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Introduction to ARIA: The Why, The How, The New, The Weird…

taught by: Patrick Lauke


Vanilla HTML is limiting and boring. Our clients demand highly engaging and interactive web experiences. And wouldn’t you know, with just a bit of HTML and JavaScript we can craft amazing custom controls, widgets and effects that go far beyond the confines of traditional static markup. But how can we ensure that these custom experiences are both understandable and usable for people with disabilities, and in particular those using assistive technologies such as screen readers?

In this talk, we will look at the basics of making some common custom-built components accessible - covering how browsers and assistive technologies interact, the limitations of HTML, and how ARIA can help make interactive experiences more accessible. In addition, we will explore some of the recent additions in ARIA 1.1, as well as some particular challenges when it comes to traditional ARIA patterns and assistive technologies on mobile/tablet/touch devices.

Practical Skills:

  • Understanding the rationale for ARIA: how browsers and assistive technologies interact, the accessibility tree, why simply building custom components with HTML/CSS/JS is not sufficient to ensure purpose, functionality and state are conveyed to AT
  • Working examples of common rich internet widgets (from humble buttons to more complex/compound constructs like accordions, tab panels, dialogs), with before/after comparisons of how they can be “accessified” using ARIA
  • An overview of some of the recent changes/additions to ARIA in version 1.1
  • A critical look at some areas where ARIA (and long-held ARIA patterns) does not adequately work, particularly on mobile/tablet/touch


  • A solid understanding of HTML and basic JavaScript