When is the gee-whiz Flash graphic worth it?

Online Journalism Review has written a piece about how to decide when to treat a story with a Flash graphic or when to just go the basic HTML page route (thanks Angela). Certainly, many newsrooms are exercising greater sophistication with making this decision than they have in the past.
But one issue in regards to this that seldom gets discussed is accessibility. Newspapers have a pretty dismal record of catering to visually impaired and other special-needs users. When planning a Flash graphic for the news site, you should also ask yourself:

1) Is this graphic conveying any crucial information to the reader, such as where to get ice during a disaster?

2) If we do a graphic, is there a way to provide the information in an alternative form, such as a transcript or a static HTML page that contains no interfering style elements or Flash graphics?

While I’m not an evangelist for making every single thing on a news site accessible (where would we be without cool Soundslides after all), do try to consider ways where you can include everyone in your journalism when possible.

Author: Danny Sanchez

Danny Sanchez is the Audience Development Manager at Tribune's Sun-Sentinel.com and OrlandoSentinel.com. Danny has been with Tribune since 2005 in a variety of editorial, digital and product development roles in Hartford, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. He has also previously worked in the newsrooms of the Tampa Bay Times and The Miami Herald.

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