WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Wai Aria how useful?


From: Birkir RĂșnar Gunnarsson
Date: Jul 22, 2010 1:30PM

There are a few inherent problems with Aria.
To use it I believe that you need Firefox 3.5 or newer, IE8. As for
screen readers I think it is Jaws 10 and above, Window Eyes 7 and
above and Hal/Dolphin 11.2 and above (NVDA does a good job of
recognizing Aria).
You definitely cannot expect your users to be so up-to-date given the
price of upgrades and relatively lousy set of improvements at least in
Jaws lately (no bashing intended, Ijust feel that upgrades from Jaws 9
have hardly been worth it).
Another issue is clashes between screen reader key strokes while
navigating a web page and assigned Aria keyboard shortcuts. The
application element is supposed to turn off screen reader key
functionality but this does not always seem to work properly (I will
admit I lack expertees in this area, I am looking at it but this was
discussed at length at the ICCHP conference I just attended).
Thus a screen reader user must pass every keysroke to an Aria page
through the screen reader by using the designed pass through key, and
that is a relatively advanced operation (or rather, having the user
recognize the need to do this is fairly advanced, one has to
understand what type of page is being encounterred and what that means
for navigation).
Even if both of these issues are resoled and you have a user with
compatible SR and browser and the switching off works, there is still
a worrying lack of standards regarding keyboard mapping of aria
elements, which means the user has to continually return to some type
of on page help to see what keystrokes are required for what action
(See GoogleReader as an example).
These help messages do not (perhaps cannot) appear in a virtual
buffer, meaning it is hard to copy them and recall them in a text
document, so you have to kepp clicking on some type of help / overview
on the page that tells you the functionality of each key stroke.
There is a brilliant video demo about this, I will post it if I manage
to dig it up from my conference lecture notes, which I will have time
for over the weekend.
/basically, yopu have to expect not all users can use Aria and even
for those who can, a lot of thought needs to go in to the key mapping
and you must ensure that the user can access a simple keyboard help
overview in a convenient format somehow (perhaps have it downloadable
as a .txt file or plain html page that opens in a new window or tab).
Hope some of these thoughts help, plesae keep us updated and I will
post back once I have sorted out my notes.

On 7/22/10, Seth Kane < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
> I have had little to no luck with ARIA unless you have the latest and great
> version of both browsers and screen readers. It isn't ready for the lowest
> common denominator just yet. Maybe HTML5 will be better.
> Seth Kane
> -----Original Message-----
> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of
> Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:13 PM
> To: WebAIM Discussion List
> Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Wai Aria how useful?
> Nancy Johnson wrote:
>> How useful is WAI Aria to the average screen reader user who may not be
>> technically inclined?
> It depends on what version of a screenreader and browser they
> have. With JAWS 11 + Firefox 3, for example, live regions get
> announced in ways that some people find helpful (depending on how
> well they have encoded).
>> Does this also help the mobility impaired user who is not visually
>> impaired?
> I have found that there are circumstances in which ARIA
> navigation changes the way the wonderful Firefox add-on
> Mouseless Browsing interacts with a webpage in a way that gives
> me more control over Ajax drop-down menus. I haven't narrowed it
> down to exactly what features make things better, but I've been
> meaning to.
> -deborah