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Re: ARIA use in HTML other than for accessibility.

From: Michael[tm] Smith <mike@w3.org>
Date: Sat, 2 May 2015 08:12:38 +0900
To: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <20150501231238.GB8828@sideshowbarker.net>
[trimming Cc]

Shane McCarron <shane@aptest.com>, 2015-05-01 12:46 -0500:
> Archived-At: <http://www.w3.org/mid/CAOk_reEp6_2CwBO0Y8Bz4-CwBvxZyF0NN38kT09B-PDttqeZ5Q@mail.gmail.com>
> ...
> The Role Attribute recommendation [1] specifies the way in which an RDFa
> processor may extract semantic information from the role attribute.

The Role Attribute spec isn’t relevant to HTML, since the HTML spec doesn’t
normatively reference it, nor even indirectly reference it.

Instead, the HTML spec defines a native HTML `role` attribute that aligns
with the requirements in the ARIA 1.0 spec at

That section is the only part of the ARIA 1.0 spec related to the `role`
attribute which the HTML spec normatively references. (And so, since that
section doesn’t itself reference the Role Attribute spec, the Role
Attribute spec isn’t even indirectly relevant to HTML.)

> So yes, ARIA and @role provide MORE than just data for assistive
> technologies.  This was the plan from it's inception more than 10 years ago
> when Rich, Steven Pemberton, I, and many others started the work.

While that may have been the plan way back when, that’s not the scope that
HTML constrains use of the actual HTML `role` attribute to. The HTML spec
makes reference to the `role` attribute strictly in the context of its as-
implemented purpose in exposing information about a document:

> To enable assistive technology products to expose a more fine-grained
> interface than is otherwise possible with HTML elements and attributes, a
> set of annotations for assistive technology products can be specified
> (the ARIA role and aria-* attributes). [ARIA]

> I understand that for whatever reason the HTML Working Group has restricted
> the use of role to the values defined for ARIA.

The reason is that to do otherwise and instead implement an open-ended
`role` attribute along the hypothetical lines in the Role Attribute spec
would violate design principles that have guided HTML over its history (I
mean HTML as implemented and shipped in actual Web UAs—in contrast to, say,
XHTML2 or XHTML Modularization or whatever) and especially in HTML as
(re)architected over the last 10 years, and so because to do otherwise
would be inconsistent with the rest of HTML and break with many precedents.

> We can debate that another time if you like.  But the ARIA values are a
> meaningful collection, and as the collection expands, and it will, the
> available semantic information about documents and applications will also
> necessarily expand.  This can ONLY be a good thing.

Actually I think it can be a quite bad and harmful thing—especially if it’s
the case—as it seems to be now with, e.g., the 30+ DPUB properties that
there’s an effort going on to push into the `role` attribute—that the
collection is getting expanded with proposed values that are either largely
unnecessary and without any demonstrated relevance to actual user needs in
the real world, or redundant with existing ARIA role values to the point
that they are essentially just aliases.

> I appreciate that there are some in the HTML community who feel that the
> use of values for @role should be constrained.

It’s not just “some in the HTML community”—it’s the as-defined HTML
language which is making those constraints, as documented in the HTML spec.

> It would be foolish and short-sighted to attempt to limit its use and
> thereby limit that perception, in exactly the same way it would be
> foolish and short-sighted to have said "closed captioning must only be
> made available to people who are hard of hearing".

That’s not at all a reasonable analogy in this case.

> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/role-attribute


Michael[tm] Smith https://people.w3.org/mike

Received on Friday, 1 May 2015 23:13:01 UTC

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