December 6, 2010
BS 8878:2010 is a new code of practice developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) which describes a process to ensure that websites and online services provided by an organization are accessible to all web users including persons with disabilities. BS 8878:2010 will formally be launched on Tuesday, 7th December 2010.
BS 8878 is not intended to be a technical specification. Instead, it sets out a process and brings together and summarizes the information needed by organizations providing web services to understand how to embed accessibility requirements into their production processes at all stages. Additionally, BS 8878 also provides information on why accessibility should be an integral part of the planning and design process by listing out legislative, commercial and ethical reasons.
It also states that the ideal situation for assuring accessible experiences is that organizations produce web products that confirm to W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and associated standards.
We welcome this new code of practice and hope that this will provide a better understanding of the importance of accessibility to an organization providing web products. Most web accessibility standards are inherently technical in nature and are difficult to understand by non-technical members of an organization. BS 8878 fills this information gap.
We at Adobe are always striving to provide the best experiences for our users irrespective of their disability. At the same time, we are also trying to make it easier for web developers, designers and content authors to create accessible content and applications on the web using various Adobe tools.
- Adobe is an active participant in W3C’s Web Accessibility initiative (W3C-WAI) and made contributions to the development of the WCAG 2.0 standard.
- The Techniques for WCAG 2.0 document published by W3C now includes techniques for Flash content and helps define a way for authors to comply with WCAG 2.0.
- We are also working on a collection of PDF techniques, which we aim to have available in the next round of the techniques document update.
- The Adobe Accessibility web site contains several useful resources for authors, end users, and those getting started learning about accessibility.
October 8, 2010
Today I am thrilled to attend an event at the White House where President Obama signs into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This act includes a number of provisions intended to increase access to video programming on television and the internet, require as access to the user interfaces used to access information online via smart phones, and require access to on-screen menus for DVD players and set-top boxes.
Specifically, the bill establishes that:
- Within one year of passage of the Act that the FCC will define regulations to make Advanced Communications Services accessible to and usable by people with disabilities (Section 716)
- Effective three years after passage of the Act, internet browsers built into mobile phones will need to support accessibility in the browser’s features and functions (Section 718)
- Within 60 days the FCC will establish a committee to advise on video programming and emergency access, and that group will develop reports (Section 201)
- a report within 6 months which includes deadlines for the delivery of closed captioning services
- a report within 18 months recommending the schedule for the delivery of video description
- Within 6 months, the FCC will set a schedule for requiring closed captions on video displayed online, for video that was delivered with captions on broadcast television. (Section 202)
- The FCC will commence an evaluation within one year of the passage of the Act to investigate the technical challenges, benefits, and technical challenges around video description for online video. (Section 202)
- The FCC will define regulations within 18-36 months which require access to the controls that accompany video programming (e.g. play, pause, closed captioning, volume controls) to enable access for people who are blind or visually impaired. (section 204)
- The FCC will define regulations within 18-36 months which require on-screen menus and program guides to be accessible to people who are blind or low-vision. (Section 205)
Adobe supports the provisions of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act as great advances to ensure equal access for people with disabilities. The most immediate impact of this legislation on developers using Adobe tools will be the delivery of closed captions for video online, followed by the provision of accessible controls for video and video description to aid comprehension of content by users who are blind or visually-impaired. Adobe tools already provide direct support for some of these requirements:
- Adobe introduced support for closed captioning in Flash video and provided a closed captioning component in Flash CS3 in April 2007, and has continued to improve and provide this in Flash CS4 and CS5. This component greatly simplifies the process of adding captions to video in FLV or H.264 formats.
- Adobe provides video controls in the FLVPlayback component, initially delivered in October 2008, which are accessible by default for assistive technology users. Offering controls that keyboard or assistive technology users can use is easily accomplished with Flash CS4 and CS5.
- For the past few years, video providers including MTV, Hulu, CNET, YouTube, and others have used Flash to display video with closed captioning, taking advantage of features in the Flash Player to accomplish this.
Despite the support that exists currently, there is more to do to make supporting this Act easier. Possible areas of work for Adobe include simplifying the process for content providers to transcode Line 21 or 608/708 captions to TTML or another format for display online, expanding support in the Flash Player to support upcoming accessibility APIs for mobile devices, and providing additional templates for accessible video player control sets to offer authors a greater selection of ready-to-use and accessible interfaces.
Congratulations to all who pushed to make this Act a reality, we look forward to working together to define the next steps as defined in the bill and working to continue to improve Adobe solutions for authors and content providers who need to deliver high-quality access for end users.
October 6, 2010
I’m pleased to announce that Kiran Kaja is joining the accessibility team at Adobe, based out of Adobe’s office in London, England. Kiran will be working internally with product teams and sales engineers and as a key figure in Adobe’s efforts to support accessibility policy and standards in Europe.
Kiran has worked in the Accessibility field for more than 6 years. Among other roles, Kiran made major contributions to the development of the first screen reader for Windows Mobile based devices at Code Factory. At SAP Labs, Kiran worked in the Accessibility Test Lab ensuring that a number of SAP applications meet accessibility standards. More recently, in his role as a Digital Accessibility Development Officer at RNIB, he worked on the AEGIS open source project as well as contributing to RNIB’s initiatives in enhancing mobile device accessibility to blind and partially sighted people.
You will likely see Kiran at various accessibility events in Europe, or you can follow Kiran on twitter.
October 1, 2010
The Flash Platform tooling team is requesting feedback via a survey. If you are interested in Flash and/or Flex and accessibility, you’ll find questions in the survey that provide an opportunity to voice that interest. We know that accessibility is important to many of you, please take a few minutes to cast your vote!