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Design Issues

booksAlthough you can do almost anything with Flash, it's important to consider the needs of the end user. Standards have been developed to promote consistency and accessibility in these kinds of projects. Ask yourself:

  • How will visually impaired users access your Flash project?
  • Are adequate instructions provided for new users?


As you design materials, be certain that you have consider use by those with special needs. Because Flash is a graphical interface and most of the text can't be read by screen readers, it's important to consider accessibility in the design of Flash content. However Flash software allows content developers to meet all of the requirements of Section 508 (WebAIM Section 508 Checklist).

One important new feature of Flash CS5 is increased accessibility; this version of Flash makes it possible to reach more varied users. Flash CS5 allows authors to assign equivalents to images using the Accessibility panel or scripted properties. The capabilities include a captioning component that allows authors to apply synchronized captions to video in Flash, authors can create text-only versions of their movies, audio descriptions can be added to streaming media using cue points, and the interface provides an authoring environment that allows means other than color to convey information.

There are two approaches to accessibility. First, you may build accessibility into your Flash project. Second, you may create an alternative version of your project. For example, examine the Flash and Nonflash versions of Dirty Bomb: Sources of Radiation from PBS NOVA.


eyeRead Creating Accessible Sites in Flash at WebAIM.

View Creating Accessible Sites in Flash from Adobe and then explore an article that discusses some of the needed steps to make a SWF-based program accessible: Creating an Accessible Animated Presentation in Flash. Even though created for CS4, this Flash presentation and article provide practical suggestions for creating accessible content with Adobe Flash CS5. They describe and demonstrate useful tips for designing Flash applications that work for all users.

Read Adobe Flash CS5 Professional Accessibility FAQ at Adobe. Also read Adobe Flash Accessibility Design Guidelines. This accessibility best practices overview provides a starting point for creation of accessible Flash content.

Let's explore a few techniques for accessibility; this first suggeston made by a student:

Properties Panel. You can add accessibility information by clicking on the little person icon in the Properties panel. Then type a brief descriptions in the title field. You can also add button titles. - J. Heaphey

eyeSkim through the directions found at Using Flash to Enter Accessibility Information for Screen Readers and Specifying Advanced Accessibility Options for Screen Readers. These are resources that you can return to when you begin developing your own Flash products.


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reportTesting and Usability

eyeRead About Accessible Content for Adobe Flash CS5.

Usability testing helps developers identify how people use their projects and where they may encounter difficulty in use. Careful testing and revision can significantly reduce development, training and support costs. In addition, it can improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of web-based materials.


eyeExplore the Adobe Flash Professional CS5 Accessibility.
Create a list of things to consider when testing your project with end users.

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