Aria (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) and Web 2.0

Program Information:

Presentation (links open in a new window):

Web 2.0 applications have redefined how we use the Web to be more in line with a desktop user experience. Consequently, the way we address web accessibility needed to change dramatically to be in line with what we might expect for Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)s. This change, initiated by IBM 4 years ago is now coming to fruition in the form of extensions to XHTML called the W3C Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) specifications. ARIA is the most important change for accessibility in the last ten years and its support is growing beyond IBM to companies like Yahoo, Google, SAP, Mozilla, and Opera as well as assistive technology vendors. This presentation introduced ARIA and the necessary gaps it fills in XHTML along with the techniques used to support it in HTML 4.01 which will be incorporated into HTML 5.

It provided the basics on how to implement ARIA including changes in the way we implement keyboard support including changes to portal content to improve keyboard navigation. ARIA is also about full interoperability with assistive technologies. This session provided an introduction to interoperability to desktop applications and how ARIA delivers the same level of interoperability with Rich Internet Applications.

The advent of ARIA is also impacting outdated industry accessibility guidelines such as U.S. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The session discussed how developers can meet compliance through the use of "Equivalent Facilitation." The presentation covered projects designed to reduce the effort in producing an accessible Web 2.0 application with a focus on the Dojo Toolkit. where the core GUI components are ARIA-enabled and pretested with assistive technologies. It briefly covered accessibility issues with mashups and wrap up with a discussion on the standards time frame, and new open source accessibility test tooling called AccProbe.

Presenter: Rich Schwerdtfeger, Distinguished Engineer, IBM Emerging Technologies Group

Rich Schwerdtfeger is a Distinguished Engineer in the IBM Emerging Technologies Group responsible for accessibility strategy and architecture for IBM software. Rich chairs the IBM Accessibility Architecture Review Board (AARB) and is an IBM Master Inventor. Rich has broad responsibilities spanning all business units within IBM and is a working member in W3C WAI, HTML, and XHTML working groups and co-chairs the IMS Global Learning Consortium and OASIS ODF Accessibility working groups. Rich led Java accessibility development at IBM including the IBM/Sun accessibility collaboration. Rich initiated and leads the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) effort in the W3C.

Time, Place & Directions:

  • December 7, 2007
  • 9:00 am - Noon (8:30 Registration)
  • Meeting Rooms 2 & 3, Empire Sate Plaza Convention Center, Albany, NY