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The End of Adobe Flash

I come to bury Flash, not to praise it, writes Matt May in this excellent thread about the end of Adobe Flash. Not so long ago, web designers used Flash to create striking visuals and animations and games. But shortly after that, it began to replace HTML and CSS which caused a ton of accessibility problems. Most Flash websites weren’t navigable by keyboard and screen readers couldn’t parse them at all.

Matt describes this core problem at the very heart of Flash: the fact that it excluded so many people from the web back then.

The biggest joke of the 2000s around Flash was that it was a tool for making restaurant menus. Flash devs made apps that looked the way restaurateurs wanted them, and sold them in bulk. But how they did it was by faking buttons, scroll bars, etc. It was a picture of an interface.

— Matt May (@mattmay) December 31, 2020

“A picture of an interface” is a good way to think about it. But, overall, I reckon this thread is important because it reinforces the idea that we ought to think about accessibility every single day, regardless of whether we’re working on a large web app, a tiny marketing website, or contributing to an enormous JavaScript framework:

Finally: if you make the platform, you have an immense responsibility to the people who build on it, and the people who use it. In a very real way, you set the upper limit on how many people get to participate equitably within your ecosystem. NEVER, EVER forget this fact.

— Matt May (@mattmay) December 31, 2020

Every day we write code, we’re deciding who is welcome and who is not.

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