File Under: APIs, HTML5, Web Standards

Improve Your Website’s Accessibility With the W3C’s ‘Guide to Using ARIA’

WAI-ARIA, the W3C’s specification for Accessible Rich Internet Applications, provides web developers with a means of annotating page elements with the roles, properties, and states that define exactly what those elements do. The added definitions help screen readers and other assistive devices navigate through your website.

We’ve looked at how you can use ARIA roles to not just improve your site’s accessibility, but style elements as well, but now you can get the official word from the W3C. The W3C has published the First Public Working Draft of Using WAI-ARIA in HTML.

The W3C’s guide goes beyond the ARIA Landmark Roles that we’ve covered in the past, offering suggestions on how ARIA can help with HTML5 apps that load dynamic content or build entire interfaces with JavaScript. In fact, this is where the true power of ARIA comes into play since there is often no other way for assistive devices to get at your application’s data.

Unfortunately not everything in the ARIA spec works in every screen reader. Support for the landmark roles is pretty solid, but much of the rest remains a work in progress. As always there’s no substitute for real world testing.