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Usability of ARIA combobox


From: Catt, James
Date: Nov 27, 2018 1:34PM

Hi all, I'm looking for some input/opinions from regular screen reader users on the usability of ARIA combobox patterns.

When following the ARIA combobox authoring practices (https://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria-practices-1.1/#combobox), it seems as though the information read out by JAWS & NVDA when focusing the text input isn't that helpful. NVDA announces that it's a combobox, but doesn't provide any further info. JAWS adds that the arrow keys can be used to navigate the list, and may announce the expanded state of the listbox depending on the implementation. Generally speaking, though, by default there doesn't seem to be much info read out to inform the user that there's a list of suggestions available-it seems like they would have to be familiar with the design pattern and just guess that it's there.

A better implementation seems to the be one used on expedia.ca - they use a live region to announce the number of results and tell the user that they can use the arrow keys to navigate.

To regular SR users: do you encounter/use comboboxes often in the wild? Do you find they're useful and/or intuitive?

Thanks in advance!

James Catt
Inclusive Design Consultant, OLB | CIBC Digital