Technologic (Human afterall): Accessibility mix

Leonie Watson, The Paciello Group (TPG)

Technologic (Human afterall): Accessibility mix

Accessible By Design, Bloomington May 2018

Léonie Watson ~


"Buy it, use it, break it, fix it"

"Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it"

Implicit semantics

Most HTML elements have implicit semantics (role and state)

The a element

<a href="">Tink.UK</a>

Screen reader demo: the a element

Screen reader says
" [Link]"

The img element

<img src="chamucos.png"
     alt="A bottle of Chamucos tequila with the dancing devil logo">

Screen reader demo: the img element

Screen reader says
"[Graphic] A bottle of Chamucos tequila with the dancing devil logo"

The input type="checkbox" element

<input type="checkbox" id="tequila" checked>
<label for="tequila">Tequila makes me happy</label>

Screen reader demo: the input type="checkbox" element

Screen reader says
"Tequila [Checkbox, checked]"

Neutral semantics

Some elements do not convey role or state

The div & span elements

<span class="button">
Add English Breakfast tea to basket</span>

Screen reader demo: the div & span elements

Screen reader says
"Add English Breakfast tea to basket"

"Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it"

Keyboard focus

HTML has interactive elements that receive focus, including:

DOM order


Screen reader demo: DOM order

Expected interactions

Interactive elements have expected interactions provided by the browser:

"Snap it, work it, quick - erase it"

The details & summary elements

Makes me happy!

The accessibility tree: details element


Screen reader demo: the details & summary elements

Accessibility APIs

Windows MacOS Linux
UI Automation (UIA)
MS Active Accessibility (MSAA)
IAccessible2 (IA2)
OSX Accessibility Protocol (AXAPI) Accessibility Toolkit (ATK)
AT Service Provider Interface (AT-SPI)

"Write it, cut it, paste it, save it"


Attributes that polyfill missing role, name, and state information for screen readers

ARIA 1.1 (W3C Recommendation)

The role attribute

70+ roles, including:

The aria- attributes

45+ states and properties, including:

"Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it"

Recreating the details & summary elements

Design pattern available here:

The div and span elements

<span id="button">Tequila <span id="icon"></span></span>
<div id="content">Makes me happy</div>

Keyboard demo: disclosure

Disclosure button

The tabindex attribute

<span id="button" tabindex="0">Tequila <span id="icon"></span></span>
  var button = document.getElementById('button');
  button.setAttribute('tabindex', 0);

The role attribute

button.setAttribute('role', 'button');

The aria-expanded attribute

button.setAttribute('aria-expanded', 'false');

The aria-controls attribute (optional)

button.setAttribute('aria-controls', 'content');

The aria-hidden attribute

icon.setAttribute('aria-hidden', 'true');

The hidden attribute

content.setAttribute('hidden', 'true');

Rendered code

<span id="button" tabindex="0" role="button"
      aria-expanded="false" aria-controls="content">
    Tequila <span id="icon" aria-hidden="true"></span>
<div id="content" hidden>Makes me happy</div>

Pointer interaction

button.addEventListener('click', disclose, false);

Keyboard interaction

button.addEventListener('keydown', function(event) {
    if (event.keyCode == 13 || event.keyCode ==32) {


if (content.hasAttribute('hidden')) {
    button.setAttribute('aria-expanded', 'true');
    button.setAttribute('aria-controls', 'content');
else {
    button.setAttribute('aria-expanded', 'false');
    content.setAttribute('hidden', 'true');

Screen reader demo: disclosure

"Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it
Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it"

Screen readers

Jaws NVDA Voiceover Narrator Orca TalkBack
Jaws NVDA Voiceover Narrator Orca TalkBack
(Freedom Scientific) (NV Access) (Apple) (Microsoft) (GNOME) (Android)


Normal scale Zoom scale



"Lock it, fill it, call it, find it
View it, code it, jam - unlock it"

Space Jam

Space Jam poster (1996)

Space Jam website

Space Jam website (1996)

Old school style

<body vlink="#ff4c4c"


<table width="500" border="0">
      <td align="left">...</td>




<font size="-1">
  <a target="_blank" href="">
    Legal/Privacy Information About This Site.</a>

Fixed in time

It's resilient, but:

"Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it
Cross it, crack it, switch - update it"

CSS1 (1996)

CSS2 (1998)

The after selector

#a:after {
  content: ' Makes me happy!';
<a href="/" id="a">Tequila!</a>

CSS2.1 on generated content

Generated content does not alter the document tree. In particular, it is not fed back to the document language processor (e.g., for reparsing).

DOM representation

<a href="/" id="a">Tequila!</a>

"Name it, rate it, tune it, print it
Scan it, send it, fax - rename it"

Screen reader demo: the after selector

Screen reader says
Tequila, makes me happy! [link]

Browser support

Chrome Edge Firefox Safari
Chrome Edge Firefox Safari
(Google) (Microsoft) (Mozilla) (Apple)

Browser solutions

CSS3 FlexBox

The button element


Screen reader demo: DOM order

The display & order properties

<div style="display: flex;">
    <button style="order: 3;">1</button>
    <button style="order: 2;">2</button>
    <button style="order: 1;">3</button>

Screen reader demo: flex order

Spec advice?

Authors must use ‘order' only for visual, not logical, reordering of content.

The tabindex attribute

<div style="display: flex;">
    <button style="order: 3;" tabindex="3">1</button>
    <button style="order: 2;" tabindex="2">2</button>
    <button style="order: 1;" tabindex="1">3</button>

Screen reader demo: tabindex order

The tabindex attribute problem

The aria-flowto attribute

<div style="display: flex;">
    <button id="b1" aria-flowto="b3" style="order: 3;">1</button>
    <button id="b2" aria-flowto="b1" style="order: 2;">2</button>
    <button id="b3" aria-flowto="b2" style="order: 1;">3</button>

Screen reader demo: the aria-flowto attribute

The aria-flowto attribute problem

The Firefox "bug"

"Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it
Turn it, leave it, start - format it"

It doesn't have to be perfect

... just a little bit better than yesterday

Technologic (Human afterall)

Technologic (Human afterall): Accessibility mix

Accessible By Design, Bloomington May 2018

Léonie Watson ~