WAI-ARIA, last call for comments and what you think counts

As I predicted last year 2009 is shaping up to be the year that a lot of work that has gone on behind the scenes in accessibility goes mainstream.

Last week W3C announced a call for review of Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines just as Bespin an HTML editing tool built using inaccessible CANVAS was published kicking off a huge debate on the WAI XTECH Working group list.

Today,  W3C announced Last Call for WAI-ARIA (the Web Accessibility Rich Internet Applications Suite (but with much less controversy). This is great news and timely indeed given that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) became a W3C Recommendation in December of last year. WAI-ARIA and WCAG are very much part of each other and having both finished will mean that website owners can push forward with accessible, rich and dynamic websites in earnest.

WAI-ARIA is the cumulation of a lot of hard from from people who are far cleverer than me so when I read that it had gone to last call I thought to myself “I’ll have a look but I’m not sure what I can add”.  How wrong I was. Not long after it was announced Micheal Cooper of W3C sent round an email the asking a few specific questions. Many of these relate to not just the technical aspects of the specification but also the understandability for non-JavaScript people such as myself.

So, if you have accessibility experience either first hand or professionally have a look and let the W3C know what you think:

For the WAI-ARIA 1.0 specification:

  • Does the role ontology provide the information and operations that people with disabilities need in order to access and operate richly interactive Web applications?
  • Is the usage of roles, states, and properties clear?
  • Is it clear how to create Rich Internet Applications with this added capability?
  • Are conformance requirements clear, and sufficient but not excessive?

For the Best Practices document:

  • Is it clear how to create Rich Internet Applications?
  • Is the usage of roles, states, and properties clear?
  • Are the various types of rich Web content covered?
  • Are considerations beyond the use of WAI-ARIA sufficiently explained?
  • Is the relationship of this document to the WAI-ARIA specification clear?

For the User Agent Implementation Guide:

  • Are the accessibility APIs in common use today covered?
  • Are all the features needed by accessibility APIs to make rich content accessible addressed?
  • Are considerations beyond the use of WAI-ARIA sufficiently explained?
  • Is the relationship of this document to the WAI-ARIA specification clear?
  • Should this document become normative or remain informative?

The more input the better as it leads to a better specification that we can all use. All feedback can be emailed to the working group.

4 thoughts on “WAI-ARIA, last call for comments and what you think counts

  1. Your e-mail address links in recent entries are being published as relative link without your website. Perhaps prefixing them with mailto: will make the blogging software realise they are e-mail links and then they’ll publish correctly?

  2. This is all so new, I’m still concerned that authors will go straight to the specs and get turned off from understanding the basics. The Best Practices Guide isn’t a bad place to start though. But, I think we need to good job of advertising all the ARIA resources out there! For example, there is the codetalks.org website which points to lots of other resources, and has test cases to play with.

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