There is no way to be polite about this, so I’m not even going to try: I hate “sIFR”:http://www.mikeindustries.com/sifr/ with a passion, and I think it should die.
I know that it probably gives some designers orgasms, I know that these designers care about typography. I know that you think sIFR is accessible. I’ve got a surprise for you: *It’s not.* Some of you may also think that it offers usability improvements. Another surprise: *It doesn’t.*
h3. Keyboard navigation
While some people may prefer using the mouse for navigating their way around documents, not everyone does.
I frequently navigate my way around documents by using the keyboard. You see, I use this nifty browser named “Opera”:http://www.opera.com/, that allows me to move between document links using the Q and A headings using the W and S keys, and I can move between arbitary document elements using E and D. When you navigate by keyboard this way, Opera selects whatever text you have just moved to. This text selection works as an important placeholder, since you will want a visual clue of where you are when you don’t use a pointing device.
sIFR breaks that, so you end up accessing something you can’t see. *Inaccessible, and unusable.*
h3. Mouse selection
Guess what. Even if I am a keyboard user, I also have a mouse, and I frequently use it to select text. Yes, if you write interesting stuff, I will want to quote it. sIFR prevents me from doing that in any useful way.
If I start text selection outside of the little, replaced Flash object, I, again, don’t actually see what I’m selecting when my selection begins before and ends after the Flash object. Which always makes me wonder: “What did it select”. *This is, unsurprisingly, unusable.*
What’s worse, though, is if I, God forbid, want to actually start my selection with a heading. I then get a visual clue that I’m selecting something with my mouse, but since it’s the Flash object that now has focus, I can’t select past the end of the object. I first have to copy the Flash text, go paste it wherever I want, and I then have to go back to the document, and copy the rest of the text I want to paste. *This is, even more unsurprisingly, totally unusable.*
Here’s another surprise: Not everyone uses the same font sizes as you do. When I was still in university, one of my fellow students had vision problems. She was not blind, but she was dependent on assistive technology, and she _did not use a screen reader._
In fact, she managed quite well with the zoom facility of her browser (again, Opera), surfing at something like 500% zoom.
Guess what: sIFR breaks that. sIFR-replaced text is *totally inaccessible if you are dependent on zooming pages.* The simple reason for this is that in your oh-so-holy quest for “orgasm-inducing typography”, you are using _bitmap fonts,_ which unlike normal fonts won’t zoom when you use Opera to zoom a page. Flash bitmaps stay at the same fixed size.
*Utterly, totally inaccessible*
Here’s another surprise for you: Not everyone that uses Opera’s zoom feature, or Firefox’s font sizing is blind. I have a high-quality monitor from Eizo. It’s a CRT, which means I can change my resolution to something sensible, and I’m running 1440×1080 on a 17″ screen. I could have used an ever higher resolution. Because of this, I frequently zoom pages, often to the 180-200% range, so I can run my browser full-screen, and just lean a bit back to read.
Everything on my screen looks nice, from the images that are resized, to the text that’s in a size I can easily read. Even regular Flash applications zoom, so that if I decide to play a Flash game, I get it at a size I feel comfortable with.
There is one exception to that everything: sIFR-“enhanced” text. It stays at the same size. While I can still read it, it breaks all that nice typography and layout, and the carefully designed page now looks unusually ugly.
So: use text to display text. Not Flash.