W3C's Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 Expands Accessibility of the Open Web Platform

Author(s) and publish date




http://www.w3.org/ — 20 March 2014 — Today the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) took an important step to make web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities by publishing Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation. WAI-ARIA defines ways that developers of browsers, media players, mobile devices and assistive technologies, as well as content developers, can achieve greater cross-platform accessibility. WAI-ARIA is introduced in the WAI-ARIA Overview.

"ARIA is general tool which can be used to add accessibility to many different technologies," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "It is used by HTML 5 now and is being built into additional W3C specifications. In the dynamic and interactive world of the web today, it essential to describe to accessibility software what the different parts of a web page do, so that users with disabilities can use them effectively."

WAI-ARIA helps close the gap between the advanced capabilities of the Open Web Platform and technologies available for implementing accessibility requirements. Web developers increasingly create user interface controls that allow users to get new Web content without requesting a full page refresh. WAI-ARIA supports interoperability between browsers and assistive technologies when using interactive features such as expandable menus and drag-and-drop features on websites. This provides key support for conforming with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, the international standard for accessibility of websites and applications.

Cross-platform and cross-device accessibility solution

"As we celebrate the Web's 25th anniversary, enabling usable, accessible rich Internet applications through a growing array of mobile devices, from smartphones to automotive is vital," said Rod Smith, IBM VP of Emerging Software Technologies. "When IBM introduced this technology to W3C our goal was to ensure a more inclusive rich web. WAI-ARIA sets this precedent by lowering barriers for people with disabilities universally across devices."

WAI-ARIA brings the accessibility features of desktop applications to the Web. In a desktop environment, people who use specialized assistive technologies to help operate their computers must rely on accessibility application programming interfaces (APIs) specific to each operating system. WAI-ARIA makes that same type of information directly available to web applications.

As part of today's announcement, W3C also published the WAI-ARIA 1.0 User Agent Implementation Guide, which maps WAI-ARIA to accessibility-supporting features on different platforms, indicating how web browsers, media players and mobile applications can benefit from those features. Content authors who use WAI-ARIA can now more easily re-purpose the same web content across different platforms, without loss of accessibility support.

Implementation Progress

Implementation testing during the W3C standards development process showed extensive implementation in several major browsers; details are available in the implementation report.

"We saw major progress in quality and comprehensiveness of ARIA implementations in browsers, media players and mobile devices during the Candidate Recommendation phase of ARIA development, and look forward to broader implementations now that the standard has been finalized," said Janina Sajka, Chair of the Protocols and Formats Working Group. "ARIA provides web developers an overlay technology suitable for delivering stable accessibility support on modern web apps, as well as for rapid remediation of accessibility issues on older web content."

Why W3C

Twenty years ago, web inventor Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) as a forum to steward the development of open technology standards ensuring the long-term growth of the Web. W3C is vendor neutral in its approach and maintains a royalty-free patent policy. W3C activities are conducted openly and are transparent to the public. In addition, all W3C standards are available free of charge to encourage quick industry adoption. Together, the community is rebuilding the Web into an Open Web Platform for the delivery of services and rich applications across a broad set of industries, including mobile, payments, television, publishing, and transportation.

About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. The Open Web Platform is a current major focus. Over 375 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan, and Beihang University in China, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/

About the Web Accessibility Initiative

W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) works with organizations around the world to make the Web more accessible for people with disabilities and older users. WAI pursues accessibility of the Web by ensuring that Web technologies support accessibility; developing guidelines for web content, browsers and media players, and authoring tools; developing resources to support improved evaluation tools; developing resources for education and outreach; and coordinating with research and development efforts that can affect future accessibility of the Web. WAI is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the European Commission's Information Society Technologies Programme, Adobe Systems, Deque Systems, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. For more information see http://www.w3.org/WAI/

Media Contact

Ian Jacobs, <w3t-pr@w3.org>, +1.718 260 9447



Adobe applauds the release of WAI-ARIA 1.0.  This important specification enables improved support for accessibility in web content for people with disabilities.  WAI-ARIA enables developers to convey critical information such as object role and state for custom controls, provides additional avenues for the repair of web content authored without adequate attention to accessibility, and offers promise for greater accessibility in rich interactive content provided using SVG or Canvas.  Adobe already makes use of WAI-ARIA in multiple products, supports the development of WAI-ARIA support in the open-source NVDA screen reader, and will continue to work to help make the web more accessible with WAI-ARIA.

Andrew Kirkpatrick, Accessibility Group Product Manager, Adobe Systems

American Foundation for the Blind

The Web Accessibility Initiative has once again taken a critical step to help ensure that the power and benefit of the Internet becomes available to people with vision loss and other disabilities. The adoption of the ARIA recommendation will provide website developers with tools and guidance to ensure that Web-based software and functionality can be used with a variety of specialized assistive technology. As a provider of significant Web content ourselves, AFB relies on WCAG and the work of WAI.

Paul Schroeder, VP for Programs and Policy, American Foundation for the Blind


With rich interactions on the web becoming the norm, WAI-ARIA 1.0 is the right step towards ensuring that people with disabilities have access to a wide range of applications. BarrierBreak is proud and excited to see WAI-ARIA as W3C Recommendations, since we can now promote the use of accessible rich internet applications. We are looking forward to working towards implementing this in indisutry and seeing its impact in the lives of people with disabilities around the globe.

Shilpi Kapoor, Director, BarrierBreak


Benetech welcomes the release of the WAI-ARIA specification, which is a significant step toward the future of accessible educational materials in an increasingly online and interactive environment.  We expect to leverage this specification in digital books delivered through our Bookshare service, to hundreds of thousands of users worldwide, as well as through our DIAGRAM Center work on the accessibility of visual content.

Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of the Global Literacy Program, Benetech


Comcast applauds the release of the W3C ARIA guidelines to advance usability of dynamic web interfaces by people with disabilities. ARIA provides Comcast with the necessary flexibility to achieve desired functionality and deliver an accessible user experience for our customers.

Thomas Wlodkowski, VP, Comcast Accessibility


WAI-ARIA brings accessibility to user interfaces for web applications. Given the current trend of using web applications instead of desktop applications, this new Recommendation reinforces the commitment of W3C and the community in its goal of enabling universal access to the Web. In our consulting activity, we already recommend the use of WAI-ARIA to enhance web accessibility. The confirmation of WAI-ARIA as a W3C standard is an incentive for us to continue proposing solutions based on it.

Pablo Priesca, CEO, CTIC Foundation


As the first non-military Internet site in Europe, CWI has always striven to be at the forefront of Internet technology. One of the important properties of the Web is that it be accessible to all, and therefore a technology such as WAI-ARIA is of essential importance. CWI is happy to have contributed to WAI-ARIA by being involved, in the person of Steven Pemberton, with the orginal specification of the role module that led to WAI-ARIA's creation.

Jos Baeten, General Director, CWI

Deque Systems Inc

WAI-ARIA is a W3C standard that Deque supports wholeheartedly. I look forward to wide support by browser and assistive technology manufacturers, to make the lives of our customers easier and our mission of digital equality one step closer.

Preety Kumar, CEO, Deque Systems Inc


We are pleased that WAI-ARIA 1.0 has become a W3C Recommendation.  At Educational Testing Service, we recognize the importance of ARIA in enabling the accessibility of rich interactive content.  The ARIA recommendation is another significant milestone in the efforts of W3C and the Web Accessibility Initiative in ensuring that the Web is truly for everyone.

Mark Hakkinen, Research Scientist, Educational Testing Service

Fondazione ASPHI Onlus

ASPHI, a non-profit organization working as an accessibility evaluator in the Italian market, is welcoming the availability of WAI-ARIA as W3C Recommendation. It will be useful for persons with disabilities, making new applications more accessible and usable and allowing the implementation of cross-platform and cross-device (including mobile) Rich Internet Applications. WAI-ARIA, like other W3C Recommendations, will become once more the reference for the community involved in the Web accessibility. We’ll make use of WAI-ARIA in our activities on accessibility.

Ennio Paiella, Fondazione ASPHI Onlus


The publication by the W3C of its latest recommendation for Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 represents an essential complement to WCAG 2.0 for the Open Web Platform : it will allow for a much greater accessibility of the interactive features of web sites and provide the foundation for universal access across multiple platforms, mobile in particular. A much needed step to be celebrated by all professionals and advocates involved in web accessibility.

Axel Leblois, President & Executive Director, G3ICT


The W3C WAI-ARIA 1.0 expands the accessibility of the Open Web Platform, and dispels the misconception that accessibility is boring by enabling flashy, modern websites to be more accessible.   WAI-ARIA 1.0 will be instrumental in helping HP continue our commitment to making technology and information easier to access and simpler to use. 

Glenn Meyer, Director, Accessibility & Aging Program Office, HP


IBM would like to join with our W3C WAI colleagues in congratulating the W3C community on the delivery of the WAI-ARIA standard making it essential in meeting WCAG2-based government accessibility requirements. When IBM introduced this technology to W3C, our vision was to deliver usable, accessible rich Internet applications through the browser on any platform. It has been a pleasure to work with the W3C community to enhance WAI-ARIA and see it integrated into HTML5 and SVG2. IBM uses WAI-ARIA in hundreds of products and services, and look forward to advancing open Web accessibility, regardless of device or application.

Rich Schwerdtfeger, CTO Accessibility, IBM Software


As web professional association we are really happy to have this new W3C Rec that give to our members availability of more accessible solutions for web
apps development. WAI-ARIA is a great evolution for accessibility problem solving with world wide web user interfaces that can really help to have a real web accessibility for all. After WCAG 2.0 this is the main great innovation in the web accessibility activities, and we will see it with a great opportunity for web application developers for increase their competence and their application's audience.

Roberto Scano, International Project Manager, IWA/HWG


Microsoft has made a significant investment in ARIA.  We use it extensively to make Windows Store apps, Office Online, and many other online apps and services accessible.  We would not be able to offer this kind of interactive accessibility without it and look forward to continued adoption and innovation with ARIA 2.0 and beyond.

Rob Sinclair, Chief Accessibility Officer, Microsoft


NCBI - Working for People With Sight Loss welcomes the final release of Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 as a Technical Recommendation. NCBI acknowledges the positive work that the Web Accessibility Initiative have been doing to develop sophisticated mark up languages that can result in a rich accessible user experience for people who are blind and vision impaired, as well as people with other disabilities, when using the web.

Mark Magennis, Director of NCBI Centre for Inclusive Technology


Chinese: WAI-ARIA可以让你的网站变得对辅助技术更加友好,它提供了丰富的角色、属性和状态。这些接口可以帮助残障人士使用辅助技术更加容易的通过你 的网站获取信息,并与之交互。腾讯一直关注着ARIA,并在QQ空间和腾讯网中尝试应用,它让我们或得了更多残障用户的认可。很高兴它将成为一个标准,我 们会更加广泛和深入的使用。

English: WAI-ARIA can make your web become more friendly to assistive technologies. It provides rich functions of role, property and state. These application programming interfaces (APIs) can help people with disabilities get information and easily interact with widgets in your web applications. Tencent pays constant attention to
ARIA, and we are already using WAI-ARIA in our Qzone and QQ portals. We're glad to see ARIA become a Recommendation, and will apply this technology in our products more widely.

Stone Huang, Technical Director of Qzone, Tencent


WAI-ARIA enables TPG to help organisations deliver modern web functionality without compromising on Accessible User Experience (AUX). We're delighted to have contributed to the development of WAI-ARIA 1.0, and welcome its publication as a W3C recommendation.

Léonie Watson, Senior Accessibility Engineer, The Paciello Group (TPG).

Trace R&D Center

WAI-ARIA is one of those rare breakthrough technologies in the Access world. It provides new and more powerful ways of making dynamic, interactive web pages accessible and able to meet WCAG 2.0, at a time when we are seeing continually increasing use of rich interactive content.

Gregg Vanderheiden, Director, Trace R&D Center


WAI-ARIA helps make Web applications more usable by the assistive technologies even in the case of dynamic and interactive content. In fact, WAI-Aria allows the effective communication between the application and the assistive technology as regards to events and information necessary to properly interpret what is happening at the user interface level. Thanks to WAI-ARIA we hope that Web applications can be made more easily accessible via any desktop and mobile platform since the first release.

Barbara Leporini, Regional President, Italian Association of Blind and Low Vision People (Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti)


Russian: Яндекс рад приветствовать первую рекомендацию W3C ARIA и надеется, что в будущем ARIA станет серией рекомендаций. Технология, которая поддерживает право на всеобщий доступ к веб-сервисам, важна для создания сильного и устойчивого общества, граждане которого получат возможность улучшить свою жизнь с помощью интернета.
Мы уже используем ARIA, чтобы сделать наши сервисы более доступными для людей с ограниченными возможностями, которые рассчитывают на технологии, помогающие решать ежедневные задачи. Важности ARIA будет расти по мере развития ее технической реализации. В свою очередь, мы будем улучшать качество доступа к нашим сервисам для всех без исключения пользователей.

English: Yandex is pleased to welcome the first of what it hopes is a series of ARIA recommendations from W3C. Technology that supports the right to universal access is important to build a strong sustainable society which allows citizens to make the best possible choices about their lives.
We already use ARIA to make our services more accessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technologies. We expect it to be increasingly important as the technology is improved and as we continue to improve in providing truly universal access to the services our users need and want.

'Chaals' McCathie Nevile, CTO group, Yandex

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