Posts in Category "Flash"

June 22, 2007

The Librarian of Congress and more

With the new features in Flash CS3 for captioning, the skins we’ve made available for accessible video presentations, our support for the DFXP caption data format, and new work on CC for Flash by NCAM I’m seeing a lot of new captioning examples. Someday there will be too many to point out when new ones come available, but in the meantime, here’s another. This one is also by the Library of Congress and relates to the 2007 National Book Festival and uses the FLVPlayback skins.
The example is at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/. It includes captions and is screen reader and keyboard accessible, and also offers a transcript.

11:27 AM Permalink
May 7, 2007

Captioning Article and Examples

We’ve got a great article on the Adobe Developer Center: Captioning Flash video with Captionate and the captioning-supported FLVPlayback component skins
by Michael Jordan, who added support for captioning to the set of ActionScript 2.0 FLVPlayback video component skins. This is an eight-page article, and by page three you’ll have captions. Pages four through eight provide more in-depth information for developers who want to make additional modifications to the user interface.
The beauty of the skins is that they complement the built-in ActionScript 3.0 FLVPlaybackCaptioning component that comes with Flash CS3 and allow authors who want to publish video files to support Flash Player 8 to add captions with ease, and provide an accessible interface to control the video for keyboard and screen reader users at the same time.
The Library of Congress is using the skins for their online exhibition on the MacDowell Colony, but they aren’t using Captionate – they have a DFXP XML file from MAGpie. These skins also support external caption data in DFXP. We have our list of caption vendors who create DFXP caption files, including Caption Colorado, Automatic Sync Technologies, the Media Access Group at WGBH for developers who don’t want to caption video themself.
As always, I’m interested in any feedback on the skins or the article, but first go check out the MacDowell Colony videos!

11:06 PM Permalink
April 16, 2007

Captioning in Flash CS3

I want to highlight my favorite new feature in Flash CS3 – Flash captioning. There is a new component, named FLVPlaybackCaptioning, which works in cooperation with the FLVPlayback component to make delivering captioning in Flash really easy.
Ordinarily a Flash developer drags a FLVPlayback component onto the stage in the Flash authoring tool, sets a variety of parameters including identifying the video source, and publishes the video. The additional steps for adding captioning are to drag the FLVPlaybackCaptioning component onto the stage, reference the caption data file, choose a FLVPlayback skin that includes a captioning toggle button, and publish. The captions will appear over the video.
Beyond this basic process, there are many additional options that allow complete control over the location and appearance of the captions. The captions can appear in a separate area adjacent to the video (or where ever is deemed best) and with a variety of font characteristics including different font faces which can be embedded into the Flash movie and shown even on user’s systems that don’t have that particular font installed.
The captioning data file needs to be in the W3C’s DFXP (Timed Text) format. There are already tools that help you create a DFXP caption file. MAGpie already supports this format, and other tools such as Captionate and HiCaption Studio have plans to support DFXP in the coming weeks and months. If you prefer to have the captioning work done for you, there are services that can deliver the DFXP file, including the Media Access Group at WGBH, Automatic Sync technologies, and Caption Colorado, and more providers are expected soon.
More information to come – let us know how you use this exciting new feature!

8:28 AM Permalink
March 8, 2007

New Captioning in Flash Component

WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is providing a new component that allows Flash developers to add captions to video in Flash. “cc for Flash” is a free download and is available at the NCAM web site (http://ncam.wgbh.org/webaccess/ccforflash/). This component helps developers use captions in QuickTime’s QTtext format or in the new W3C Timed Text format called DFXP.
MAGpie's export menu, showing the DFXP output option.
Also announced is an update to MAGpie, NCAM’s free closed captioning tool. This update adds a new export item to MAGpie’s export menu to allow for the output of DFXP caption files.
To use MAGpie to caption an FLV, you’ll need to use a file in a media type that is supported by QuickTime, so if your video starts out as an MPG or MOV just use that for the captioning, and then use the XML file generated by MAGpie. It won’t matter as long as the timeline for the FLV is the same as the timeline for the original video. If you create the FLV from a portion of a larger file you’ll want to get a QT-compatible file that has the same timeline for the captioning.
I’m really excited about this new development – send links to captioned video if you use cc for Flash. Thanks to NCAM for the great work!

12:43 PM Permalink
October 24, 2006

FLVPlayback skins with Captionate captioning support

Providing captions in Flash just got easier. Adobe is making skins for the FLVPlayback component available for use. The skins were crated by Michael Jordan and are being provided by Adobe for developers to use.
To use these skins:

  1. Download the caption skin MXP file
  2. Run the MXP file to install the extension
  3. once installed, you simply select a skin from the ‘Select Skin’ dialog that is displayed when changing the FLVPlayback skin in Flash 8, as shown in the image below. Selecting a caption-enabled skin from the 'select skin' dialog
  4. the FLV file that you display in your movie must have caption data to display. These skins are designed to work with FLV files that have captioned added by Captionate.

Please let us know how these skins work for you – we’d love to point to examples!
Update: We’ve uploaded a new version of the skins with the following issues addressed:

  1. The updated skins now support the FLVPlayback Custom UI Controls, with a CaptionsButton symbol to the FLVPlayback Custom UI.fla library.
  2. bug fixed where the skins cause the FLVPlayback component to throw an “Invalid contentPath” error when the FLVPlayback component instance appeared after the first frame of the swf and the contentPath url was set in the components panel.
11:08 AM Permalink
August 24, 2006

Cool Captioning Examples

I’ve seen a couple of interesting examples of captioning this week.
http://www.planetinneed.com/ – It’s hard to believe at first, but this is a commercial for milk. The captions are hard to read but there is a cool telepromptor-like effect. A funny site, although not a good example of screen reader access.
http://www.vikingkittens.com/ – A feline-based music video with subtitles. I kept watching longer than I wanted to because I realized that I never learned the lyrics to Led Zepplin’s “The Immigrant Song” (because Robert Plant’s singing in this song is nearly unintelligible, at least to me). Accessibility to the rescue of Led Zepplin fans everywhere…

11:02 AM Permalink
August 23, 2006

Another Solution to EOLAS Issue

Jason Garber of sixtwothree.org has a post discussing another way to avoid the “click to activate and use this control” issue. His method uses Javascript to rewrite the DOM with the same object and param elements, and apparently it works.
He has an updated version (less discussion of how it works) at: http://sixtwothree.org/blog/archives/2006/05/20/activateactivex-11.
I need to run another set of tests to see how it works with diffferent screen readers, but the Hangman game in the last post uses it and it seems OK at first blush.

2:17 PM Permalink
August 22, 2006

Two Accessible Flash Games – Which is Better?

Net Systems Solutions created a Hangman-game in Flash, and made it accessible for screen reader and keyboard users. I encouraged them to try to develop a second version of the game, but with some differences in the way accessibility is implemented.
I’d like to hear from users some of their thoughts on these two versions. There is much to be learned about accessible rich internet applications, and this is a quick and unscientific test to see what people’s reactions are to each of these versions. Please give these a try, with a screen reader of your choice or with just the keyboard, and let us know what you think. Response content will be shared for all to see.
Example 1.1: http://www.n-syst.com/hangman1.htm
Example 1.2: http://www.n-syst.com/Hangman2.html

1:22 PM Permalink
August 7, 2006

Moving Screen Reader Focus in Flash

I’ve been asked various forms of the question “how can I make JAWS move the focus for my Flash application?” recently and decided to create a quick post. The answer: sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t.
Test files:
Test file
Source FLA
When a JAWS user reaches the page containing a Flash (or Flex) application the screen reader is in what JAWS calls Virtual PC Cursor mode (Window-Eyes calls it Browse mode). In this mode the user is navigating through the screen reader’s off-screen model of the Flash application. Starting reading at the top of the page (hit ctrl+home to go to the top), the user might arrow down line by line to reach the button labeled “move focus”. The user hits enter or space and visually you can see that the focus has moved, but the virtual focus is not in the same place. Arrowing down again shows that the Virtual PC Cursor focus stayed on the button.
If the user is in Forms mode in JAWS (Browse mode off in Window-Eyes) there is no off-screen model. In this circumstance the screen reader focus is the system focus so moving it happens just as it does in a standard desktop application. For this and other reasons (that I’ll talk about in upcoming posts) we recommend that complex Flash and all Flex applications should be used in Forms mode on. This does present some other problems (reading text that is not focusable is a big one) but there are good solutions to address these concerns, but that is for another post.
It merits mention that make the focus move around within an application may not be the right thing to do for a user who can’t view the screen. However, it may save time and facilitate easy use. Move focus only when you really need to, and test with screen reader users.
In general, if you need to move the focus for a screen reader user, make sure you advise the user that they need to be in forms mode for your application.

10:10 AM Permalink
July 31, 2006

New Accessibility Book

A new accessibility book hit the shelves last Monday. Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance is the collective work of several well-known names in accessibility, including Jim Thatcher. This is the new version of the standard reference “Constructing Accessible Websites” that Jim and others wrote a few years back, so the format and cover image are similar, but with updated and new content.
I wrote chapters on PDF accessibility and an overview of accessible technologies and co-authored/updated the chapter on Flash accessibility with Bob Regan. I’m very happy with the book, and I’m sure you’ll find it invaluable.

9:11 AM Permalink