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[Bug 20088] New: Discuss benefits of using role=application

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 16:57:53 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-ID: <bug-20088-2486@http.www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/>

            Bug ID: 20088
           Summary: Discuss benefits of using role=application
    Classification: Unclassified
           Product: HTML WG
           Version: unspecified
          Hardware: PC
                OS: All
            Status: NEW
          Severity: normal
          Priority: P2
         Component: Using ARIA in HTML
          Assignee: faulkner.steve@gmail.com
          Reporter: dmazzoni@google.com
        QA Contact: dave.null@w3.org
                CC: mike@w3.org, public-html-bugzilla@w3.org

The section on using role=application is good in that it cautions web
developers from using role=application in cases where it could be harmful.
However, I feel like what is missing is the *why*: why is it occasionally
useful to use role=application, what are the actual effects? And why is it
often harmful to use it, what are the negative consequences?

For example, I think it'd be helpful to quickly note that for "modal" screen
readers, most keystrokes are captured by the screen reader and not the web page
when the user is in browse mode. This prevents screen reader users from having
access to global keyboard shortcuts in a web app. Application mode means that
screen reader shortcuts for browsing the page are no longer available, all
keystrokes go to the page. The user won't be able to skip around the page by
headings or read a paragraph of static text line-by-line. So, if the advantages
of keyboard shortcuts outweigh the loss of those features, role=application is

I think that's clearer than the 90-95% guideline, which is arbitrary. A web app
could only be 50% focusable controls but still benefit from role=application
(with judicious use of role=document), and another web app could be 95%
focusable controls but there'd be no reason to use role=application because it
has no global keyboard shortcuts.

Also maybe note that it is not necessary to use role=application to have
control-specific keyboard shortcuts while the user is in focus mode: a custom
control with ARIA role=listbox can easily capture all keys pressed including
arrow keys, while the user is interacting with it.

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Received on Monday, 26 November 2012 16:57:59 UTC

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