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ARIA's relationship to the Role Module [PF ACTION-205]

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2008 20:29:11 +0100
To: public-xhtml2@w3.org, wai-liaison@w3.org
Message-Id: <20080723192549.M62137@hicom.net>

CONTEXT: This post is in reference to my inquiry of the PF WG on behalf 
of the XHTML2 WG on the use of the Role module in ARIA; my original 
query can be found at:


or, for those without member-access:


In the above-referenced post, i quoted the sections of the ARIA 
specification that refers to "a role attribute similar to the one 
defined in the XHTML Role Attribute Module -- text which has been 
revised in the latest (23 July 2008) editor's draft of ARIA 1.0, 
as follows:

<q cite="http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/aria/#Using_intro">

An ARIA role is set on an element using the a role attribute similar 
to the one defined in the XHTML Role Attribute Module [XHTML-ROLES].

<div role = "checkbox">

The roles defined in this specification include a collection of 
document landmarks and the ARIA role taxonomy.

The Roles in this taxonomy were modeled using RDF/OWL [OWL] to build 
rich descriptions of the expected behaviors of each role. Features of 
the role taxononmy [SIC] provide the following information for each 

    * describes the context of a role, for example a listitem should 
      be inside a list;
    * defines a hierarchy of roles with related properties, for 
      example a directory is a type of list;
    * makes use of OWL to provide a type hierarchy allowing for 
      semantic inheritance similar to a class hierarchy;
    * makes references to related concepts in other specifications;
    * provides descriptions for each role;
    * describes what states are supported for each role, for example, 
      a checkbox supports being checked.

Attaching a role from the role taxonomy to an element in the document 
gives assistive technology the information it needs to handle an 
element correctly.

Furthermore, the XHTML2 WG was concerned that the references to "role" 
in ARIA section 4.2.4,


treats role as a pure abstraction, without reference to the XHTML Role 

i was, therefore, tasked by the XHTML2 WG to pose the question to the 
PFWG as to why ARIA uses the word "similar", after observing that ARIA 
derives its syntax from the extensibility rules defined by the XHTML 
Role Module

i was also tasked by the XHTML2 WG to ask if the abstract reference to 
"role" in section 4.2.4 is an intentional change?

CLARIFICATION (based on discussions at PF WG telecons of 2008-07-16 
and 2008-07-23)

The word "similar" was inserted to satisfy general requirements for HTML 
processing, since the Role module includes low-level processing 
specifics, which can't be ported to HTML5; therefore, in order to enable
ARIA in HTML5 it is necessary to define low-level DOM parsing whilst 
still accepting same content, with same accessibility result. Of course,
if one is using XHTML2 to author a document, then that author would and 
SHOULD use the Role Module, but since HTML5 has an issue with modular 
referencing, role is treated in ARIA as an abstraction in order to ensure 
interoperability with non-modularized MLs as well as host language 
without namespaces.

The objective is that the same data will end up being exposed to the 
pertinent Accessibility API, which leads to a two-tiered approach: 
general requirements and module integration (not generic requirement)
which is due to "angle bracket" distinctions between M12n and HTML5

In addition, PF would like to note that there is an open ACTION item on 
Michael Cooper to coordinate with Shane McCarron on this issue:

<q cite="http://www.w3.org/WAI/PF/Group/track/actions/155">

Related notes:

2008-06-24 22:34:14: Also need to figure out if this module should be 
normative or remain informative; if normative in what circumstances 
(e.g., for applications that use XHTML modularization for their 
technology). [Michael Cooper]


Please inform the PF if this answer satisfies the XHTML2 WG, and if not,
why not and what would the XHTML2 WG suggest?

PF's goal with ARIA is not to champion one approach to declarative 
markup over any other, but to enable much needed (and too long delayed) 
access to the tag-soup and embedded widgets and controls that 
predominate today's (and yesterday's) web, while paving a way towards a 
sane and consistent approach to integrating ARIA into whatever host 
language needs the semantics and state and property identification which 
ARIA provides.

thank you, 
gregory j rosmaita (on behalf of the PFWG)
It is better to ask some of the questions than to know 
all the answers.                      -- James Thurber
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
         Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus
Oedipus' Online Complex: http://my.opera.com/oedipus
Received on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 19:29:46 UTC

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