Daft documentation for Flash Accessibility

! Warning: this post hasn't been updated in over three years and so may contain out of date information.

The headline of this post was how I read the latest post from Matt Chotin. The actual headline was “Draft documentation for Flash Accessibility”. A silly mistake that anybody could make (I hope! I’d prefer it wasn’t just me afflicted thus). However my mistake drew my attention to the article and I read it and the one it linked to by Andrew Kirkpatrick. As I read it, it occurred to me that maybe I’d actually got the right title after all.

Flash is notoriously – and often wrongly – viewed as being very accessibility-unfriendly. There have been accessibility features built into Flash since Flash Player 6 (released in 2002). Yet here we are six years later, and Adobe are only just releasing a draft version of some accessibility API documentation. How can it have taken six years to create such important a document? That to my mind really is daft!

However, looking on the bright side, at least it is finally being released. Now I just need to find the time to read it. Talking of reading it, if you try to download it, be warned: it is hidden within a naff 100% Flash-based website and you have to enable pop-ups to get at it. Since this is truly crap in my view, you can avoid all that nonsense by downloading the full AS docs with accessibility extras from here instead (warning: it’s nearly 40MB in size). Alternatively, the accessibility-only docs can be downloaded from here.

(Updated 27th July with the small download after Andrew pointed out I’d only linked to the large, full AS docs version).

3 thoughts on “Daft documentation for Flash Accessibility

  1. I did test the link with a screen reader and from the keyboard, and found it to function. Your point about the download site being made in Flash is correct, but it seemed that if a person is interested in Flash accessiblity that it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that they have the Flash player installed. Thanks for providing an alternative link. By the way, there is also a 2MB “only accessibility” version of the documentation available on the blog – the larger one is all of the ASDoc.

  2. While accessibility properties started to be built into Flash several years ago, it only worked in Win/IE up until this past December, when support for Win/Firefox was announced. (http://blogs.adobe.com/accessibility/2007/12/new_flash_player_with_msaa_on.html)

    Between that development and this draft documentation, I am hopeful that the adobe folks are still dedicated to moving forward on this front, but there is certainly much more progress to be made…

  3. Andrew,

    First, thanks for allowing me to provide an alternative link to the docs. Regarding your comments on people interested in Flash will have Flash installed, this line of argument always reminds me of a clip from a film I once saw, I think it was LA Story. Steve Martin’s character leaves his house, climbs into his car and drives 10 yards, gets out and goes into his neighbour’s house. Just because one might have a car doesn’t mean that one can’t walk when its more appropriate. Likewise, just because one can use Flash to create web pages, doesn’t mean plain old HTML can’t be used when more appropriate.

    Andrea,
    Thanks for the information on screen reader support in Firefox. I’d missed that one.

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