Testing ARIA User Input control’s navigation support.

Posted on Tuesday, 9 December 2008 by Steve Faulkner

Assistive technology such as screen readers provide keyboard short cuts for navigating the content of web pages. For user input controls such as radio buttons and edit boxes the user can navigate the controls sequentially using assigned ‘form field’ or ‘form control’ navigation keys:

JAWS commands

  • List of Form Fields = INSERT + F5
  • Move To Next Form Field = F
  • Move To Prior Form Field = SHIFT + F

NVDA commands

Navigate by form control = F

Window Eyes commands

  • List controls = INS + TAB
  • Next Control = C
  • Previous Control = SHIFT + C

Form control lists

JAWS and Window Eyes provide a list form controls feature, these lists contain all the elements on a page that are recognized as form controls. Users can select a control from the list and move focus and activate it (JAWS), or move focus to it or move focus and activate it (Window Eyes). So for example using JAWS, if a checkbox is chosen from the list and the OK button pressed, the checkbox will receive focus and its state will be changed.

JAWS - Select a form field list dialog. Ths slider and spinbutton controls are not listed.

Window Eyes form control list. The listbox, slider and spinbutton controls are not listed.

Navigation Support for ARIA User Input control Roles

For ARIA support in assistive technologies (AT) to be considered robust, navigation mechanisms provided in AT must also support ARIA based controls and other interface elements. Results of navigation support testing for JAWS, Window Eyes, and NVDA suggest that although ARIA Roles such as slider, listbox or spinbutton are recognized by some assistive technology, they are not included in control navigation features.

Further Reading

About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Technical Director at TPG. He joined The Paciello Group in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at vision australia. He is the creator and lead developer of the Web Accessibility Toolbar accessibility testing tool. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C Web Platforms Working Group and the W3C ARIA Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including HTML 5.1, ARIA in HTML, Notes on Using ARIA in HTML and HTML5: Techniques for providing useful text alternatives. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility.

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