 Accessibility Webinars for Flash and PDF for more information. Set your calendars!

4:12 PM Permalink
February 3, 2009

WebAIM Screen Reader Survey: A Closer Look at Flash and PDF Results

WebAIM released the results of a survey of screen reader users and the results are interesting for what they tell us about HTML use, but the commentary around user’s thoughts on Flash content and PDF documents is of particular interest at Adobe. The results state that 71% of screen reader users responding feel that Flash content is very difficult (34%) or somewhat difficult (37%) to use, and 48% of screen reader users responding feel that PDF documents are very difficult (17%) or somewhat difficult (31%) to use. I think that it is worth putting some additional context around these numbers.
Given that the Flash player has supported accessibility since 2001 when Player 6 was released, and the Flash authoring tool provides support for developers to add accessibility to Flash content, why are Flash developers not adding necessary information to their projects? Some are, to be certain — there are examples of Flash being used properly such as what is offered at Social Security ( and the U.S. Department of Education ( web sites, but you don’t need to look too far to find inaccessible examples.
Flash is a tool to make content, but many developers aren’t providing the necessary information. We’ve published books with information relevant to the topic such as Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance which I contributed chapters to and Universal Design for Web Applications: Web Applications that Reach Everyone which Matt May on the Adobe accessibility team co-authored with Wendy Chisholm. We also have information available at the Adobe Accessibility web site — please point these resources out to Flash developers who don’t make their content accessible.
The story is similar for PDF documents – there is tooling readily available to make PDF documents and forms accessible, and many authors do take the time to add necessary accessibility information, but not everyone does. For PDF, please point authors to the Acrobat 9 accessibility guides at or to the Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance book chapter on PDF.
I feel that it is important to not over generalize from the WebAIM survey data for Flash and PDF. It is fair to say that users are rating these formats less favorably than any of us would like to see but that does not mean that the formats are not accessible. Users have interacted with examples in these formats from which they have formed impressions but that does not mean that developing accessible content in Flash or PDF is impossible. This idea is echoed in Adrian Higginbotham’s comments to the WebAIM blog announcement of the survey results where he acknowledges challenges with some Flash content but finds success with others.
Flash and PDF are tools and the accessibility of the content depends on whether the developer is making an effort to produce accessible content. Please encourage authors and developers to handle accessibility properly.

10:36 AM Permalink
July 22, 2008

Draft Documentation for Flash Accessibility Implementation

Accessibility in the Flash Player and in products that depend on it is very important, and there is a lot more built in support for accessibility than most people are aware of. The Flash Player supports over 60 different role constants and has mechanisms for developers to set role and state information for controls, has methods for getting and setting values, and allows developers to define the accessibility location information for a control to help screen magnification tools restrict the magnified viewport, control the accessibility API focus and selection, and more.
In the documentation package linked below you’ll find:

  1. Documentation of the flash.accessibility package and AccessibilityImplementation class
  2. Documentation of the mx.accessibility package and accessibility implementation classes for Flex components
  3. Improvements to “getting started” articles about accessibility, including a information about implementing accessibility on a sample component.

Developers have asked for this information, which has been until now not publicly shared. The documentation that we are now providing is a draft that we would love to hear comments on. To comment on this, please either log bugs on our Flex bug database at, orat the Flex Documentation blog entry on this topic, or you can leave comments here.
The documentation is the result of the efforts of the Flash Player, Flex, and Adobe Corporate Accessibility teams – let us know your thoughts!
UPDATE: I’ve modifed the files for download in response to questions from some reviewers. The zips previously contained files for accessibility that had changed in the langref, but this resulted in flash.accessibility.AccessibilityProperties apparently being removed and replaced by flash.accessibility.AccessibilityImplementation. This is not the case, both are present. Sorry for the confusion.
Download the “accessibility-only version of the Flash and Flex accessibility documentation.

10:34 AM Permalink
May 28, 2008

Webmaniacs Talk on Flex Accessibility

I spoke at the Webmaniacs conference in Washington DC last week. My speaking slides are available for download.

11:20 PM Permalink
May 23, 2008 Put to Good Use

Steve Faulkner wrote a good post at The Paciello Group’s blog on screen reader detection ( His points are all quite fair and it is worth noting that what the Flash Player does is detect the presence of a running MSAA client, which is broader than screen readers.
This technique shouldn’t be entirely discounted, however, for certain kinds of use that take advantage of the facts, which are that all Flash-reading screen readers will cause the player to set the property to true, and that there are few MSAA clients that are likely to be running, although some are likely to be non-screen reader assistive technologies.
Here’s a few ways that .active can be used that will benefit screen reader users, and won’t be disruptive to other potential users, or may be beneficial:
1) Replacing inaccessible or difficult to use controls. If using a complex control in a Flex or Flash application, or a control that has not been improved for accessibility, you can swap that control for an equivalent one when .active is true. In one of our Flex 2 sample applications there is a slider control with two slider thumbs that the user uses to set a start and end date for the data being displayed. When an MSAA client is active, this slider is replaced with a pair of combo boxes, one setting the start date and one for setting the end date. The idea of a double-slider makes sense for UI designers, but there isn’t a way in MSAA to express a double-slider, so a simple replacement here is justifyable.
2) Offering users additional options when .active is true that are likely to be beneficial is another possible use. For example, a developer might present a pop-up dialog that asks if the user wants audio description on. There would be a UI control that would allow all users to turn audio description on and off, but this would be an improvement that would be easier for blind or viisually-impaired users and that wouldn’t adversely affect any other user who has a system that uses MSAA in some other way.
3) Pausing video. In a video made in Flash a developer might make the video paused when loaded when .active is true. If a screen reader user needs to navigate to the pause or stop buttons for a video while the video is playing they will find that very difficult due to competing audio tracks from the video and the screen reader. Allowing users the choice of whether video plays by default is nice for other users also, but causes more problems for blind and visuall-impaired users.
These are just examples to show that using .active to make good decisions is not impossible — I agree with Steve’s post that I would distill down to “.actve is not only set to true by screen readers”. Think carefully about how you may use it.
NOTE: .isActive is an AS2 method, .active is an AS3 property – see for migration information

11:40 AM Permalink
March 20, 2008

CSUN 2008 Talks

Last week, members of the Adobe accessibility team attended the California State University’s “Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference” – aka CSUN. This is a big event in accessibility each year and if you are interested in accessibility you should consider attending in 2009.
Adobe participated in four talks at CSUN:

  1. IAccessible2 Development: An Accessibility API that Works for Assistive Technologies and Applications. This was a panel discussion involving IT and assistive technology companies.
  2. Accessible PDF Authoring Techniques. This was a talk by Greg Pisocky and Pete DeVasto from Adobe and Brad Hodges from the American Foundation for the Blind. The presentation slides are available.
  3. Rich Internet Applications with Flash and Dreamweaver. This was a talk by Matt May and Andrew Kirkpatrick discussing Flash and AJAX accessibility, related to Adobe’s SPRY framework, Flash and Flex. The presentation slides are available.
  4. Accessible Internet Video. This was a talk by Andrew Kirkpatrick on how you can deliver the most accessible experience in video online using Flash. The presentation slides
    are available. I’m going to post the main demonstration example shortly.

Please take a look and let us know if you have any comments.

9:16 AM Permalink
December 17, 2007

Captions on CNET TV

CNET TV is providing captioning for the videos on their site as of last week. The video is in Flash and uses the DFXP caption support we put into Flash CS3. Check it out yourself at

12:00 PM Permalink
December 11, 2007

Introducing AIA

A group of IT and assistive technology companies have formed a group designed to address engineering challenges around accessibility issues. The group’s name is the Accessibility Interoperability Alliance, or AIA. Adobe is part of this group because it is important to have improved methods to provide straightforward interoperability between IT products and assistive technology tools.
Of particular interest is the project that seeks to harmonize existing accessibility APIs such as IAccessible2 and UIAutomation. With the wide variety of assistive technologies available today, both these tools and Adobe’s players need reliable and standard methods to participate in information exchanges with assistive tools. There are too many tools for Adobe’s players to support directly through customization and similarly the assistive technology tools have too many IT products that they need to support so they too cannot provide custom solutions across the board. The way forward is through better and harmonized (or converged) APIs.
The AIA press release is at:
The AIA group web site is

12:43 PM Permalink
December 4, 2007

New Flash Player with MSAA on Firefox and H.264 Video

In case people haven’t heard, we have a new version of the Flash Player available as of last night. The features that I’m most excited about are the support for H.264 video – so now you can have high-definition video and you can provide captions using the caption support released in Flash CS3 - and the addition of MSAA support for Firefox so users of screen readers such as JAWS and Window-Eyes that use Firefox for browsing the web can interact with Flash content. The new player version is 9,0,115,0 and you can get it at

12:02 PM Permalink
July 3, 2007

Flash Captioning Seminar

I (Andrew Kirkpatrick) am delivering a seminar on Flash captioning Tuesday, July 10. See details below and sign up on our website.
Title: Captioning in Flash
Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 11:00 A.M. PDT
Adding captions to video in Flash is essential to ensure that users who are deaf or hard of hearing can access Flash video content. Adobe Flash CS3 includes a new component to make captioning easy and effective, and a variety of captioning tools are available to help developers define a process that fits into their existing workflow. This session will share best practices for Flash 9 swfs, Flex applications, and older Flash 8 swfs and will show you how to get captions in your video step by step.

2:04 PM Permalink