aria-colspan(property)

As you may be aware of, making the simple tables accessible is much easier than making the complex tables accessible. In my view, there is no problem with the complex tables as long as they are accessible to the assistive technology users. Usually, complex tables would have multi-level column headers/row headers and it is one type of variety but there are many more verities within this complex tables. We are not going to discuss all the varieties of the complex table rather will discuss the multi-level column headers in this post. Let us understand what is multi-level column headers all about. Usually, we see the pattern like one single column header for all the data cells that are present in that particular column and basically it is called as simple data table. In case of complex table with multi-level column headers, each data cell with respect to the that particular column may have more than one single column header. To put it simpler, a column header would have sub column headers in the complex table with multi-level column headers. To understand which is main column header and which is sub column header visually, authors need to group the related column headers technically(like all the sub column headers need to be grouped with the corresponding main column header by merging the cells with the help of CSS paddings and HTML col span techniques. When they do so, it is semantical to both sighted and assistive technology users that how many cells are spanned or so. Since the context that I have made so far is all about native data table, the semantical information is conveyed to the assistive technology users. However, the information about how many columns are spanned would not be conveyed to the assistive technology users if it is custom table as custom table is built with <div> and <span> tags and with other CSS properties and it is a problem.

In order to address this problem, aria1.1 introduced new brand attribute and it is aria-colspan. Aria-colspan defines the number of columns spanned by a cell or gridcell. When aria-colspan is defined for the cells in the custom table, assistive technologies like screen reader are expected to understand how many columns are spanned and are expected to convey the same information to the users. The information about how many columns are spanned in the table enables the screen reader users to visualize the table structure very clearly than ever before. as I have explained this concept with the spanning of column headers, it does not mean that spanning the columns is not limited to column headers. Author can span any columns by using aria-colspan attribute based on the requirement.

 

 

Author notes

 

  • Author must use this attribute on the below roles only
    • Cell
    • Gridcell
    • Column header
    • Row header
  • Authors MUST set the value of aria-colspan to an integer
    • greater than or equal to 1
    • less than value that prevents overlapping of other cells in the same row. In simple terms, if author wants to span 3 columns then the value of aria-colspan must be set to 3 only but not to 4 or 5 or so.

 

Notes for assistive technology venders

  • Assistive technologies should not expose the value of aria-colspan for an element if equivalent host language attribute is provided rather assistive technologies should expose the value of the host language’s attribute.

 

 

 

Sample code snippet

if given

<div role=”table”>

<div role=”row”>

<div id=”sd” role=”cell” aria-colspan=”2″>country</div>

</div>

</div>

then expose aria-colspan=”2″ on the element with id=”sd”

 

References

 

Menu, menubar, , and menuitem roles

Since the modern websites are rich in the look wise, it is important to provide the same rich experience to the assistive technology users too. Unfortunately, there are no HTML semantics for the few of the rich controls such as menu, menubar, tab, tree and so on..  usually, authors bring such rich visual look by using CSS design patterns. Let me talk more on menus and menubar in this post. Since there are no HtML semantics for menus and menubar, authors may have to use CSS for the either anchor element or custom container to get the visual appearance of the menu or menubar. When they do so then control might be visually appearing as menu or menubar but assistive technologies do not interpret the same. When assistive technologies do not interpret the way how sighted person perceives the control then it is high chance that assistive technology users would not be aware of the complete functionality of the control. For example, if menu is announced as link by screen reader then it is not the identical experience to the screen reader users. in addition, menu and link might not have the same functionality. In order to provide the semantics for such rich controls, aria introduced menu, menubar, and menuitem roles.

 

Menu role

When we go to restaurant then what is the first thing that we look for. Obviously, we look for the menu. What does it contain? Usually, menu contains the list of the choices that we need to have for the food. On the similar lines, aria menu role is nothing but A type of widget that offers a list of choices to the user. A menu is often a list of common actions or functions that the user can invoke. One thing that we need to remember here is that those list of the options are displayed only when user invokes the menu widget but those list of the options are not visible by default.

The menu role(role=”menu”) is appropriate when a list of menu items is presented in a manner similar to a menu on a desktop application. In aria1.1, aria-orientation=”vertical”  has been added as The default implicit value for menu role. The child or required own elements for menu role are menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio.

Menubar role

Menubar role is also kind of the similar concept as menu role. When the list of the choices/options are visually persistent then it is called as menubar. In a simple words, the list of choices are always visible on the screen by default then that complete bar is called as menubar. Most of the people would think that menu is the child of menubar but it is not true. Even though, The menu and menubar are at the same level from the hierarchy wise but they are different in nature. Let me tell you the difference clearly. The list of the choices are displayed when user invokes menu widget for the menu whereas the list of the choices are always visible on the screen by default for the menubar. That is difference between both of them. The child or required own elements roles for the menu and menubar are same and they are menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio.

The menubar role(role=”menubar”) is used to create a menu bar similar to those found in Windows, Mac, and Gnome desktop applications. A menu bar is used to create a consistent set of frequently used commands. Authors should ensure that menubar interaction is similar to the typical menu bar interaction in a desktop graphical user interface. In aria1.1, aria-orientation=”horizontal”  has been added as The default implicit value for menubar role and Menubar is usually presented horizontally.

Menuitem role

Menuitem is nothing but An option in a set of choices contained by a menu or menubar. A Menuitem(role=”menuitem”)  may or may not contain sub menu. If the menu item has its aria-haspopup attribute set to true, it indicates that the menu item may be used to launch a sub-level menu, and authors SHOULD display a new sub-level menu when the menu item is activated. Authors MUST ensure that menu items are owned by an element with role menu or menubar in order to identify that they are related widgets. Authors MAY disable a menu item with the aria-disabled attribute.

Sample code snippet

<ul role=”menubar” id=”appmenu”>

<li role=”menuitem” aria-haspopup=”true”>

Edit

<ul role=”menu”>

<li role=”menuitem”>Undo</li>

<li role=”menuitem”>Redo</li>

<li role=”separator”></li>

<li role=”menuitem”>Cut</li>

<li role=”menuitem”>Copy</li>

<li role=”menuitem”>Paste</li>

</ul>

</li>

</ul>

 

References

 

aria-modal(property)

First of all, Let us understand What is a modal. Modal is something that interrupts your current work flow on your main page and usually, user navigation is limited within the modal element itself. In other words, users cannot access the background content when modal is displayed. Even though visually the background content is inert/grade out, it is high chance that screen reader users can access the background content, which is a problem.

To address this problem, what we have been doing is that we use aria-hidden=”true” attribute to hide the background content from the screen reader users. When modal is closed, we flip the aria-hidden value from true to false, so that screen reader users can access the content when they are returned to the actual web page. These are the techniques that we have been following to hide/unhide the background content from the screen reader users.

Aria 1.1 introduced the aria-modal attribute to hide the background content directly instead of using aria-hidden attribute. Authors should use aria-modal attribute in conjunction with dialog/alertdialog role. When aria-modal is set to true in the dialog/alertdialog container then the expectation is that:

  1. Assistive technologies do not expose the background content
  2. User navigation is limited to the modal elements itself
  3. Assistive technology should place the focus on the modal element when it is displayed unless the focus has explicitly been placed else where

all these things are being taken care automatically when aria-modal=”true” is used. Imagine’, how cool it is. Hence,  we don’t need to use aria-hidden attribute any more.

Author notes

  • Author should use aria-modal attribute in conjunction with dialog/alertdialog role.
  • When a modal element is displayed, authors MUST ensure the interface can be controlled using only descendants of the modal element. In other words, if a modal dialog has a close button, the button should be a descendant of the dialog.

Sample code snippet

if given

<body>

<h1 id=”Test2″>Modal Dialog Box Test</h1>

<div role=”dialog” aria-modal=”true” id=”test”>

<input type=”button” value=”ok”/>

</div>

</body>

then the element with role=”dialog” and id=”test” exposes aria-modal=”true”

 

 

References

 

 

Cell Role

When It is not possible to construct the tabular content by using HTML <table> tag for any reason then they are called as custom tables. On the similar lines, when we cannot use the HTML <table> tag then it is obvious that descendants of the HTML table cannot be used. When I say descendants then what does it mean with respect to the HTML <table> tag. The descendants of HTML <table> tag could be <td>, <th> <tr>, <tbody>, <tfooter>, <thead> and so on.. in other words, authors cannot use all the mentioned descendants unless HTML <table> tag is being used to construct the tabular content. Each descendant conveys some or other semantical information to the assistive technology users. Let me talk more about <t> descendant. <td> tag conveys the semantical information to the assistive technology users that it is a cell. Unfortunately, custom tables are constructed with <div> and <span> tags. Divs and spans do not convey the any semantical information to the assistive technology users and this is a problem.

In order to address this problem, aria 1.1 introduced table and cell roles. To provide the semantics to the custom table, author must provide Table role to the entire container. Similarly, to provide the cell semantics in the custom table, author must provide cell role. Cell role is related to gridcell and It is equivalent of HTML <td>. All the context that I made about the tables is related to the static tables but not related to interactive tables. To be very clear and precise, cell role must be used only for static tables that are having table role.

 

Author notes

 

  • Authors MUST ensure elements with role cell are contained in, or owned by, an element with the role row.

 

Code snippet

<div id=”foo” role=”table” aria-colcount=”8″>

<div role=”row”>

<span id=”test” role=”cell” aria-colindex=”4″ >test cell</span>

</div>

</div>

References

 

 

 

Searchbox role

Did you see any website without search form field? Almost every website usually has this search form field. The purpose of having this search form field on the website is to search as per user need and navigate to the respective sections quickly  instead of browsing the entire website. Imagine, this search form field is not constructed with html input type search and is constructed with the custom controls then this search form control might not be accessible to assistive technology users. if this search form control cannot be constructed with html input type search for some reason then we are left with the option of using new aria1.1 searchbox role to make this custom control accessible.

Aria1.1 Searchbox role can be used for the type of textbox intended for specifying search criteria . When searchbox role is applied to container then screen readers are expected to announce as “search edit type and text” or something like that. Search role and searchbox role are different from each other and they are not identical/same. To be precise, The role=”searchbox” must be provided for focusable element whereas role=”search” is the landmark that includes focusable active elements. On the similar lines, textbox role and searchbox role are different from each other and they are not same/identical. Searchbox role is equivalent of the html <input type=”search” element.

Author notes

  • Author must set the accessible name when searchbox role is used

 

 

Code snippet

 

<div id=’test’ role=’searchbox’ contenteditable=’true’></div>

 

References