2002 Conference Proceedings

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MACROMEDIA FLASH AND ACCESSIBLE DESIGN: TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

Frances Himes
Senior Product Manager for Accessibility
Macromedia
600 Townsend
San Francisco, CA 94103
bregan@macromedia.com

Bob Regan
Product Manager for Accessibility
Macromedia
600 Townsend
San Francisco, CA 94103
bregan@macromedia.com

Michael Williams
Senior Flash Deployment Specialist
Macromedia
606 Townsend
San Francisco, CA 94103
bregan@macromedia.com

In August of 2001, Macromedia undertook a major initiative in the area of accessibility. As part of an ongoing commitment, Macromedia conducted a thorough evaluation of its products in terms of both conformance to accessibility standards and support for individuals with disabilities. The process was thorough and comprehensive. Every product has taken a hard look at accessibility and asked tough questions about how to serve its users better.

At the same time, Macromedia launched a number of efforts to enhance awareness of accessibility issues and techniques within the developer community. Drawing on the knowledge of accessibility experts, individual developers and its own staff, Macromedia collected a valuable toolbox of techniques for accessible design. In an effort to expand the level of knowledge and awareness about accessibility, Macromedia has shared these tools with the developer community through its web site, seminars and other work with customers.

This presentation outlines the results of Macromedia's most recent efforts in the area of accessibility, focusing on Macromedia Flash. This informative session will be divided into two sections. The first section discusses Macromedia's efforts to work with the developer community in support of accessible design. The second section presents specific examples of these tools and techniques for accessibility using Macromedia Flash.

In the first section, Frances Himes, Senior Product Manager for Macromedia, and Bob Regan. Accessibility Product Manager, will review Macromedia's efforts with developers and designers on issues of accessibility. With more than 70 million users of Dreamweaver worldwide and almost 98% of web users able to view Flash content, Macromedia is uniquely well positioned to support the cause of accessibility in the US and internationally.

Macromedia's Accessibility Resource Center (http://www.macromedia.com/accessibility) plays a central role in communicating and collaborating with developers. This site is designed to connect designers with the resources they need to understand issues of accessibility and enhance the accessibility of their designs. The resources found at that site include:

At the same time, Macromedia offers seminars and training around the world addressing issues of accessible design. These sessions provide users with the opportunity to ask direct questions and at the same time provide feedback to Macromedia.

In the second section of the presentation, Michael Williams, Senior Flash Deployment Specialist, will present specific features of Macromedia Flash supporting accessibility. After significant feedback from designers, accessibility experts and Macromedia engineers, new tools and techniques are available for exciting, engaging and accessible Flash design. Michael will demonstrate how Flash works with a screen reader as well as other assistive technologies.

There will be time at the conclusion of this presentation for a question and answer period. Input from conference participants will make this session particularly valuable for attendees and presenters alike. Jennifer Gormley, Manager of Strategic Partnerships for the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH, will be available to provide NCAM's view of Macromedia's efforts. NCAM has been a crucial partner with Macromedia in its effort to improve its products and advance the understanding of accessibility within the developer community.


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