It seems fitting with Coldplay being in Auckland last week and Yellow producing a custom version of IE8 that we continue the Yellow theme.
Back in December 2006 Forrester released a report titled Smackdown: Rich Internet Applications Versus HTML
We found that, on average, RIAs outperform HTML interfaces; at the same time, RIA usability can fall prey to basic design mistakes.
The view that RIA’s are not accessible has continued for some but the W3C is working to change this with the introduction of the Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)
From the early stages of development of IE8 the team have worked closely with the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative group and Assistive Technology Vendors (ATVs). IE8 shipped with a bunch of new Accessibility Features including ARIA support.
So now that IE8 is supporting ARIA what does this mean for developers that are looking at building RIA’s using technologies like Silverlight and Flash and want to ensure that they are accessible as well?
Silverlight contains a number of accessibility features but there are few examples where these had been used to create a reference application so Microsoft approached Intergen who worked closely with The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind to build one.
Andrew Tokeley does a fantastic job of explaining this project in detail on his blog.
Chris Auld and Reed Shaffner presented this project during a mini-breakout at MIX09 last week. If you are interested in more context for this project I recommend that you download and watch their half hour presentation Building Accessible RIAs in Microsoft Silverlight.
If you are wondering how to create DIASY content Reed has previously been involved in a project to build an Open XML to DAISY translator.