by Andrew Kirkpatrick
The AIR 2 beta went live on Adobe Labs yesterday, and it includes support for MSAA to allow assistive technologies on the Windows platform to access Flash-based content within AIR applications.
We are still doing testing and addressing issues, but encourage you to try it out. The beta runtime installer is available at http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/air2/.
For any readers who aren’t familiar with AIR, what you are installing is not a developer tool but the runtime that is used to run AIR applications that developers create. There are many applications that are developed as AIR applications and this is underlying technology that allows those applications to be displayed on your system. So what does the addition of accessibility support mean for users with disabilities? For blind or low-vision users, this means that content that is developed with accessibility in mind will be able to interact with the applications using assistive technologies that they already use.
Will all AIR applications now be accessible? No, no more than all HTML websites or all C++ or Java applications are – but what this does mean is that developers now have the capability to address accessibility in their applications. With previous versions of AIR a developer could ignore accessibility for blind and some low-vision users because the information wouldn’t reach the assistive technologies, but now with AIR 2 it does.
My colleague Daniel Koestler published a post on AIR accessibility yesterday, and he includes a link to an application that he developed with accessibility in mind that you can download and try.
Please give AIR 2 a try and let us know about your experiences.