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A Spin Around JavaScript and ARIA

taught by: Nicolas Steenhout

co-presented by: Eric Eggert

Session Summary:

You can’t get away from JavaScript (JS) in web development. But you can use JS and make sites accessible, despite the historical conflict between JS and accessibility. You can even increase the accessibility with judicious use of JS. Along the way, you may need ARIA. But you shouldn’t ARIA all the things! This session will guide you through some basic JavaScript vs accessibility concepts. It will also go over considerations as to when and how to use ARIA, and show common pitfalls.


It wasn’t so many years ago that some accessibility experts would turn off JavaScript to test a site and deem it inaccessible if they couldn’t use the site. Things have changed. Assistive technology, including screenreaders, have come a long way and can interact with JavaScript, if accessibility has been kept in mind. Surveys consistently show that over 97% of screenreader users have JavaScript enabled. Not to mention people with disabilities that don’t use screenreader software and also have JavaScript enabled. Planning for (and maintaining) a solution is not going to make a page accessible.

If you develop websites or web-based applications and use JavaScript, this presentation is for you. People with disabilities account for over a billion people worldwide. That’s roughly 15% of the world population who may experience barriers on the web because they can’t see the screen, hear media files, use a mouse, concentrate for long periods of time, perceive colors, etc. This, in effect, makes people with disabilities the world’s largest minority on the web with $220 Billion in discretionary spending power in the United States alone. Much bigger and influential than any other minority. Considering the needs of this population is not only wise, but in many cases legally mandated.

In this presentation, we will talk about some of the issues that can arise from using JavaScript, and how to use it while maintaining accessibility. Some of the information covered will include:

•	Event handlers,
•	Pop-up windows,
•	Page refreshes,
•	JavaScript generated content.

Practical Skills:

Learn simple ways to improve accessibility of common tasks conducted with JavaScript, Know when to use ARIA and when not to use it, Know how to use ARIA correctly