Loose notes from SXSW 2006 session “Design and Social Responsibility”
Lots of accessibility talk at SXSW this year, which ties into the parallel heavy emphasis on web standards and the semantic web. Accessibility is not restricted to HTML pages – it can extend to rich media like Flash as well. But to get there, you need to change your / your client’s mindset, and make accessibility a fundamental part of the design process, not something that gets bolted on later “if you have time/resources” — that mindset will never get us there.
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[Missed first part of this session]
Kelsey Ruger Dir Technology/Web Ops, Webxites
Gordon Montgomery Principal, gmeta.com
Sharron Rush Exec Dir, Knowbility
Thea Eaton Snert Studios
Eaton on Flash: Accessible design does not have to look boring. Rich media can be accessible! Flash has a bad rep in the accessibility world. Flash MX 2004 and Flash Player 6 changed a lot. It’s the law that schools must put out educational media in an accessible manner. But voluntary for commercial enterprises. People think that blind users don’t use the web, but in fact, for many disabled, technology is everything. Told story about a young boy who traveled with a cell phone, GPS unit, and mobile web browser, and depended heavily on them.
Can drag and drop be made accessible? Demonstrated a King Tut puzzle game which originally depended on drag/drop, but was amended to work with tab and shift keys, with lots of audio cues. You don’t need to see it, and can still be used by mobility impaired. Do you need to sacrifice interactivity and fun for disabled users?
“Exposed state” – every landing page should reveal where you are and how you got there.
Is it too time consuming / is it affordable to make Flash apps accessible? If you design your app accessible from the start, it’s far easier than trying to retrofit an existing Flash project. Checklists available that will make the process much easier.
Stop talking about “the business case” for accessibility — it’s a human rights issue. A matter of responsibility, not business. Flash developers should not negotiate accessibility with the client – they should build it into their project bids. The grassroots activism approach.
You need to think like the user, get inside their skin.
Ruger: If Information Architects are not in a position to dictate accessibility, then they need to know how to sell it.
Original session notes available at moleskin.