WAI-ARIA Overview


WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies. Without WAI-ARIA certain functionality used in Web sites is not available to some users with disabilities, especially people who rely on screen readers and people who cannot use a mouse. WAI-ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With WAI-ARIA, developers can make advanced Web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities.

This page describes the problems that WAI-ARIA addresses, and introduces the WAI-ARIA suite of technical documents. Many of the terms used in this page—including Web content, user agents, and assistive technology—are described in Introduction to Web Accessibility and Essential Components of Web Accessibility.

Technical Solutions

WAI-ARIA provides a framework for adding attributes to identify features for user interaction, how they relate to each other, and their current state. WAI-ARIA describes navigation techniques to mark regions and common Web structures as menus, primary content, secondary content, banner information, and other types of Web structures. For example, with WAI-ARIA, developers can identify regions of pages and enable keyboard users to easily move among regions, rather than having to press Tab many times.

WAI-ARIA also includes technologies to map controls, live regions, and events to accessibility application programming interfaces (APIs), including custom controls used for rich Internet applications. WAI-ARIA techniques apply to widgets such as buttons, drop-down lists, calendar functions, tree controls (for example, expandable menus), and others.

WAI-ARIA provides Web authors with the following:


The latest status is updated in the FAQ: What is the current status of WAI-ARIA development?


The 1.2 version will extend WAI-ARIA 1.1 to provide a small number of features to complete the HTML + ARIA accessibility model. For 1.2, user agent implementation guidance is provided as a suite of accessibility API mapping specifications that describe how to expose semantics of WAI-ARIA and other web content languages to accessibility APIs.

Published WAI-ARIA 1.2 Working Drafts are as follows:

Additional documents are expected in this suite, including other accessibility API mappings and updated authoring guidance. Editors’ drafts under development can be accessed in the WAI-ARIA GitHub Repository.

W3C Recommendations and Working Group Notes are briefly explained in How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process, which also describes milestones in the W3C Process.

Technical document format

The WAI-ARIA documents follow the W3C format for technical specifications which includes several sections at the beginning: links to different versions, editors, copyright, abstract, and status with the link to errata and the email address for comments.

Who develops WAI-ARIA

The WAI-ARIA technical documents are developed by the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Working Group (ARIA WG), which is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). For more information about the working group, see the ARIA WG public page.

How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process: Milestones and Opportunities to Contribute describes formal periods for public review. Opportunities for review and comment of WAI documents are announced on the WAI home page and WAI Interest Group mailing list. An email address for sending comments is included in the “Status of this Document” section.

Opportunities for contributing to WAI-ARIA and other WAI work are introduced in Participating in WAI.

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