So my news aggregator captured an essay from Juicy Studios about how people with learning and cognitive disabilities got shortchanged by the WAI. After reading it, I have to say that Mr. Leitch is a little too confrontational. It is true that for some people with illiteracy, dyslexia or other learning disabilities, the Web is hard to deal with. For these people multimedia, represented by Flash objects, java applets, video clips and so on, is probably better than ordinary text and hyperlinks. And that’s one of Mr. Leitch’s points.
However I disagree with him that balancing visual disabilities with learning disabilities is always a zero-sum game. For example, improving how a site recites in a screen reader is also better for people with dylexia because that means they too can have sites read to them in a non-confusing manner. Improving accessibility doesn’t mean the categorical removal of all Flash objects. It means replacing badly designed Flash objects with ones that are fully keyboard accessible and that recite in a manner that makes sense in screen readers.
It is possible to have accessible Web design withouth pitting one type of disability against another. It is possible have improvements for one benefit another. I don’t think Mr. Leitch understands that. Juicy Studios has a followup on this issue, specifically using markup to aid information chunking