Using a WAI-ARIA role to expose the role of a user interface component

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.1 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.1.

Applicability

Technologies that support Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA).

This technique relates to Success Criterion 4.1.2: Name, Role, Value (Sufficient as a way to meet G10: Creating components using a technology that supports the accessibility notification of changes).

Description

The objective of this technique is to define the role of an element using the role attribute with one of the non-abstract values defined in the WAI-ARIA Definition of Roles. The WAI-ARIA specification provides an informative description of each role, how it relates to other roles, and the states and properties for each role. When rich internet applications define new user interface widgets, exposing the roles enables users to understand the widget and how to interact with it.

Examples

Example 1: A simple toolbar

The WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices document demonstrates a toolbar containing three buttons. The div element has a role of "toolbar", and the img elements have "button" roles:

    <div role="toolbar"
      tabindex="0" 
      id="customToolbar" 
      onkeydown="return optionKeyEvent(event);"
      onkeypress="return optionKeyEvent(event);"
      onclick="return optionClickEvent(event);"
      onblur="hideFocus()"
      onfocus="showFocus()"
      > 
      <img src="img/btn1.gif" 
           role="button" 
           tabindex="-1" 
           alt="Home" 
           id="b1" 
           title="Home">
      <img src="img/btn2.gif" 
           role="button" 
           tabindex="-1" 
           alt="Refresh" 
           id="b2" 
           title="Refresh">
     <img src="img/btn3.gif" 
           role="button" 
           tabindex="-1" 
           alt="Help" 
           id="b3" 
           title="Help"> 
 </div>  
                        

The Authoring Practices Toolbar Pattern provides a working example of a toolbar..

Example 2: A Tree Widget

The WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices demonstrates a tree widget. Note the use of the roles "tree", "treeitem", and "group" to identify the tree and its structure. Here is a simplified excerpt from the code:

<ul role="tree" tabindex="0">
  <li role="treeitem">Birds</li>
  <li role="treeitem">Cats
    <ul role="group">
      <li role="treeitem">Siamese</li>
      <li role="treeitem">Tabby</li>
    </ul>
  </li>
  <li role="treeitem">Dogs
    <ul role="group">
      <li role="treeitem">Small Breeds
        <ul role="group">
          <li role="treeitem">Chihuahua</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Italian Greyhound</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Japanese Chin</li>
        </ul>
      </li>
      <li role="treeitem">Medium Breeds
        <ul role="group">
          <li role="treeitem">Beagle</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Cocker Spaniel</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Pit Bull</li>
        </ul>
      </li>
      <li role="treeitem">Large Breeds
        <ul role="group">
          <li role="treeitem">Afghan</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Great Dane</li>
          <li role="treeitem">Mastiff</li>
        </ul>
      </li>
    </ul>
  </li>
</ul>

The Authoring Practices Tree View Pattern provides a working example of a tree.

Resources

Resources are for information purposes only, no endorsement implied.

Tests

Procedure

For a user interface component using the role attribute:

  1. Check that the value of the role attribute is one of the non-abstract roles from the values defined in the WAI-ARIA specification.
  2. Check that the characteristics of the user interface component are described by the role.

Expected Results

  • #1 and #2 are true.