[whatwg] Dynamic content accessibility in HTML today

James Graham jg307 at cam.ac.uk
Thu Aug 24 10:36:53 PDT 2006

Matthew Raymond wrote:

So [snip]ping lots of stuff that is kinda interesting but not in a very relevant 

>    The language of the |role| specification is actually unclear. The
> intro indicates that |role| can be used to "describe the semantic
> meaning" of elements, while Section 3 says the following:
>    "It is used by applications and assistive technologies to determine
> the purpose of UI widgets."

OK, I think I hadn't appreciated just how vague the W3C document is. I propose 
we standardise the following:

A role attribute which may appear on (only non-semantic?) elements to indicate 
that that element is part of a DHTML widget and not marked-up prose. The role 
attribute would not be namespaced (in HTML5, in XHTML5... well who knows). The 
role attribute would take certain predefined values (not those on the W3C page 
which are largely useless, e.g. banner, or otherwise covered in HTML5, e.g. 
navlist) corresponding to the various types of UI widgets understood by the 
accessibility toolkits. As far as possible we would stick to whatever Firefox 
currently implements, but we would simplify the syntax where necessary (e.g. 
avoid qnames wherever possible). Values outside the predefined list would make 
the document non-conforming.

Does that sound reasonable or have I totally missed the point?

"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?"
  -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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