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Flash 8 Cookbook by Joey Lott

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23.3. Making Animated, Interactive, and Visually Complex Movies Accessible

Problem

You want to make an animated, interactive, or visually complex movie accessible.

Solution

Hide animated and visually complex content from screen readers, and replace it with meaningful text alternatives. Or, create an alternative movie with an accessibility friendly architecture. Design the movie so that users relying on assistive technologies can navigate to and control the duration of content display.

Discussion

Most assistive technologies were developed to make documents accessible. HTML, word processor, and even XML documents are static; they have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and they exist as discrete documents, distinguishable from other documents. The user loads them on the screen, accesses their content, and when finished, moves on to the next document.

This document-based user experience, and the architecture it implies, while possible in Flash, is certainly not the norm. Designed for providing rich user experiences, Flash movies are often dynamic, with the contents changing constantly, as part of a pre-designed animation or even in live response to user activity. Indeed, these constant changes are often a part of the content. Unfortunately, this content is different enough from the static page-based documents that it is not practically accessible using many assistive technologies.

One example of the kinds of problems Flash content can cause occurs in screen readers in animated movies. Screen ...

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