FSOSS 2012: Accessible Applications

Attending FSOSS (Free Software and Open Source Symposium) 2012 this morning. One session in particular caught my eye since I’ve been looking into how to make our web services more accessible, but just writing about making anything we might offer students more accessible. So here are my notes:

Accessibility: Importance, Challenges, Technology, and Implementation

Chad Pilkey & Justin Robinson

A lot of people (10-20% of population) have a functional disability. Not just an ethical issues, but also a legal one.

Software student is working on is using Adobe Flex 4 with its own Accessibility Framework using API.

Need to plan ahead of time and can make it much more user friendly.


  • accessible rich internet applications
  • allows for dynamic content compatible with screen readers
  • assist HTML5 with flex-like accessibility features
  • useful to those who need it; invisible to those who don’t


  • flex: uncooperative components, potential obsolescence e.g label components will not be read (have to use built-in labels)
  • HTML5: not yet standardized, may remain that way for the next 2 years

Combined both in order to make up some of the limitations.

Need to test!


  • metadata
  • hot keys or way to skip past chunks of content
  • ability to change colours & fonts
  • larger buttons (don’t require very high precision)
  • a/v: transcripts, captions, volume control

There are definitely more considerations, but they didn’t list them all.

I didn’t include many notes on importance, types of disabilities, and screenreaders, etc., so more general information since I’m familiar with much of it and have blogged about it (which I’ll repost shortly).

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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