Dynamic Injection of WAI-ARIA into Web Content

What do you do when the coder’s haven’t included WAI-ARIA in the AJAX. Option 1, ignore it and quote the guidelines; Option 2, try to manually flag it and fix it; or Option 3 try to automatically fix it by programmatically injecting the correct WAI-ARIA directly into content – client side. We discuss Option 3!

Simply we saw a need for a way of identifying AJAX in RIAs, deciding on the type of Widget the AJAX represented – calendar picker, tab bar, etc – and deciding if WAI-ARIA was included. If not we capture best practice from te guidelines and programmatically alter the content client-side, so that the user experiences a fixed page.

WAI-ARIA enables Web developers to make dynamic content accessible to users of assistive technologies (ATs) but there remain many sites on the Web that do not use it. Unfortunately the default behaviour of ATs when handling such pages is often sub-optimal, leaving users struggling to use the content. We present ACup: a flexible approach that injects JavaScript into the page to detect and classify any changes to the Document Object Model (DOM). These changes are then presented to the user using a WAI-ARIA live region that was injected when the page was loaded. The style of presentation varies according to the characteristics of each update (using rules previously bound to be effective) and can simply be changed, for example to test novel presentation approaches, or to apply a more fine-grained classification. This may be used to enable AT users to benefit more rapidly from advances in user-interface design.

Thanks to Google for fully funding the ‘Accessibility Catch-Up: Techniques for Disseminating Accessibility Research (ACup)’ project which produced this work and investigates the possibility of using scripting technology, as used by AxsJAX, to bring developments in accessibility research to users more quickly.

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