[whatwg] Dynamic content accessibility in HTML today

Aaron Leventhal aaronlev at moonset.net
Thu Aug 10 15:04:34 PDT 2006

Firefox has support for making dynamic web applications with custom JS 
widgets accessible, via support for xhtml:role and aaa: properties. If 
anyone would be interested in taking a look, I would welcome feedback.

In Firefox 1.5 the role attribute had to use the xhtml2 namespace. 
However, Firefox 2 will allow the role attribute in XHTML 1.x.
See "XHTML Role Attribute Module":  

I have a specific question: what about adding the role attribute to 
whatwg specs?

I know Hixie mentioned that he would prefer the element tag itself 
always specify the role, rather than using a role attribute which can 
conflict and override that. XBL was going to be the solution for 
creating custom widgets, which I prefer myself. In an ideal world, I 
think we'd be able to just create new custom widgets via XBL and define 
that accessibility there.

However, I thought I'd ask anyway because the role attribute does fill 
some niches:
1) a11y in SVG
2) roles that no specs today have, which provide important accessibility 
functions, such as liveregion for AJAX accessibility (perhaps we should 
try to synchronize the 2 sometime)
3) ability to fix a11y in JS apps that exist today
4) ability to create new custom roles -- this is still under development 
(at the moment it uses RDF, but I believe the group will consider XBL 
moving forward)
5) The role attribute allows us to specify additional semantics without 
conflicting with older browsers

For more info --

Here are some docs for those interested in comparing what we have with 
Developer docs & intro: 

For those who have w3c member access (apologies for that):
Roles: http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/Group/GUI/roleTaxonomy-20060809/

- Aaron

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