Combobox role

Description

As you may have seen, most of the forms on the website contain auto suggestion characteristics/features. Let me explain this with simple example. While typing any string in the google search text field, it displays some list of the suggestions dynamically, and this behavior is nothing but auto suggestion behavior. This particular behavior is just not limited to the google search text field but there are many input fields on the web that has these auto suggestion characteristics. Since these auto suggestions are most of the places on the web these days, imagine if these auto suggestions are not accessible to the people with the disabilities. When these auto suggestions are not accessible then it is going to create huge problem to the people with disabilities.

In order to address this problem, ARIA introduces the combobox role. When the combobox role is applied along with required ARIA attributes for the widget that has auto suggestion characteristics then keyboard and screen reader users would get seamless experience. However, it is not that easy to construct accessible auto combobox/auto suggestion widget. Constructing an accessible combobox is one of the trickiest things in the ARIA. The reason is that authors might have to apply multiple ARIA attributes, java script, focus management and so on… at the same time to construct accessible combobox. While applying various techniques at the same time, it is highly possible that authors make mistakes if they are not careful.

That said; let me tell what combobox role is all about with the technical terms. A combobox is a composite widget made up of the combination of two distinct elements: 1) a single-line textbox, and 2) an associated pop-up element for helping users set the value of the textbox. The popup may be a listbox, grid, tree, or dialog.

It is very commonly misunderstood that both ARIA combobox role and HTML select element are one and the same because most of the screen readers interpret both of them as combobox. Although ARIA combobox role and HTML select element are being interpreted as comboboxes by most of the screen reader users, they are not identical but they are similar. The one significant distinct feature between both of them is that ARIA combobox role would contain textbox element whereas HTML select would not contain the textbox element. As per the analysis and my understanding, ARIA listbox role and HTML select are one and the same. In fact, ARIA listbox role contains much more features than HTML select and will discuss more about listbox role in the future blog posts.

Author notes

  • Combobox role must contain or must own a text input element with role textbox or searchbox or native input text field and that the text input has aria-multiline set to false.
  • Aria-Autocomplete attribute must be set with appropriate value (inline, list, both, and none) on the textbox element based on the nature of the suggestion and how those suggestions are presented. Elements that support aria-autocomplete have an implicit aria-autocomplete value of none and the below is the brief description of each aria-autocomplete value. We will discuss about this attribute in details in the future blog posts.
    • While user is typing some string on the text input, it displays the corresponding suggestions in the popup element. If text input gets auto filled  with the first suggestion from the list of the suggestions then set aria-autocomplete=”inline”
    • While user is typing some string on the text input, it displays the corresponding suggestions in the popup element. If user has to select suggestion manually  from the list of the suggestion then set aria-autocomplete=List”
    • While user is typing some string on the text input, it displays the corresponding suggestions in the popup element. If text input gets auto filled  with the first suggestion from the list of the suggestions and suggested string can be selectable then set aria-autocomplete=”both”
    • While user is typing some string on the text input, it displays the same set of the suggestions in the popup element irrespective of the string that user has typed. If these type of behavior is present then set aria-autocomplete=”none”
  • Authors must ensure that that only textbox is visible when the combobox is in the collapsed state and Elements with the role combobox have an implicit aria-expanded value of false
  • Authors must set the value of aria-expanded as true when textbox and secondary element that serves as its popup are visible.
  • Authors MUST ensure it contains or owns an element that has a role of listbox, tree, grid, or dialog when combobox is expanded.
  • Authors MUST set aria-controls on the textbox element to a value that refers to the combobox popup element.
  • Authors must set the value of aria-has popup based on the type of popup element as combobox popup element can be grid, tree, dialog, listbox and Elements with the role combobox have an implicit aria-has popup value of listbox.
  • Authors may set aria-activedescendant on the textbox element if the popup element supports aria-activedescendant and the value of aria-activedescendant must refer to the active element that is in the popup while DOM focus remains on the textbox element. It is important to remember that whenever aria-activedescendant attribute is being set on the textbox element then literal DOM focus does not need to move to the elements contained in the popup to navigate within the popup elements and the DOM focus can remain on the textbox element. There is much more to understand about aria-activedescendant attribute and will discuss in details about this attribute in the future blog posts
  • Authors may set aria-owns attribute on the combobox element if DOM hierarchy cannot be used to represent the relationship and the value of aria-owns must refer to the popup element

Code snippet

<div aria-label=”Tag” role=”combobox” aria-expanded=”true” aria-owns=”owned_listbox” aria-has popup=”listbox”>

    <input type=”text” aria-autocomplete=”list” aria-controls=”owned_listbox” aria-activedescendant=”selected_option”>

</div>

<ul role=”listbox” id=”owned_listbox”>

    <li role=”option”>Zebra</li>

    <li role=”option” id=”selected_option”>Zoom</li>

</ul>

Complimentary info on the combobox role

The combobox role and aria-owns attribute must be set on the textbox element as per the ARIA 1.0 whereas the same combobox role and aria-owns attribute must be set on the container that is the parent of the textbox element as per the ARIA 1.1. To know more about how to set the combobox role and aria-owns in the ARIA 1.1, please look at the code snippet section of this post. Although ARIA 1.0 is obsolete, user agents, assistive technologies, and conformance checkers SHOULD continue to support the ARIA 1.0 pattern so that existing implementations of the ARIA 1.0 pattern remain functional.

References

WAI ARIA global attributes

Overview

WAI ARIA global attributes(states and properties)  are the attributes that can be defined for any host language element whether role is applied or not. Let me explain this with simple example. Aria-label(property) is the global attribute as per the specification. Since aria-label is global attribute, author can define this attribute for any host language element(such as <div>, <span>, <a>, <button>, and so on..). Apart from that, global attributes are also applicable for any base roles (such as role=”link”, role=”button” and so on..). To put it in the technical terms, global attributes inherits into any host language elements as well as any ARIA roles. The following are the list of the global states and properties’ that are applicable for any base markup and any role. This list is based on the aria 1.1 specification and this list may subject to change depending on the future versions of aria

  • aria-atomic
  • aria-busy (state)
  • aria-controls
  • aria-current (state)
  • aria-describedby
  • aria-details
  • aria-disabled (state)
  • aria-dropeffect
  • aria-errormessage
  • aria-flowto
  • aria-grabbed (state)
  • aria-haspopup
  • aria-hidden (state)
  • aria-invalid (state)
  • aria-keyshortcuts
  • aria-label
  • aria-labelledby
  • aria-live
  • aria-owns
  • aria-relevant
  • aria-roledescription

Complementary info on the aria global attributes versus presentational role

As discussed in the none role/presentational role blog post, presentational role negates the element semantics. However, there is an exception to this. The exception is that When presentational role(role=”presentation”) is defined on the element that has implicit native semantics as well as the global attributes then assistive technologies ignore the presentational role and exposes the element’s role/semantics. Let us look into this with sample code snippets.

Sample code snippet

<!—1. [Role=”presentation”] is ignored due to the global aria-haspopup property and as a result, assistive technologies expose the heading semantics. –>

<h1 role=”presentation” aria-haspopup=”true”> Sample Content </h1>

<!– 2. [Role=”presentation”] negates the both the implicit ‘heading’ and the non-global level as there are no global attributes. –>

<h1 role=”presentation” aria-level=”2″> Sample Content </h1>

References

Rules of ARIA

Overview

Before we dive into the rules of the ARIA, let me reiterate what ARIA is going to do. ARIA stands for accessible rich internet applications and it defines the way to make the web content or web applications more accessible to people with the disabilities.

Even though ARIA has evolved couple of years ago, still some of the developers misuse the usage of the ARIA due to the lack of thorough knowledge . Misusing of the ARIA results much more damage to the web page in terms of it’s accessibility. That is the reason there is saying “No ARIA is better than bad ARIA!“. Having said that, if developers understand and follow the rules of the ARIA then definitely it is going to help to certain extent in avoiding some of the mistakes. Let us understand what are those rules of the ARIA in details.

Rules of the ARIA

Rule1: don’t use ARIA, use native HTML instead

The first rule talks about use native HTML elements or attributes to convey the semantics to the people with the disabilities. In the case, the semantics that you are looking for is not available in the HTML then use ARIA. Let me explain this with the example. To construct the checkbox on a web page, use HTML checkbox(<input type=”checkbox”>) but do not use ARIA checkbox(<div role=”checkbox”>…</div>). The reason is that HTML checkbox conveys the semantics to the people with disabilities without any additional effort as it is already mapped to the accessibility APIs. Now the question is when to use ARIA. There are some scenarios where we might have to use ARIA and they are:

  • When the website is not designed from the scratch and is being retrofit for an accessibility then it is better to use ARIA in order to save time, effort,  and money
  • If it is not possible to style the native element as per need for some reason(exceptional cases)  then it is ok to construct the custom element and style as per the need and provide the semantics to the element by using ARIA
  • If the required semantics are not present in the host language(HTML 5.x) then use ARIA to communicate the semantics. For the instance, one needs to use ARIA to convey the tree semantics as there is no such equivalent HTML element or attribute.
  • When the user agent support of some of the HTML 5.x is not great then use ARIA without any second thought.

Rule2: Do not change native semantics, unless you really have to.

As discussed earlier, most of the HTML elements or attributes convey one or other semantics. We are not supposed to change the native semantics unless it is really essential. For example: Developer wants to build a heading that is  a tab

Do not do this:

<h2 role=tab>heading tab</h2>

Do this:

<div role=tab><h2>heading tab</h2></div>

Rule3: All interactive ARIA controls must be usable with the keyboard.

Providing the ARIA roles would bring the semantics to the custom control but it would never bring control to work as expected with the keyboard. We need to remember that ARIA is nothing to do with the keyboard functionality and is just to provide the semantics to the accessibility APIs. Being said, it is developer responsibility to make the custom control accessible with the keyboard by using some scripting. For example, if we construct the custom button(<div role=”button”>) then we need to  make sure that it receives the focus and user is able to activate the associated functionality by using both enter and space keys. To put it simpler, custom button should work with the keyboard as how native button works.

Rule4: Do not use role=”presentation” or aria-hidden=”true” on a focusable element

Role=”presentation” or role=”none” is to negate eh semantics from the accessibility tree and the element that has role= “none” is not supposed to be an interactive in any way. On the similar lines, Aria-hidden attribute is to hide the content or element from the accessibility APIs and the element that has aria-hidden set to true is not supposed to be an interactive in any way. Defining either of these attributes on the visible focusable elements results some users focus nothing.

Do not do this:

<button role=presentation>press me</button>

Do not do this either:

<button aria-hidden=”true”>press me</button>

<button aria-hidden=”true”>press me</button>

Do this:

<button role=”presentation” tabindex=”-1″>Don’t Click Me</button>

<button aria-hidden=”true” style=”display: none;”>don’t Click Me</button>

Rule5: All interactive elements must have an accessible name.

All interactive elements(such as links, buttons, text fields, combo boxes, radio buttons, checkboxes and so on..) on a web page must have accessible name. Without accessible name, assistive technologies do not understand what the control is all about. To provide the accessible name, there are techniques available and they vary from control to control. Let us look some of them.

  1. HTML links and buttons: whatever the link text/button value that we provide, it becomes the accessible name
  2. Input text fields: in order to provide the accessible name, form controls need to be associated with it’s visible label  either implicitly or explicitly.

    For example: The below input text field has visible label but there is no accessible name

    First name<input type=”text”>

    The below input text field have both visible label and accessible name. Accessible names establishes with the for and ID connection

    <label for=”fname”>First name</label>

    <input type=”text” id=”fname”>

  3. Custom widgets: in order to provide the accessible name for the custom widgets, authors can use either aria-label or aria-labelledby techniques

References

None role

Description

None role(role=”none”)  in aria1.1 is nothing different from presentation role(role=”presentation”) in aria1.0 and they both are one and the same. Presentation/none role to be used in order to hide the semantics to the assistive technology users. For some reason, authors/developers are getting confused with the term “presentation” as well as the intended meaning of presentation role. Many authors started thinking that both aria-hidden and presentation role are one and the same but it is not true. To put the things simpler, aria-hidden attribute is to hide the content from the assistive technology users whereas presentation role is to hide the semantics(role) from the assistive technology users. Aria-hidden attribute and presentation role are meant to serve the different purposes. In any case, let me not confuse you more about aria-hidden attribute over here and will cover aria-hidden attribute separately in the future blog posts.

To avoid all the confusions surrounded with the term “presentation”, aria1.1 introduce new role called none role. The term “none” itself conveys that element would not have any role and none is the synonym of presentation. The specification believes that the term “none” would not confuse the authors/developers any more. Till the support of none role is robust, authors are advised to use the presentation role only. When none role is applied then element semantics and any of it’s children semantics are going to be removed from the accessibility tree and this would be better understood in the coming sections. However, the content and the descendants elements are going to remain the same in the accessibility tree

The major difference between all other aria roles and the none role is that all other aria roles are used to convey the semantics whereas none role is to not to convey the semantics. The intended use is when an element is used to change the look of the page but does not have all the functional, interactive, or structural relevance implied by the element type. You might be wondering in which situations we might have to use none role. There are certain scenarios where reading the semantics to the screen reader users would create the problem in understanding the page structure. In addition, reading the semantics that are for layout purposes would result too verbose for the screen reader users to understand the things properly on the page. Let us discuss some of those  scenarios

Scenarios to use role=”none”

  1. There is text with heading mark-up but this text is not heading visually, logically, and functionally on the page. Having heading mark-up to that text would create a problem in understanding the page structure to the screen reader users. Authors need to remove heading mark-up. In order to remove the heading mark-up, authors either can remove heading tag from the DOM or  can use role=”none”
  2. There is image that is used for the decorative purpose. Screen readers must ignore the decorative images. For the screen readers to ignore the decorative images, authors either need to set alt as null(alt=””) or use role=”none”
  3. There is content with table mark-up but this table is for the layout purpose. Having table mark-up for that content would cause confusion to the screen reader users. Authors need to remove table mark-up. In order to remove the table mark-up, authors either can remove table tag and it’s children from the DOM or  can use role=”none”. The important point to remember here is that table semantics and it’s children semantics(such as <th>, <tbody>, <tr>, <td> and so on..) are going to be removed from the accessibility tree when role=”none” is applied.

Author notes

  • Authors must not use role=”none” on the interactive or focusable elements
  • Authors must not use role=”none” on the element that has the WAI ARIA global attributes(ex: aria-haspopup). If authors do so then user agents ignore the presence of the role=”none”
  • Authors can also set role as “none presentation” for backward compatibility

Sample code snippet

If given

<ul role=”none”>

  <li> Sample Content </li>

  <li> More Sample Content </li>

</ul>

Then assistive technologies like screen reader would not announce the list semantics

References

My AHG2018 experience

What the heck is AHG conference all about?

Early this year, I spoke in the CSUN international conference. Later this year, I got another opportunity to speak in the international conference, and it was accessing higher ground conference. The Short form of accessing higher ground is AHG. AHG focuses on the implementation and benefits of: accessible media, Inclusive Design, accessible curriculum, and Assistive Technology in the university, business and public setting, read more about AHG here. AHG takes places every year and this year(2018) conference has taken place from 12th November to 16th November at Westin, Westminster Colorado, USA. The first 2 days of the conference usually go with some workshops/trainings and the next 3 days of the conference usually go with some technical sessions.

A little about how did my session go

I have travelled all the way from India for this conference to present the ARIA 1.1 topic and my topic name was WAI ARIA 1.1: an in depth view into new and shiny. First of all, I want to thank my employer(Deque) for giving such a wonderful opportunity.  As per the schedule, I spoke on my topic on 15th November at 8am. Although few technical glitches at the beginning, the session went well but there were less number of participants. Even though participants were less, there were more number of questions at the end, and I am glad I could answer most of the queries! In fact, there were healthy debates too!

 

what did I learn?

In my view, attending the conference is kind of mutual benefit for the both parties and it is beauty of the conference! We get the opportunity to learn what others are talking, and we also get the opportunity to share our knowledge with the big crowd. With that said, lot of educational institutions such as universities and colleges participated in this conference. Of course, few non-education institutions also participated here.  People in the conference were talking on the various topics such as document accessibility, multimedia accessibility, web accessibility, classroom accessibility, math accessibility, building the accessible course/curriculum/educational material, EPUB adoptions, software accessibility like Zoom, MS word, MS power point, UDL adoptions, , different assistive technologies, and so on. I heard more on document accessibility though as this conference was more of educational related platform.

As mentioned earlier, 3 days of the conference usually go with lot of technical sessions. I have looked at 3 days schedule and chosen some of the sessions to attend. I attended the sessions that were relevant to web accessibility and the sessions that could help me to become independent at my work.  Below are some of the sessions that I attended along with my learnings

Session name: Making Websites Usable, Not Just Accessible

 

This session was presented by Karen Hawkins, Senior Experience Designer, Publicis.Sapient. it went for 2 hours long. The interesting thing in this session was that she explained how the end user pain would be while browsing the ecommerce website although it was accessible site. She highlighted possible usability issues such as clumsy filters, not notifying the changes to the screen reader users, and so on.. in the ecommerce website. She highlighted the usability issues starting from product landing page till placing the order. At the end, she mentioned that they would be releasing accessible and usable ecommerce templet in the mid of the next year. They said that this new templet would help everyone who would like to make their ecommerce website accessible and usable and that was very exciting thing! Looking forward to see the great ecommerce templet from these people!

 

Session name: How to CADET: free caption and audio description authoring software from WGBH’s NCAM

 

This session was presented by Bryan Gould, Director , WGBH/NCAM. He explained how easy to add/edit  the captions and audio descriptions scripts with the help of their CADET  tool. CADET  tool  is free and downloadable software. In addition, they said that the interface of this tool would be very much accessible unlike other tools in the market.

 

Session name: What is VPAT® 2.0?

This session was presented by Joe Humbert, Senior Accessibility Analyst, Interactive Accessibility. The funny thing was, by the time this session was scheduled, VPAT 2.2 had been released too! He mentioned about that fact at the beginning of his session. He highlighted the one of the major changes from VPAT 2.0 to VPAT 2.2 was that there would not be “supports with exceptions” status in 2.2 and it got changed to “partially supports”. He explained majorly the difference between from 1.0 to 2.0 in this session. At the end, when he opened for the questions then we all of us were asking when WCAG2.1 would be incorporated in the VPAT. Immediately, we got the response from the women who sat behind and introducing herself that “I am from ITI and works for the VPAT”. Everybody got shocked and surprised! She responded that they started working on incorporating the WCAG2.1 in the VPAT and would release the next version in few months. By the way, ITI is the organization who develops the VPAT. Anyways, I have got opportunity to meet such a great person with the help of this session.

A quick tour on the booths/exhibitors

As like any other conferences, there were number of booths in this conference too. I think there were more than 30 booths here. As usual, all the booths were showcasing about their products and services. While I was visiting this booths, I found some interesting stuff. One of the interesting things was that many organizations were working in the PDF remediation space. In fact, some of the organizations(such as Onix-equidox, Appligent Document Solutions, Commonlook, Crawford Technologies, Pubcom, and so on..) developed their own PDF remediation tools too. I felt that Equidox PDF remediation tool by Onix was bit interesting with the advanced features that has! Apart from that, I have got opportunity to look at the other web accessibility tools such as Compliance Sheriff by a Cyxtera solution,  Blackboard Ally, Dinolytics, and so on.. overall, I felt worth time spending on this booths.

 

 

 How did I feel about the conference as a whole?

I felt that conference was very cool going. I like the way the technical sessions on those 3 days were scheduled. There were No back to back technical sessions and we used to have some breakout meetings once in every 2 hours. Breakout meetings/sessions such as round table and lunch breakouts were the another thing I wanted to highlight. These breakout sessions gave an opportunity to meet and talk to the various people and that was fantastic! Another cool thing was that audiences got an opportunity to rate the sessions that they attended. In fact, my session was rated 4.1 stars average rating out of 5 stars and I was very happy for that!

 

Oh, wait! I know your next question

Probably, your next question is going to be where I can access and download all these great AHG presentations. Here are the simple steps to download any AHG presentation

  1. Open AHG schedule
  2. It shows Wednesday schedule by default. You can view Thursday and Friday schedules by clicking on the corresponding links on the same web page
  3. Choose any topic that is relevant for you and activate the link
  4. It opens the session information with summary, speakers, abstract, handouts, and so on..
  5. Navigate to the handout section and activate the link
  6. That is all and presentation/ppt/deck/PDF  is going to be downloaded for that topic

Thank you and will be back again!