Friday, August 28


Greetings. ARIA, or Accessible Rich Internet Application, is an emerging set of web technologies that allows people to interact more with the web in new and different ways than HTML was designed for. HTML, or hypertext markup language, was for a long time the language of the web, as I've told my Internet class students. It tells the text where to go and what to do on a web page. However, now that we've entered the world of growing applications or what many people are calling Web 2.0, such as Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, and even some of the Google apps like Calendar and Docs (documents), we need more from our WWW and we need it to act in different ways that HTML might not be able to do. Enter ARIA.

I'm focusing on JAWS here because that's what I'm familiar with, but given the dynamic nature of the WWW these days, in that it's always changing, and that many people want to keep up with those changes, I don't know for sure but it's probably safe to say that other screen reader manufacturers are also working on support for ARIA applications/sites. Though before you ask, refer to their documentation and versions of screen readers for more details.

As far as JAWS goes though, version 10 is where the ARIA support has started, and I'm sure it will be further developed and enhanced with future versions of JAWS. On the browser side, we saw some support for ARIA in Internet Explorer 7, but even more in version 8. And I've heard that Mozilla's Firefox was the first browser to "officially" adopt ARIA support.

For more on ARIA and how it will effect our daily lives in a short time, a colleague of mine predicts within a year we're going to be seeing it everywhere on the web, check out these resources:

In the January FS Cast (direct link to download the show)
ARIA was the topic of discussion. In that broadcast, Jonathan mosen spoke with Glen Gordon, the Chief Technology Officer of Freedom Scientific all about ARIA, then Jonathan did some demonstrations of how one might use ARIA on the web.

On May 26 of this year, Glen and Dan Clark appeared on a webinar, an online interactive seminar session, jointly hosted by FS and EASI, covering ARIA from a web developer standpoint. they also provided more of the history of ARIA. Download an dlisten to this broadcast at Click here to download the zipped HTML files from Glen's presentation on ARIA.

I'm sure that there are other resources out there, including some good ones mentioned in Glen Gordon's presentation linked above, but these will at least explain ARIA better and provide examples of where you might find ARIA applications/sites. Enjoy.

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