Opera developer James Edwards makes a point about AJAX and accessibility. I definitely see, and mostly agree with, his point. But one must consider the subtleties. If a particular user interaction makes a function significantly more simple for most users to understand or interact with, but it’s not accessible, the developer has to do a lot of soul searching. Is the solution as good? His Flickr remake example works, but it’s nowhere near as appealing as Flickr’s current interface. You have to edit all the fields at once. You have to take extra steps, as a sighted user, to work with the page. But most importantly, it looks nothing like your final product when you’re interacting with it. That’s the appeal of Flickr’s current interface…there’s no difference in the admin interface and the end-user interface. It just works.
So while the point is very well taken, there has to be some happy medium, for the sake of usability. We can’t throw away, or significantly dumb down, some ideal usability for mainstream users simply to make something ideally accessible. We should make it BOTH accessible AND usable at the same time. It can be done, but it’s hard.