adobe archives

Adobe Flex is Accessible? Show me.

My recent post on the accessibility of Adobe Flex prompted a response from Adam Lehman, an employee of Adobe. His blog post humorously titled “Is Adobe Flex Really Accessible? You bet your robot voice it is!” talks about a few aspects of Adobe Flex which he claims makes it more accessible than the alternatives. Unfortunately, the issues raised in my original post remain, for the most part, unaddressed.

Adam says on his blog:

I think where Aaron had a rough time is that most of the accessibility information on for Flex needs to be updated. It looks like all of the information is based off of Flex 1.5. It’s definitely something that needs to be addressed and our accessibility team is working on it. I’m also willing to bet that all the applications Aaron tested weren’t the best examples of applications designed to be accessible.

I would point out that the applications I tested were those on the above mentioned site that were specifically recommended by Adobe as examples of accessible apps. It is not clear from Adam’s post whether or not those applications are also in need of being updated. It is also not clear if the Jaws scripts (which, as you will recall, I could not get to install on either of two machines) are also slated for update, as they were not mentioned at all.

It is great that Adobe seems to be actively working towards making Adobe Flex accessible. However, “working on it”, and actually being accessible are two very different things.

Again, if I am wrong, I would love to know about it, and I will of course update this blog with any new information. However, at this point, without having actually experienced an accessible Adobe Flex application, I can not recommend it as an accessible solution, though I do hope that that will change.

Sorry for the lack of comments. I’ll keep bugging the admins and hopefully we’ll have them soon. In the meantime, please feel free to email me at [email protected] (removing all of the hopefully spam-bot foiling q’s.)

posted by cannona on Friday, Feb 08, 2008 · 3 comments

Is Adobe Flex Really Accessible?

Short answer: no, at least not as far as I can tell.

When I first heard that Adobe Flex was accessible, I was naturally quite excited. I had heard about how powerful the technology was for building rich web apps, and I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to taking a closer look until recently, when I was asked to conduct an evaluation by some folks at work.

Adobe has some sample Flex applications available which supposedly show off there accessibility. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to work that well for me with Jaws 9.0. Almost none of the controls were readable.

Digging around a little more on the adobe site brought me to their page on using Adobe Flex with Jaws where I read:

In order to most effectively use the JAWS screen reader with an Adobe Flex application, users must download and install scripts. These scripts enable some of the accessibility features of Flex and allow users to utilize the standard JAWS keyboard shortcut to enter Forms mode on a larger set of user interface controls than would otherwise be possible. It is important to direct users with visual impairments to this page so that they will have the necessary scripts to use JAWS effectively.

A little background may be in order at this point for those who are less familiar with Jaws for Windows. Jaws is a very powerful screen reading program, and part of its power comes from the ability to use custom scripts. Unfortunately, many users have never installed Jaws scripts, and may not even realize that it is an option.

So, undaunted, I downloaded the Jaws script files to try the demo again. Just one problem. The scripts would not install. I tried on two different computers with a few different versions of Jaws with no luck, and it appears I am not the only one to encounter this problem.

I find this situation to be quite disappointing, as Adobe has done a lot for accessibility in the past. However, as it stands now, the claim that Adobe Flex is accessible seems to be nothing more than marketing hype.

Hopefully, Adobe will put some more time into making Flex truly accessible. It would also be nice if they could get Freedom Scientific (the company which owns and maintains Jaws for Windows) to bundle the scripts with the program as has been done for many other applications. However, until that happens, I can not recommend Adobe Flex.

I would love to be proven wrong, so if you know of a way I can get this to work, please email me at [email protected] (removing all of the hopefully spam-bot foiling q’s.)

Update: This post sparked a response from an employee of Adobe. See this post for further details.

posted by cannona on Wednesday, Feb 06, 2008 · 0 comments launches redesign, and fails

Visit today and receive a shocking surprise of a look that resembles more of a junk pile of web trends, then the website of an industry leader in digital design products. The purpose behind the redesign was to put more emphasis on the content rather than the UI, and work better on wider screens. Unfortunately, I believe the UI is so disgracefully designed it hinders the readability and usefulness of the content and becomes the primary focus.

Flash video headers engulf most of my 15” screen and I can’t see the content. On a 7 Mbps connection, the site slows down so much that the drop down menus are useless, until the center flash video has completely loaded and played. When I hover over the dropdown menus, I interact — unintentionally — with the flash content beneath the dropdown menu. I have such a hard time getting past the navigation, I can barely get to the content and I find myself closing the window rather than surfing any farther.

Coming back later, with the navigation cached, I get to the community pages for designers. My eyes are continually drawn to the empty gray space on the right and top. I have a hard time focusing on the article summaries squished to the left in a 783 pixel wide box, further confined into three columns, each 150 pixels wide. How in the world does this work better for wider screens? I can’t take the claustrophobia any longer and close the window again.

For a site that should be showcasing the best use of its own products, it fails miserably. Content can only emerge when the user interface is so well designed, it works silently without intruding rough edges or poorly aligned spaces into the experience.

posted by emmy on Friday, Dec 07, 2007

Go slide this little Adobe ad widget, and see what happens.
Found on the Coudal Layer Tennis page.

posted by jason on Saturday, Sep 15, 2007

Yeah, but is that the best Adobe (?!) can do?
Creating substitute icons might be nerdy ... but lookin’ at the official ones, I feel a yawn comin’ on…

posted by ted on Friday, May 11, 2007

Adam Betts releases CS3 icon replacements. Jason Dilworth says (and I’m thinking I agree) that icon replacement surpasses even his own nerdery.
But what’s nerdier – replacing icons or blogging about it?

posted by jason on Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sweet news: Adobe to take Photoshop online. “Adobe Systems plans to release a hosted version of its popular Photoshop image-editing application within six months.” I hope it’s faster than my Intel Mac version..

posted by jason on Wednesday, Feb 28, 2007