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RNIB ‘disappointed’ in Macromedia

Blind still can't read Flash

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The RNIB - the UK charity that helps people with sight problems - has described as "disappointing" Macromedia's attempts to make its Web design software accessible to people with disabilities.

Its assessment follows the recent introduction of Macromedia's Flash MX technology, which enables blind people to view Web sites using screenreaders.

Earlier versions of the popular Flash Web design tool were inaccessible to blind.

In a bid to test whether Flash MX was up to scratch, the RNIB commissioned Web outfit, Bluewave, to create an online game that would be accessible to blind people using Flash MX.

The RNIB wanted to know just how accessible Flash files really are to people with disabilities.

"We're disappointed with the results," said Julie Howell, Campaigns Officer (Internet) for the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB).

From the outset files created in Flash MX were only accessible to the latest version of the Windoweyes screenreader.

And if other screenreaders were used, Flash files were still inaccessible, she said.

Julie believes this situation is simply unacceptable and has vowed to continue to lobby Macromedia so that it can continue to develop products that can be read by all access technologies.

"Macromedia needs to recognise its social responsibility - disabled people shouldn't be locked out of the Web," she said.

While the RNIB is nowhere near satisfied with the progress made to date, it is calling on Web designers to use the new software. ®

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