WAI-ARIA

ARIA becomes an official web standard

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Screen reader users can expect to gain greater access to websites thanks to technical guidelines, called WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications), becoming an official standard.

ARIA is technology built into the code of a website which communicates specific information for screen reader users. ARIA landmarks and labels identify elements such as menus, forms and search boxes. ARIA live regions identify parts of a webpage that change, such as a rolling banner. These features, which are invisible to anyone not using a screen reader, can make all the difference for a blind user.

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Users and industry rush to support assistive technology

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NV Access, the developer of the free NVDA screen reader, has received US$21,200 in donations from users in addition to funding from several organisations since its request in January. This will lead to a number of improvements to accessibility for those who are blind or vision impaired.

One of the supporting organisations is software company Adobe which has contracted NV Access to enhance NVDA's support for Adobe products. This will improve access to PDFs, electronic forms, e-books and other digital documents for users who are blind or vision impaired. NV Access will also work on improving Adobe Flash Player’s accessibility issues.

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Web accessibility meets SEO for a win-win situation

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Every business is interested in return on investment, so when Jared Smith, Associate Director of WebAIM, blogged earlier this week about web accessibility and SEO there was interest from managers, web professionals and marketers alike.

The benefit of web accessibility practices for improved search engine ranking isn’t new. The W3C-WAI has listed SEO as a financial factor that should feature in a web accessibility business case for your organisation for some time, and a simple Google search will turn up many articles discussing this topic.

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HTML 5 – updates and logos and WAI, oh my! A busy start to 2011

For many people, January is one of the quietest months of the year. Here in Australia, the combination of Christmas, New Year and the hot summer weather is often a time when people take leave, with most people being back on board towards the end of the month.

For the rest of the world, though, January seems to be one of the busiest times, especially in technology circles. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas always provides a great showcase of new products, and the W3C keeps churning out new updates, focusing heavily on HTML 5.  

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