ARIA: A Quick Overview

ARIA is Accessible Rich Internet Applications, a set of standards under development by the W3C. It’s part of the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative).

ARIA provides ways to describe roles supported by content. Roles include such things as “menu,” “treeitem,” “slider,” and “progressmeter,” Roles can also describe structure, with roles like “article,” “heading,” “complementary,” and “rowheader.”
ARIA provides properties that describe state. State properties can include things like “checked” for a check box, or “haspopup” for a menu. Properties can also describe parts of a page that may be updated—for example, stock quotes—or properties for drag and drop resources.

Providing information about roles and properties makes the page more accessible. The WAI-ARIA Overview states,

It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies. Currently certain functionality used in Web sites is not available to some users with disabilities, especially people who rely on screen readers and people who cannot use a mouse. WAI-ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining new ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced Web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities.

Roles and properties are added as properties to HTML elements. Examples:

<div role=”main”>
<nav role=”navigation”>
<div role="button" aria-haspopup="true">

Where to learn more

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