Re: improved select boxes - still accessible

I've taken a look as well, and there is more going on that ARIA would not be 
able to resolve.

In the basic example where Alaska is converted into a link, if you try 
navigating to it using JAWS in IE, pressing Enter on it does nothing.

Also, when the drop down is rendered, all of these list items appear at the 
bottom of the page in the DOM, and none of the select option items are 
keyboard accessible. E.G, you can't activate the drop down, and you can't 
use the arrow keys to make a selection, and you can't press Enter to make a 

Adding ARIA will not solve any of these issues, since ARIA will only change 
the feedback that screen reader users hear when interacting with a control. 
If the control is not keyboard accessible to begin with, it won't work.

I wrote an article about this at
if it's helpful. These are important concepts for all developers to be aware 

Also, when adding ARIA to an interactive control, if focus is not 
dynamically placed on the correct DOM nodes, the addition of ARIA will not 
matter, since it will still be inaccessible to screen reader users.

To see how a listbox should act from the keyboard, I have a demo of this at
When the Sort button is activated, it generates an accessible listbox 
control, which can then be navigated from the keyboard with or without a 
screen reader.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Brendan McKeon" <>
To: "'Marc Haunschild'" <>; <>
Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2012 1:20 AM
Subject: RE: improved select boxes - still accessible

Hi Marc,

A quick look at these in Chrome's DOM inspector shows that neither are using 
ARIA attributes at all, so can't be considered accessible from a 
screenreader point of view.

Both seem to build some of their custom combos from A elements (and also 
assorted SPAN and LI elements); but since there's no ARIA roles (or any of 
the other attributes that would be required to build an accesible select 
equivalent), NVDA reads them out as links.

At a first glance, keyboard support in both cases is reasonably good; 
keyboard seems to work as expected, esc dismisses the drop-downs as 
expected; this is one bright spot - it used to be the case that custom HTML 
controls didn't even get that right and were essentially mouse-only!

But for now, they can't be considered screenreader accessible in their 
current form due to the lack of ARIA support. If the authors added the 
appropriate support, however, then they could be made accessible ( - at 
least assuming that a user is using a suitably current browser and 
screenreader combination).


Marc, I now have a question for you: I'm curious as to why you asked on this 
list about if these are accessible, instead of testing them out for 
yourself. Perhaps you don't have access to JAWS? If that's the case, then 
for web pages at least, the free NVDA screenreader has pretty much the same 
capabilities, so makes for a good alternative to test or experiment with. Or 
are you just not yet familiar with how to evaluate a control for 
accessibility? I'm wondering what are the resources a web content author 
would need to have in order to be able to make this determination 



Brendan McKeon |

-----Original Message-----
From: Marc Haunschild []
Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:45 AM
Subject: Fwd: SV: improved select boxes - still accessible

Of course you guys are right. Here are the missing links

So sorry!

----- Urspr√ľngliche Mail -----
Von: "Morten Tollefsen" <>
An: "Marc Haunschild" <>
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 16. August 2012 08:44:10
Betreff: SV: improved select boxes - still accessible


Perhaps you forgot a link in the message below?

- Morten

-----Opprinnelig melding-----
Fra: Marc Haunschild []
Sendt: 16. august 2012 08:01
Emne: improved select boxes - still accessible

Hi everyone,

I found two really interesting javaScript upgrades for select boxes. I want 
to use them, but I wonder if they are accessible in jaws and other 
screenreader software.

Also I would like to get some general feedback. Is it confusing to interact 
with these modified boxes? Or do you think the improvements are helpful?

I am grateful for any response!

Thanks for your help!


Received on Thursday, 16 August 2012 16:29:14 UTC