Re: accessible ajax

  • From: Aaron Leventhal <aaronlev@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:36:30 -0400

Hi Sina,

ARIA widgets work reasonably pretty well with JAWS in Firefox already, and it will continue to improve. That's because we just expose ARIA controls as MSAA. JAWS doesn't actually know whether the control is a regular HTML widget or an ARIA widget -- they see the same thing in MSAA.

Yes, the majority of blind users use IE. I cannot speak about the business commitments of Microsoft and Freedom Scientific, but I can say a few things:
- IBM is commited to making this work in Firefox + JAWS.
- Mozilla is committed to making ARIA work in Firefox with open source ATs. Working is ongoing with the Orca team, for example, under a Mozilla Foundation grant - Microsoft is an active participant on the working group designing ARIA. While it's possible to make ARIA work in IE via the DOM, the preferred solution would be for Microsoft to do the mapping to accessibility APIs from within IE. They are aware that it's a problem that Web 2.0 is leaving people with disabilities behind.

There's really a lot behind ARIA right now. If you look at the FAQ there's a section discussing where ARIA is being adopted (where we're allowed to mention it).

Notice that I didn't say that ARIA is the end-all be all solution right now. I suggested becoming aware of it. People in the programming blind community should be aware of ARIA and understand its trajectory. And personally, if I'm a developer who cares about accessibility, and I'm working on an AJAX project, I at least want to know about ARIA. Why? It might affect my design. In addition, I might want to play with it and see where it's going, and even provide feedback. I might want to include the ARIA markup for those browsers that support ARIA.

A couple things to note:
- If you're already needing to use Javascript widgets or AJAX, you're mostly hosed without ARIA. At the very least, using ARIA won't make you less accessible - ARIA doesn't affect the way the page behaves or renders for mainstream users. So, by adding the markup while you build the widgets, instead of later, you'll continue to benefit from the improvements in ARIA support along the technology chain as they happen.
- Aaron

Sina Bahram wrote:
Aaron, while you know I'm a huge supporter of ARIA, and love the work going
on there. I find it very difficult to recommend it what-so-ever, or make any
technical  references to it, when I can't show it working with jaws, at all.

Putting AT politics aside, the simple fact is that a majority of blind users
use internet explorer, and a majority of them use jaws. This is a simple,
and I would say easily demonstrable fact. So, ARIA has absolutely no purpose
for these folks until we can realize it for jaws users ... you might
convince them to start using Firefox, but you're going to run out of breath
only after a very short time of trying to convince them to use WindowEyes or
something else that's been hardcoded to work with this wonderful and
revolutionary stuff.

Please let me know if this is sounding obtuse, or if I'm missing a
fundamental assumption, but ARIA is useless to a majority of blind users as
it stands right now.

Has FS made any commitments to it?

Has Microsoft shown any willingness for IE discussions regarding it?

What are the steps being taken to make this useful rather than turn it into
something that could have been great?

Take care,

-----Original Message-----
From: programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Aaron Leventhal
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 10:31 AM
To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: accessible ajax

You should probably be aware of the work IBM, Mozilla, W3C, Opera and others
are doing in the area of AJAX and DHTML accessibility.

It's pretty exciting stuff -- making Web 2.0 accessibility possible. The
major areas are keyboard accessibility, screen reader support of JavaScript
widgets, making live changes on a page accessible, drag and drop, and
support for landmarks in a page.

Here's a FAQ about it -- don't be confused about the fact that it discusses
HTML 5 (which doesn't exist yet). I wrote the FAQ to facilitate
communication with the HTML 5 standards group:

The easiest way to take advantage of it at this point would be to use Dojo,
because of all the work that has been going on putting ARIA support into
Dojo.  You can also use ARIA directly. In addition, we'd love to get help
from more developers to put ARIA support into other open source Javascript
toolkits, such that users of Scriptaculous, JQuery, etc. would get
accessibility for free.

- Aaron

jaffar wrote:
Hi All. I have found an accessible, free and open source ajax development framework known as Open Lazlo. It consists of a web based development framework and a tomcat server which is directed to port 8080 on your pc. Although this is strictly an ajax framework, it is based on the LZX, xml based language which provides for very tight xml syntax. The website to download this app is, should you be interested, It is also worth noting that you will be able to create desktop apps with this framework. The only other dependency you will need to run Open Lazlo is the java development kit consisting of the JRE and the sdk which you can obtain from the java website. The framework itself is very easy to master, and the accompanying documentation is very good and comprehensive. Cheers!
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