November 19, 2010

Reader X, Accessibility, and Security Sandboxing

Yesterday Reader X was released and with it a new feature for security sandboxing. I want to alert assistive technology users to some implications of this feature, as they may be affected if they are using Windows XP.

Sandboxing works without issue for assistive technology users with Windows Vista or Windows 7. Your version of Reader will install with Protected Mode enabled and you don’t need to do anything different to read or interact with PDF documents.

Windows XP users who use assistive technology have a little different situation. When one of these users opens a PDF file they will get an alert that indicates the following:

“Adobe Reader has detected that you may be using Assistive Technology on your computer. While using Adobe Reader with Protected Mode enabled on Windows XP operating systems, some Assistive Technologies may not be able to read some document content. If you do encounter problems, turning off Protected Mode may help. This can be done by choosing Edit > Preferences > General and unchecking Enable Protected Mode at startup.”

Screen shot of alert that appears when an XP user opens a PDF file while assistive technology is running

What this means is that some assistive technologies are not able to navigate the security sandbox. So, as an assistive technology user, you should first check to see if you are able to access PDF content with your AT – JAWS and Window-Eyes users will need to disable Protected mode in the Reader preferences. There are many assistive technologies and many possible system configurations, so we encourage you to try for yourself. For an accessible PDF file to try, here is a simple test PDF file. Feel free to post your results as comments.

Update: This post initially indicated that Window-Eyes 7.2 was able to read in protected mode, but I received incorrect information on this point and was corrected by contacts at GW-Micro. The key issue is that the sandbox blocks COM interfaces, which includes current accessibility APIs, so it does make sense that Window-Eyes doesn’t work within Protected mode on XP.

10:25 PM Permalink
November 11, 2010

Flash Accessibility Talk at MAX 2010

I spoke on Flash accessibility at MAX in Los Angeles, CA at the end of October. The talk, Creating Accessible Flash Content with Flash Professional, is focused for a general audience that is familiar with Flash. I’m providing the slides and a link to the recording of the session here for people who couldn’t attend in person.

Slides: Creating Accessible Flash Content with Flash Professional (MAX 2010)


9:25 PM Permalink
October 15, 2010

Meeting WCAG 2.0 with Flash

Today the W3C published an update to the Techniques for WCAG 2.0 document and the Understanding WCAG 2.0 document. The Techniques document now includes techniques for Flash content and helps define a way for authors to comply with WCAG 2.0.

Like other sufficient techniques, the Flash techniques do not describe the only way to comply with WCAG 2.0 but define a collection of techniques that an author may choose to utilize. The table below provides a listing of the WCAG level A and AA success criteria and the Flash-specific and General techniques that authors can employ to meet the requirements of the success criteria.

As always, please send comments on existing techniques or suggestions for additional ones. This represents the first pass at the techniques for Flash, we’ll be working on adding more in the future.

WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria and Applicable Techniques for Flash
Success Criteria Level Techniques
1.1.1 Non-text Content A
Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) A
1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) A
1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) A
1.2.4 Captions (Live) AA
1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) AA
1.3.1 Info and Relationships A
1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence A
1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics A
1.4.1 Use of Color A
1.4.2 Audio Control A
1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) AA
1.4.4 Resize text AA
1.4.5 Images of text AA
2.1.1 Keyboard A
2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap A
2.2.1 Timing Adjustable A
2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide A
2.3.1 Three Flashes or Below Threshold A
2.4.1 Bypass Blocks A
2.4.2 Page Titled A
2.4.3 Focus Order A
2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context) A
2.4.5 Multiple ways AA
2.4.6 Headings and Labels AA
2.4.7 Focus Visible AA
3.1.1 Language of page A
3.1.2 Language of parts AA
3.2.1 On Focus A
3.2.2 On Input A
3.2.3 Consistent Navigation AA
3.2.4 Consistent Identification AA
3.3.1 Error Identification A
3.3.2 Labels or Instructions A
3.3.3 Error Suggestion AA
3.3.4 Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) AA
4.1.1 Parsing A
  • Not Applicable: Flash is not implemented using markup languages
4.1.2 Name, Role, Value A
2:05 AM Permalink
October 8, 2010

President Obama Signs Accessibility Act

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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)
  5. 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)
  6. 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)
  7. 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.

12:30 PM Permalink
October 6, 2010

Adobe Accessibility’s New Team Member – Kiran Kaja

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.

Welcome Kiran!

6:11 PM Permalink
October 1, 2010

Shaping the Flex roadmap

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!

7:42 PM Permalink
August 13, 2010

New InDesign Accessibility Video

Accessibility in PDF documents exported from InDesign is an are that many InDesign users are increasingly interested in. In response, we’ve worked with the Adobe Government team and Michael Murphy, Adobe Certified Expert, to offer a video that demonstrates InDesign accessibility best practices in action.

View the video (with closed captioning): Preparing InDesign Files for Accessibility

4:33 AM Permalink
July 13, 2010

Flex Accessibility Webinar July 21

Hans Hillen from The Paciello Group is presenting a webinar covering Flex Accessibility on Wednesday, July 21st at 12:00 noon EST. This webinar is free, will be recorded for people who can’t attend, and will be captioned.

To attend, simply join the meeting room at, no registration or password required.

7:06 PM Permalink
July 8, 2010

Flash Techniques for WCAG 2.0

Today the W3C posted an updated techniques document for review, including for the first time a collection of techniques for Flash (and Flex) technologies.  The techniques can be viewed at – please take a look and send in comments by August 9 to

I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of people at The Paciello Group who helped us assemble the techniques.  The techniques come from a wide range of sources and reflect knowledge amassed over several years of working with Flash and Flex, and as such additional credit is due to several others including Jon Avila and others at SSBBart Group, Bob Regan and Matt May at Adobe, Michael Jordan, and others.

Finally, we are also working on a collection of PDF techniques, which we aim to have available in the next round of the techniques document. We look forward to your comments.

8:33 PM Permalink
July 7, 2010

Linux Foundation Delivers New Licensing for IAccessible2

Today the Linux Foundation announced that it was releasing IAccessible2 with new licensing terms.  IA2 is now available with a BSD license.  You can read about this change as well as the additional tools available at  This is an important change as Adobe works to integrate IA2 into a future version of Adobe Acrobat and Reader, as well as the Flash Player and AIR.

4:15 AM Permalink