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Web Accessibility Policy of the State of Maine

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Implementation Guidelines

14. Applets and Plug-Ins

14.1 – Avoid plug-ins if possible, but when necessary use accessible applets or plug-ins.

What:
"Applets" and "plug-ins" refer to a variety of newer web technologies, such as Java and Flash, that can be used to create advanced, interactive content on web pages. Both require additional software to be downloaded, installed, and run before the content can be viewed or used. Applets and plug-ins also operate with their own user interfaces, which are separate and different from that of standard web pages.

Why:
Because applets and plug-ins have their own interfaces, they must be accessible in and of themselves. If essential content or functionality is presented using an applet or plug-in that is not accessible, it will not be usable by individuals with disabilities.

How:
Check with the manufacturer and/or developer of each applet or plug-in to determine if and how the technology is accessible. Whenever a link is provided to content that requires an applet or plug-in, the text should indicate the applet or plug-in that is required and provide a link to an accessible download site for the plug-in (e.g., “Flash Player 6 required to view the presentation.”). If an accessible applet or plug-in is available, provide users with a link to any special instructions or software that is necessary.

Ref: WCAG 8.1; 508 m

14.2 - If an inaccessible applet or plug-in must be used, provide an accessible alternative that includes the same content and functionality.

What:
If an applet or plug-in is inaccessible, it may be possible to provide both the original applet or object and an equivalent accessible alternative.

Why:
The same features that make an applet or plug-in inaccessible to some users may actually improve accessibility or usability for users without, or with different, disabilities. By providing both the original and accessible versions, the same content and functionality can be available to all users.

How:
Wherever a link is provided to an inaccessible applet or object, also provide a link to an equivalent accessible version. Make sure that the information and functionality is completely equivalent and up-to-date. Be sure to consider whether the inaccessible version is actually necessary.

In cases where it is impossible to create an equivalent accessible version, such as with some geographical imaging and mapping systems, exceptions may be necessary.

Ref: WCAG 6.2, 11.4; 508 k