Accessible Rich Internet Applications 1.2 suite published

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The Accessible Rich Internet Applications Working Group has just published First Public Working Drafts of Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.2, Core Accessibility API Mappings (Core-AAM) 1.2, and WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices 1.2, which begins development of the ARIA 1.2 suite of specifications. The group also published an update of WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices 1.1 to improve its support for ARIA 1.1.

ARIA 1.2 continues iterative refinement of Accessible Rich Internet Applications. Beginning with these publications, the Working Group is implementing a workflow that requires new ARIA features to be supported with accessibility API mappings, test cases, and authoring guidance. Each feature is therefore represented in all three specifications and published at the same time, supported by test cases. While this workflow means there are more steps required up front to include a given feature in drafts, the features are better matured and less likely to encounter unexpected problems later in the specification development process. Reviewers can see the full implication of new features by reviewing companion documents that are kept up to date. This predictability will allow the Working Group to maintain ARIA updates on a more regular basis, and the group plans to release ARIA updates annually.

The focus of ARIA 1.2 is to create roles that correspond to features of HTML 5. Beyond helping to ensure that the mappings of ARIA and HTML features to accessibility APIs are more complete and harmonized, this will support other technologies developing similar feature sets and needing to expose them to accessibility APIs via the ARIA technology. At this time, Web Components and Accessibility Object Model are known consumers of this. These technologies will benefit from the features added to ARIA 1.2 via the ability to reflect an enhanced set of semantics to accessibility APIs.

ARIA 1.2 is a step in a broader roadmap established by the Working Group. Future versions will explore states and properties to correspond to HTML features and potentially to other languages. Eventually, a more major update would address substantial enhancements like control patterns and two-way interaction via accessibility APIs.

The success of ARIA is dependent on review and implementation. The Working Group plans to complete feature development of ARIA 1.2 approximately a year from now. All features will require documentation of interoperable implementation to be retained in the final version of the specification, which is scheduled for the end of 2019. See the ARIA contribution page for information on ways to submit input to the various documents.

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