The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today published documents to help
developers create Web sites that are more easily accessible for people with
People with disabilities, such as blindness or deafness, rely on assistive
technologies, such as speech dictation software, screen readers and
keyboards to access the Web.
These tools require information about the semantics of a document to present
Web menus, content and banners in an accessible form.
But some Web sites run applications that deliver a combination of too many
scripting-rich technologies, the W3C said in a statement.
These include technologies and languages such as AJAX
which don't usually provide the semantics needed to support assistive
In fact, such technologies can even prevent people with disabilities from
accessing these applications, locking them out of some of the most
interesting aspects of the Internet.
The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative's (WAI)
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) outlines a way for ensuring
interoperability between rich Internet applications and assistive
technologies used by people with disabilities.
Specifically, the guidelines map controls, AJAX live regions and events to
, including custom controls used for
rich Web apps.
The roadmap also documents new navigation techniques to delineate
menus, primary content, secondary content, banner information and other
types of Web structures.
These new technologies can be used to improve the accessibility and
usability of Web resources by people with disabilities without major
changes to existing Web resources.
"This new suite of documents... is significant because they will help
developers gain access to the tools needed to support persons with
disabilities on the Web," said Rich Schwerdtfeger, IBM distinguished
engineer and author of the WAI-ARIA roadmap.
Other organizations working on the WAI-ARIA roadmap under the aegis of the
W3C include Adobe Systems
, SAP AG
and the Royal National Institute for the Blind.