Monday, October 25, 2004

wmode woes

Developing for an IE only user-base can have its upside; you can take advantage of some specific features which are not always available in other browsers, such as the Wmode Flash parameter.
Unfortunately, I've come across some accessibility issues using this handy doovy, which allows the Flash movie to sit transparently on the page, particulary useful with layers (or flyout menus), which are then not obscured, or simply to let the background of the page show through (no color matching issues).

In effect, both Wmode Transparent and Opaque not only render the Flash movie invisible to screenreaders but also remove it from the tab order of the page, even though it still appears. For sighted users who interact with the keyboard, this means that tabbing bypasses the movie - unless they actually click on it with the mouse, which kind of defeats the idea of accessibility.

I had thought that putting focus onto the movie using javascript might help but it doesn't seem to work.

So, ditch this parameter unless your Flash is purely decorative or you are providing alternative content. If there are layering issues with pop-ups etc, then consider opening the Flash in a separate layer or window.

I'm still investigating, but so far this seems to be the lay of the land.

On the otherhand, if you actually DO want to keep Flash content hidden from screenreaders, this could be a possibility...

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