Adobe Systems INC. provides a variety of tools that are used around the world. Websites are utilizing flash content to make the internet experience more fun and interactive for users. Many are putting their content into protected PDF files, even taking it a step further and using this format for applications or forms that can be filled out and submitted. The use of these tools can cause huge barriers in terms of accessibility, but not for the reasons you may think.
For quite some time now, Adobe has been very concerned about their accessibility. They have been active in making their software work in various situations involving screen readers and other enabling devices for users with disabilities. There is an Adobe Accessibility blog, where you can find news and information pertaining to that topic. A tool called Flex Accessibility is available to make it easier to creat accessible Adobe content. You’ll see that there are jaws scripts available for download that will improve the performance of Adobe products while using that screen reader. Adobe is working to educate its users, so that they can make their content work better with regard to accessibility. The tools are there, people just need to learn about them and know how to best use them.
So you see, the accessibility barriers are not caused by the use of adobe. You can use PDF and flash and it can be accessible. However, it does take some effort on the part of the web designers and authors of the files, because these can also be made very inaccessible. If you are using adobe software on a website or to distribute files, there are a ton of resources out there, so take advantage and ask questions, work to make your adobe content as accessible as possible!
Knowbility can also help in this endeavor! We have been involved in evaluating and remediating PDF and flash, both on and off of the internet. One thing you can do if you are interested in Adobe accessibility is sign up for some of our courses at AccessU in May! No matter how you do it, know that you can make your use of Adobe fully accessible with a little effort and knowledge.