Why a WAI-ARIA Developer Portal is Important

Making dynamic web content accessible is a huge challenge.

WAI-ARIA is the best available solution today. It’s supported in all major browsers and enables almost any dynamic content to be made accessible — that’s great. Accessibility is really important. But man oh man, understanding WAI-ARIA is not easy for developers, who aren’t always born as accessibility experts.

Here are some of the challenges developers face with WAI-ARIA:

  • Implementations are different across browsers and screen readers.
  • It’s hard to find up-to-date documentation and examples.
  • It’s not clear if the markup is correct. Even if it validates with validator.nu, that doesn’t mean it will actually be accessible.
  • Learning what actually works where is near impossible. It requires combing through out-of-date blogs and doing your own testing. There are too many tricky combinations to deal with.

Scary! If I were new to accessibility … let’s not go there. But, the answer is not to give up. The web is dynamic, and accessibility is important. The answer is definitely not  to create a plain version just for users with disabilities. That’s just bad.

Web developers need an ARIA developer portal. And, I’m asking for contributors. The web development community has to solve this information vacuum for itself.

Even requests are useful. Please use the Talk page on the site to provide feedback. Or, join the free-aria mailing list and discuss it there.

Or better yet, jump in and help us organize. We could really use a writer who understands JavaScript. If you don’t know WAI-ARIA then you’re perfect.

And if you have WAI-ARIA expertise, hear my over-the-top plea. Put some of your blog and Twitter energy into a living document! Everything else ages too fast.  Just update one  article or example.  It will pay back many times.

Take a look! And register for an account on MDN :)

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2 Responses to Why a WAI-ARIA Developer Portal is Important

  1. Peter T. says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I tried to help get wiki.codetalks.org/ going but sort of gave up due to hosting issues etc. Perhaps it’s time for another try :) So, are you asking for contributions to Moz’s ARIA doc. or a new shiny one hosted somewhere else?

    • aaronlev says:

      Hi Peter. We’re moving to developer.mozilla.org for the foreseeable future. It’s working well, and Google/Opera have both contributed to devmo in the past. No one has recommended anything else!

      I took your live region article and simplified it a little bit, and ported it over. It still needs work though — want to take a look?

      https://developer.mozilla.org/en/ARIA/Live_Regions

      I might need to take aria-controls out, as it’s not clear that ATs look at that for live regions.

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