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2008: Flash and Accessibility - challenging the accepted myths
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2008: Flash and Accessibility - challenging the accepted myths


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Presentation given by Jonathan Hassell (BBC Head of Audience Experience & Usability) at Flash at at the BBC event, London in 2008. …

Presentation given by Jonathan Hassell (BBC Head of Audience Experience & Usability) at Flash at at the BBC event, London in 2008.

Covers: myth that accessibility is just about blind people (it isn't - and multimedia Flash can be enabling to more disabled people than it can be a difficulty for); myth that accessibility doesn't work with screenreaders (it does, but it is challenging to get right); myth that HTML is more accessible than Flash (it isn't) and all Flash content should have an HTML alternative (most can't - e.g. what's the HTML alternative to a game of Space Invaders)

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  • So what are those myths?
  • Multi-media is the thing which really makes things accessible… being able to get things your preferred way…
  • Tabbing can be essential for the 9% with motor difficulties…
  • I ’ ll give you three examples…
  • We ’ ve got sessions on Flash in 3D and immersive, maybe interactive, video here today – how would you progressively enhance those? It ’ s not impossible, but would you be missing the point
  • People can get information from all sorts of places From the BBC, they are increasingly expecting more
  • From the BBC, they are increasingly expecting more than information If we can do such immersive, engaging TV… why can ’ t our websites be similarly engaging? one of Erik Huggers ’ main aims for our sites at the moment is “ fun ” - the “ entertainment ” part of our values… Would you rather read an article about a volcano or watch “ Supervolcano ” and really feel the heat coming off the screen? “ Fun ” and “ immersion ” can be some of the main editorial values a website needs to have. Yes, technically there is no point in smooth transitions and Simon Cobb ’ s “ special sauce ” , this can be part of the thing which makes people want to use the site…
  • given the editorial needs of sites may include these user-experience requirements… what ’ s the best technology to use to create them? if all technologies have strengths and weaknesses, so there likely isn ’ t the perfect technology which can do it all… how do projects make the best of the imperfect choices? Don ’ t dwell on this slide…
  • Transcript

    • 1. Jonathan Hassell Head of Audience Experience & Usability Flash at the BBC event 22 nd August 2008 Flash & Accessibility - challenging the accepted myths…
    • 2. Flash and accessibility – three myths…
      • Myth 1: it ’ s not accessible…
        • (though we ’ re not sure if we ’ ve defined the term)
      • Myth 2: it doesn ’ t work with screenreaders…
        • (though we ’ re not sure that ’ s correct any more)
      • Myth 3: anyway, we like progressive enhancement…
        • (so you must include an HTML alternative)
    • 3. Myth 1: Accessible to whom, exactly…?
      • let ’ s actually use some stats…difficult to be exact, but…
        • approx 22% of all adults are recognised by the DDA…
        • and the breakdown may be surprising…
      • accessibility isn ’ t just for blind people
        • get rid of “ it is/isn ’ t accessible… ”
        • replace it with “ it is/isn ’ t accessible by people with this disability ”
        • or maybe even “ it is/isn ’ t usable by people with this disability ”
    • 4.
        • blind people make up max 2% of disabled people in the UK
        • hearing impaired – approx 41%
          • maybe I need subtitles…
        • literacy difficulties – approx 27%...
          • whoever said text was a great way to communicate?
        • motor difficulties – approx 9%
          • maybe I need keyboard access or tabbing…
        • severely/profoundly deaf – approx 4%
          • maybe I need sign-language…
      Looking at the needs of ‘ the other 98% ’
    • 5.
      • text can be a real problem…
        • what if the user doesn ’ t know ATs exist?
        • or they can ’ t understand the complexity of installing or using them?
        • no child under 10 uses a screenreader…
        • maybe make the text self-voice…
        • maybe use font resizing or Plain English…
      • why not just use video?
        • great for sign-language… needs video or avatars
        • but not great for everyone… e.g. that 40% who need subtitles…
      • don ’ t use rich-media, use multi- media
        • get your point across more than one way
      Multi -media
    • 6. So if that ’ s what everyone needs…?
      • could Flash be a more “ accessible ” technology than HTML?
      • an example: tabbed navigation around elements on a page
        • ordered, non-structured…
          • tab around every single control on the page (yawn!)
        • structured/hierarchical…
          • group your controls to allow the learner to get to the one they want more quickly
        • structured/hierarchical + intelligence
        • some inspiration from UA-chess…
      • Flash is great at this; HTML isn ’ t…
    • 7. Myth 2: Flash doesn ’ t work with screenreaders…
      • isn ’ t actually true…
        • although it is true that many blind people think that
      • I ’ ll leave Niqui to give you some examples…
      • and we ’ ve already shown how accessibility isn ’ t just about screenreaders…
      • for the record, I thought it might be good to see what else doesn ’ t work with screenreaders…
    • 8.
        • (ie. much of the things you use Flash for…
        • find me the screenreader that can…
          • make video accessible to blind people…
          • or games accessible to blind people…
          • or Second Life accessible to blind people
        • the web is less and less about things which screenreaders can handle
          • this is why new techniques are necessary (cf. WCAG 2)
          • subtitling, AD, signing, audiogames...
        • accessibility doesn ’ t need to depend on ATs
        • even if Flash didn ’ t work well with screenreaders, that ’ s not necessarily ‘ Game Over ’
      Video… games… immersive experiences…
    • 9. Myth 3: Progressive enhancement & alternatives…
      • PE = great theory...
      • forgetting the problem of cost-multiples for a moment…
      • most of what we do in Flash, you can ’ t do in HTML
      • how do you progressively enhance?
        • wandering around a 3D landscape
        • interactive video
        • Beethoven ’ s 3 rd symphony podcast
      • think if PE is actually trying to make things accessible for disabled people, or for other purposes?
      • because how would HTML help make things like space invaders accessible?
    • 10. Alternatives cf. distinctiveness… an example
      • so was the HTML version of the site really distinctive from the rest of the market?
      • the whole point of the Bloom site was:
        • “ in a crowded marketplace… build something that looks like nothing else… ”
        • make it fun…
    • 11. So what kinds of alternatives do make sense?
      • something which actually is a real alternative, which gets across the point…
      • and that doesn ’ t always mean HTML
        • that isn ’ t the best tech for everything…
      • some examples:
        • a fun, calculation-based immersive game
          • the calculation part could be done in HTML
          • but providing a spreadsheet template would work much better…
        • a 3D adventure game
          • you could do this as a text adventure…
          • but wouldn ’ t sound FX and real voices make the game more enjoyable? (which is the point, anyway…)
    • 12. It all comes down to the point…
      • the point of the product – the editorial proposition & values:
        • content/information/learning
        • tone
        • style
        • fun
        • engagement
        • interactivity
        • production values
      • what its audiences are
        • everyone… or more targeted…
      • and whether you can get all of these values to all of the audiences
      • it ’ s not about accessibility, it ’ s about user experience
    • 13. The importance of User Experience
      • the web isn ’ t just about “ information ” to be “ accessed ”
      • check our Reithian values:
        • Inform
        • Educate
        • Entertain
        • (Interact)
      • fun is not a dirty word
        • sometimes it ’ s what gets us an audience to make our point to…
        • sometimes it ’ s the only point…
    • 14. What ’ s the right tech to create great UX?
      • Html
      • Flash
          • Good at Bad at
      • re-usability
      • easy interfacing with ATs
      • simplicity
      • needs other techs added to do multi-media
      • tabbing
      • tabbing
      • video
      • immersion
      • re-usability
      • exposure of semantics to ATs
      • almost too flexible… over-metaphoric interfaces
    • 15. Be aware of the real difficulties of using Flash…
      • Search-Engine Optimisation
      • closed format
        • closed containers – lack of ability to be easily repurposed
          • e.g. mash-ups, simple multi-platform
        • closed ownership – owned by Adobe, not the open community
      • so, yes, it would be good if we had a tech that could:
        • do what Flash does
        • but get over some of those problems too…
      • in the meantime…
        • think hard - Flash may or may not be the right tool for the job…
        • but don ’ t use “ accessibility ” as a sloppy argument against Flash
    • 16. How we go forwards…
      • not just about Flash
        • what about Air, Silverlight, Ajax, google maps…?
      • make a standard for when to use multi-media techs
        • working out if you really need them
          • what would the rich-media technology add to the experience?
          • can the point be gotten over through something simpler?
          • what kinds of alternatives might be possible & appropriate?
        • and what the accessibility implications are
          • we are working on charts for what each tech provides for accessibility
            • and working with Adobe, Microsoft etc. to improve these charts
          • whether to interface with ATs or provide your own accessibility features
          • how to constrain your innovation to what ’ s usable
            • we ’ re creating web experiences, not shrink-wrap software
            • just because the technology let ’ s you build it, that doesn ’ t mean you should…
          • accessibility statements and disclaimers
            • explaining ourselves to our audiences when everything isn ’ t possible
      • ensure all our standards work cross-technology
    • 17. e: t: @jonhassell w: Contact me