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Plug and Play? Not Yet

In the previous chapter, we discovered ways in which multimedia content can be rendered most accessibly. This chapter explores in greater detail the tools that create and render that content. Scripts, applets, and plug-ins are some of the most powerful tools available to Web authors who wish to add a high level of interactivity and variety to the content they offer on their Web pages. Use of sophisticated interactive tools can greatly increase the functionality of Web pages but too often results in content that is inaccessible. It need not be so. As the need for universal access has become more widely understood and accepted, cooperative efforts have emerged for the purpose of creating cross-browser accessibility solutions and alternatives for the use of plug-ins, applets, and scripts. IBM, Sun Microsystems, and the National Center for Accessible Media are among the leaders whose work in publicizing and implementing W3C recommendations and Section 508 federal standards for accessible emerging technologies we explore in this chapter.

To ensure that Web pages that employ scripts, applets, and plugins can deliver content that is accessible to everyone, Web authors must be aware of accessibility principles and fully integrate those principles into programming and development. This chapter applies general accessibility principles to the process of interactive Web page development, regardless of the script, applet, or plug-in chosen for the task. We ask you once again to think always in terms of delivering content that is separate from presentation (see Chapter 15 for further discussion of this point). Important information exchange can thus be made accessible for all users, not just those with graphical browsers attached to fast networks.


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