Reading up on WAI-ARIA

One of the more problematic areas of web accessibility is how to handle the custom widgets and dynamic changes to content used in most web applications and on many content-based websites.

Using JavaScript to add custom behaviour and update content can cause problems for people who rely on assistive technology (AT) such as screen readers. The problems often consist of the AT not being aware that content on the page has changed, the user not noticing that something has changed, or the user being aware that something changed but not what.

These problems can be tricky to solve, but there is hope in the form of Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA). From the WAI-ARIA Overview:

WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.

I have only just started reading up on WAI-ARIA, but it looks very promising. It is also time to start using it to improve the accessibility of web applications that make heavy use of JavaScript.

Since I’m a WAI-ARIA novice myself I won’t try to explain the details of how to use it. I can offer you plenty of links to further reading though:

Posted on November 3, 2008 in Accessibility, Web Standards, JavaScript