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Re: [Accessibility] A thought about a possible project

From: Michael Whapples
Subject: Re: [Accessibility] A thought about a possible project
Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2010 11:51:14 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100827 Shredder/3.0.8pre

Firstly Tony, nothing wrong with you questioning what I say, it possibly tests me out and if you do bring to light something I have wrong then that's good, I then may know who really needs talking to when I have these sorts of issues.

OK, let's work with a specific example here as this should make it easier to specify what I am getting at. My chosen example is the BBC iplayer (the screen where you have a stream playing). Now as far as the author of the flash content (the BBC in this case) have made it accessible, a windows screen reader can find the play, pause, etc buttons to control the audio stream (I am talking of using adobe's plugin with the browser in this case). Now the problem I would like to see being dealt with is that if I try and access the same thing from a system running gnome and orca as the screen reader, regardless of the flash plugin I use with the browser I am unable to find the pause button, etc which I could find on windows. I was wondering whether there was anyone, or if anyone knew someone who might be interested, in modifying something like gnash to make these controls accessible to orca. I am not expecting greater access than is available on windows.

I believe what I am asking for should be possible as I said the example is comparing the same source content but we get different results when using windows or a GNU Linux system, so I can only conclude its down to the software on my system causing the difference.

Michael Whapples
On 02/09/10 11:02, Tony Sales wrote:
Hi Michael, thanks for the clarification - however, it is already
possible to make flash accessible in this way, if the author knows
what they are doing (or cares about accessibility). However from what
work I have done with flash, I don't think it would be possible for a
third party accessibility application like a screen-reader to get
access to those parts of the flash object easily. In other words the
solution is to educate (or legally force) organizations into making
accessible flash objects - or providing a more accessible alternative.
Again sorry to be negative, I could be completely wrong about this (I
often am!)...

On 9/1/10, Michael Whapples<address@hidden>  wrote:
Sorry, I should have been clearer, I was really just meaning access to
text, buttons and other controls. As an example (although may be
irrelevant as there are scripts to get the stream and convert it to MP3
on the computer) would be that using the BBC iplayer I am unable to
pause programmes, etc. There are also some websites who seem to use
flash on there front pages and have the buttons in the flash content.
Solving this is what I had meant.

I would agree getting orca to describe videos, etc would be very
difficult (if not impossible). I hadn't meant work in this direction.

Thanks for showing I could have been misunderstood, hopefully a bit
clearer now.

Michael Whapples
On 01/09/10 20:19, Tony Sales wrote:
I suspect this would be  very difficult and of limited use. Even on
the most accessible flash presentations the most you can hope for is
to be able to read/hear the text and navigate/activate any buttons etc
- they are not going to be able to make the video/animation or
graphics stuff accessible - at least not automatically - this would
require audio descriptions, which are difficult to generate unless the
author provides them in the first place. Sorry to be so negative, I am
just not sure how much value flash adds over audio/screen-reading etc,
it is by it's very nature highly visual and I don't think there is
much we can do about it - other that ask people to provide alternative
ways of accessing the information etc.

On 9/1/10, Michael Whapples<address@hidden>   wrote:

Now I don't know whether what I am going to suggest would fit with the
GNU ideas on free software, but one of the things which as a blind user
I am unable to do on a GNU Linux system is access flash content on the
web. Now would it be appropriate for GNU/FSF to support getting
accessibility in a plugin such as gnash or swfdec? OK, I think I may
have answered my own question as I was going to check the license for
gnash and the debian package has gnash's home page being at, I
wasn't sure whether supporting what I believe is a proprietary system
(that's what I thought flash itself was) would be appropriate.

I am suggesting this route as: it saves us having to pressure and rely
on adobe to make the change and anyway that would be supporting a
proprietary system as the adobe plugin isn't free software. Trying to
convince web developers not to use flash wouldn't be great as it makes
free software look lacking compared to proprietary systems on windows
and I am sure there would always be someone who would choose to stick
with flash on their website. By making gnash accessible it would mean
that the free software solution has something over the adobe plugin and
they may need to hang there head in shame in the accessibility area (if
they aren't already for the gaping hole they have in accessibility on
platforms other than windows).

Now I wonder, does this idea take anyone's fancy? I have to say
technically I probably wouldn't be able to do much, but I certainly
would be happy to help someone with testing this.

Michael Whapples

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