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Info widgets with role="dialog"


From: Detlev Fischer
Date: Jan 20, 2015 2:50AM


I wonder whether there is consensus in the community, especially among screen reader users, whether modal pop-ups that contain non-form elements such as tab panels, data tables with information etc. should be marked up as dialog.

My understanding is that the dialog role pushes screen readers into a quasi-forms mode which means that content that is not focusable may not be read without the user manually switching back to reader mode.
This means that a widget that may be predominantly a form (e.g. with several text inputs, selects, checkboxes etc.) but ALSO contains some other elements (e.g. a text "Assign owner: [current owner]" followed by a link "change") may be missed when the widget is traversed in the default mode triggered by opening a widget with role=dialog. (Or here, "change" may be read but the context is not clear). I understand that the aria-labelledby and aria-describedby attributes do not work reliably on links so they cannot be used to render non-focusable content in a way that it will be read by default.

My three questions are:

1. When calling up a dialog, will screen reader users generally know / expect that they (may) have to switch to a reader mode to reach non-focusable content?
2. If 1 is answered in the negative, should info-widgets better NOT be given role=dialog unless all content can be tied to the element containing the dialog role or to focusable elements within the dialog via aria-labelledby or aria-describedby (or via accessibly hidden extra link text)?
3. Is adding tabindex=0 to ensure that usually non-focusable content is read a good practice to solve this particular problem?

Detlev Fischer
testkreis c/o feld.wald.wiese
Thedestr. 2, 22767 Hamburg

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