Role Attribute 1.0 is now a completed Web Standard, published today as a W3C Recommendation. Role Attribute is an XML attribute that allows authors to add semantic information to documents. Role Attribute supports WAI-ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications technical specification for making dynamic, interactive web content accessible to people with disabilities.  

For details on the role attribute, see the Role Attribute 1.0 document.

Source:  W3C WAI

Web applications today are a challenge to make accessible because native HTML does not have the language to support all of the types of widgets added to Web pages. WAI-ARIA provides a way to add roles, states and properties to make RIA accessible to assistive technology such as screen readers.

The adoption of rich internet technologies such as Dojo, jQuery and YUI has increased the overall usability of websites but many of these features are not usable by people with disabilities.  WAI-ARIA is a coding specification from the W3C that defines attributes that can be added to HTML elements to communicate key information to assistive technology to make these components understandable and accessible.

Today, there is varying levels of support within browsers and assistive technology but usage is increasing (See WAI-ARIA usage statistics published by BuildWith).  Interactive Accessibility recommends using WAI-ARIA but caution should be used and only those with good level of support across asssitive technology should be used. 

WAI-ARIA Assistive Technology Support

  1. JAWS screen reader supports WAI-ARIA (Word Document)

WAI-ARIA Reference Documents

For more information on WAI-ARIA see:



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