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H810: Week 15: Activity 31.3

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H810: Week 15: Activity 31.3: Accessible Rich Internet Applications

WAI-ARIA Overview (W3C, 2009)

Focus on the issues that are identified and the strategy of the proposal.

Aspects of traditional Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) make accessible support of dynamic content difficult:

1.   Accessibility of dynamic content relies on abstracting semantics from both content and presentational information. Extracting semantic cues from current HTML content is typically unreliable as the cues are limited to tag elements names.

2.   While HTML allows content to be repurposed for presentational formatting, it lacks the ability to attach meaningful metadata about document structure and to convey semantic information. A common example of this is content formatted with tables rather than style sheets.

3.   When combined with script and cascading style sheets (CSS), HTML can be repurposed to create dynamic custom components without providing a means to convey semantic information to native accessibility architectures designed to support dynamic graphical user interface (GUI) content.

4.   Custom components built from common HTML elements often are not keyboard accessible.

JavaScript needs an accessibility architecture to write to such that a solution can be mapped to the accessibility frameworks on the native platform by the user agent.

WAI-ARIA allows web pages (or portions of pages) to declare themselves as applications rather than as static documents, by adding role, property, and state information to dynamic web applications. ARIA is intended for use by developers of web applications, web browsers, assistive technologies, and accessibility evaluation tools.

WAI-ARIA describes how to add semantics and other metadata to HTML content in order to make user interface controls and dynamic content more accessible. For example, with WAI-ARIA it is possible to identify a list of links as a navigation menu and to state whether it is expanded or collapsed. Although originally developed to address accessibility issues in HTML, the use of WAI-ARIA is not limited to HTML: in principle, it can also be used in other markup languages such as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG).

Fluid. Designing software that works - for everyone (Fluid Project, 2009)

Fluid is a worldwide collaborative project to help improve the usability and accessibility of community open source projects with a focus on academic software for universities.

Carry out an internet search to see which web browsers support WAI-ARIA. The following all support WAI-ARIA to some extent:

Firefox 1.5 onwards

Internet Explorer 5 onwards




"Mozilla leads the pack and Microsoft is doing good work (some may think  suprisingly), all browser vendors are making an effort to support WAI ARIA and in the process improving the general accessibility of their browsers and web content to Assistive Technology."
WAI-ARIA role support - How the MAC browsers stack up

Posted by Steve Faulkner on March 17, 2009;


What do think might be the difficulties of achieving widespread adoption of accessible Web 2.0?

Hmm! Did some research and discovered a big fight between WAI-ARIA supporters and WHAT-WG who deals with the HTML5, although I did find out that this is outmoded now and they just talk about new developments in HTML. I did not understand all the technical detail but the more rational participants in the heated debates were saying that there were small things that needed sorting out but it was possible to implement both systems. Several on the WHAT-WG seemed annoyed that they could not directly address the WAI-ARIA team and sort out problems but just submit their ideas to the team with no responses.



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