Accessibility Considerations for Design Patterns

Colin Clark colin.clark at
Wed Aug 15 19:02:18 UTC 2007

Hi all,

This discussion about accessibility for our design patterns has been 
really interesting!

Anastasia's got a good point about ARIA. As we start to build rich user 
interfaces that more closely mimic the kinds of interactions we see in 
desktop applications, there is the potential for significant 
accessibility improvements.

On the other hand, ARIA is fairly involved and requires a deep 
understanding of the various roles, states and properties that are 
appropriate for a particular UI. This is one of the places where the 
design patterns can be really helpful for the swiss army-type developer. 
If we can identify the ARIA markup that is most appropriate for the 
particular context, we'll be saving developers a lot of time.

Of course, Fluid components will all have this markup built right in, so 
anyone who uses one will get it for free. ;)

I'll make sure we allocate some time for Anastasia and other ATRC Fluid 
developers to help add ARIA information to the patterns. We've been 
learning a *lot* about it recently. If you have experience with ARIA and 
are willing to lend a hand, please do!


Anastasia Cheetham wrote:
> Mike, this looks really good.
> In the Design Pattern Accessibility page, you may wish to add  
> information about the work that WAI is doing as part of their  
> Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) suite of specifications.  
> Their roadmap document
> provides an overview of the specifications.
> Currently, HTML only allows script authors to place focus on form and  
> anchor elements. Much of today's markup is structured such that  
> effective navigation requires focus on other types of elements, such  
> as div elements.
> The WAI ARIA work is incorporating a feature into Firefox and IE to  
> support a tabindex value of -1, to allow scripts to set focus on  
> elements that are not within the regular tab order. This is described  
> in more detail in section 5.1.3 of the document:
> There is also an 'activedescendent' attribute which indicates which  
> child element of a currently focussed element is active. The Fluid  
> Lightbox component uses this attribute to indicate which thumbnail in  
> the Gallery collection is currently active when the Lightbox itself  
> has focus.
> This information is specified in detail in the States and Properties  
> specification:
> in particular:

Colin Clark
Technical Lead, Fluid Project
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto

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