Misinterpretation of guidelines?
This misconception likely has its roots in people misinterpreting or adhering very strictly to a couple of guidelines in WCAG 1.0:
From Guideline 6. Ensure that pages featuring new technologies transform gracefully.:
Ensure that pages are usable when scripts, applets, or other programmatic objects are turned off or not supported.
From Guideline 11. Use W3C technologies and guidelines.:
Use W3C technologies (according to specification) and follow accessibility guidelines. Where it is not possible to use a W3C technology, or doing so results in material that does not transform gracefully, provide an alternative version of the content that is accessible.
- Think about what happens when support is missing
- Make sure any user interaction is input device independent (i.e. does not require a mouse)
The Ajax problem
The good news is that support for WAI-ARIA is already partly there, and is increasing. All major browsers support or will support it, as do several screen readers.
More articles on WAI-ARIA:
- Introduction to WAI ARIA
- WAI-ARIA Overview
- WAI-ARIA Primer
- Enhancing TabView Accessibility with WAI-ARIA Roles and States
- WAI ARIA Live Regions
Flash and accessibility
As for Flash, well, there are two main things to think about. One is to embed Flash content so that people without Flash (like iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad users) get an alternative, normally in the form of HTML. Again, by using progressive enhancement. The other is that you need to make the actual Flash content as accessible as possible, which means developing your Flash content with accessibility in mind. Information about how to do that can be found on Adobe’s Flash CS4 Professional Accessibility site.
One unfortunate thing with Flash accessibility is that, if I read Adobe’s documentation correctly, Flash content can currently only be made accessible to screen readers running on Windows, so screen reader users are out of luck if they use another operating system, like Mac OS X or Linux. Be aware of that and offer an alternative.
According to the information in Flash Player and Flex Support for IAccessible2 and WAI-ARIA, It looks like that problem is being worked on. However, until Flash is accessible across platforms I am hesitant to call it what WCAG 2.0 refers to as accessibility supported technology.
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