Yes, you can make your Adobe® Flex® applications accessible. Flex uses Adobe Flash® Player 9 to deliver applications to end users; thus Flex inherits all of its accessibility advantages, including support for Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA). For more information about the accessibility of Flash Player 9, read about Adobe Flash Player 9 accessibility in the Accessibility Resource Center. Adobe Flex 3 includes 28 accessible components to help designers and developers rapidly develop and deploy accessible rich Internet applications (RIAs). Each component has been built and thoroughly tested to support accessibility.
Flex makes building accessible RIAs easier than ever. With a set of 28 accessible components, developers do not need to focus on the functionality represented within an individual component. Instead, they can attend to broader issues such as providing instructions for people with disabilities, captioning video content, and ensuring sufficient contrast in color choices. To learn more about developing accessible RIAs, see the accessibility best practices for Flex.
Flash Player 9 supports MSAA, which makes it easier for all assistive technologies to incorporate support for Flash content, including RIAs built with Flex. With the release of Flex, several of the most popular screen readers support MSAA and will render Flex content, including JAWS from Freedom Scientific and Window-Eyes from GW Micro.
Validate RIAs created with Flex against the set of best practices identified for Flex. There are specific recommendations to follow, such as providing text equivalents for images and ensuring that forms are labeled properly. At the same time, it is important for developers to review their applications against a set of use cases that reflect the particular requirements of people with disabilities to make sure such applications are usable.
Flex provides 28 accessible components. These accelerate the development of accessible applications by automating many of the most common accessibility practices, such as providing text equivalents, labeling controls, and promoting keyboard access. Using these components helps ensure a consistent user experience across rich applications. Accessible components include the following:
Custom components developed for use in Flex are not accessible to assistive technology users without developer attention. Developers must hand-code MSAA data. Because the effort involved in creating accessible components is significant, Adobe recommends that developers use the components provided whenever possible. Get more information about MSAA.
As a designer or developer, you can incorporate accessibility use cases into every phase of the development process and significantly affect both the accessibility and usability of your site for users with disabilities. With the robust set of accessibility features built into Flex, you can create Flex content that is accessible and usable by people with disabilities.
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If you have questions or comments or want to get involved with Adobe’s accessibility efforts, contact us. We welcome your feedback.