Speaking of Accessible Sites and Technology
A friend (who prefers anonymity) sent me a URL for an interesting article at CNN’s War on Terror section, How Prepared Is Your City? with the following comment:
"If I want to find out how well-prepared my city is to cope with a terrorist attack, I must have Flash installed (which my primary browser doesn’t, just to catch things like this). Why is Flash so important to this special report? So they can show me smallish charts of text and numbers, all drawn in Flash."
CNN’s report is interesting and informative. Too bad they didn’t take the helpful measures to provide access to the information whether or not their visitors have the Flash plug-in installed.
Macromedia Flash has an Accessibility Kit Extension that provides features for alternative viewing capabilities, but I haven’t seen many people implement them yet, unfortunately. Macromedia’s Flash Accessibility section provides design techniques and developer resources to learn how to design Macromedia Flash content with accessibility in mind. They even have information and a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template to help you create wonderful Flash work that also follows the U.S. Section 508 Guidelines.
From my side of the fence, I’ve seen that many designers and developers just don’t know that something like the Flash Accessibility Kit Extension even exists, and aren’t aware that Macromedia has an entire section on Accessibility. If you take a look, you’ll find that many of these sites have information on accessibility. Some sites tend to bury the information so it may not be as easy to find.
Education, education, education. Oh, and did I mention that we need to help educate?
Another nice advantage to creating accessibility friendly sites is that they’ll also be more search engine friendly. How? Glad you asked. Last spring I wrote an article for Digital Web on creating search engine friendly sites that explains that and includes links to resources like the Flash Accessibility Kit and others. Just think how much your boss or clients will love you when you not only create accessible sites but you also help improve their search engine rankings.
WebsiteTips.com’s Accessibility section has lots of annotated links to great information.