New resources on making Ajax and related technologies accessible

Dateline Monday 4 February 2008: WAI publishes new WAI-ARIA documents for developers, and new overview material for everyone.

For the last two years or so, the W3C Web Accessibility (WAI) has been working on technical specifications to support making rich Web applications and sites designed with Ajax (also known as AJAX) and related technologies accessible to people with disabilities. The work has focused on defining technologies to map controls, Ajax live regions, and events to accessibility APIs, including custom controls; as well as describing new navigation techniques by marking common Web structures as menus, primary content, secondary content, banner information and other types of Web structures.

A particularly exciting aspect of this "WAI-ARIA" (Accessible Rich Internet Application Suite) work has been its early implementation in browsers and screen readers. Yet until now there hasn’t been much guidance for web content developers/authors on what to do with WAI-ARIA (because the Working Group was focusing first on the specification).

Today WAI published documents that help Web content developers know how to use WAI-ARIA to develop accessible rich Web applications, including WAI-ARIA Primer and WAI-ARIA Best Practices. We also posted a WAI-ARIA FAQ that answers questions such as "As a Web developer, what should I do with WAI-ARIA now?" We welcome input on these documents.

Development of WAI-ARIA continues at a relatively fast pace, and "Last Call" Working Drafts could be published in the next few months. Now is the time for your input. In fact, the Working Group is meeting face-to-face the week of 18 February to address open issues and any new comments.

For links to and more details on these new documents, see the Call for Review: New WAI-ARIA Documents announcement e-mail and the WAI-ARIA Overview. Please let us know how these new resources work for you and how we can improve them.