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HTML5 Accessibility Semantics that Need Community Attention

11.14.2011
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Steve Faulkner posted today on the Paciello Group Blog about the concerns he had about several semantic elements and algorithms in HTML5 related to web accessability.  It was another useful post for developers who aren't familiar with all of the things that still need attention in the HTML5 specification and other web standards.  Here were his thoughts on specific components:

hgroup: According to Faulkner, it's a mess.  Rather than providing a useful semantic for assistive technology users, it reduces the richness of information about subheadings, taglines, etc.  There are currently 5 proposals to abolish or replace it.

header: This element has discussions going on about its usefulness and whether or not current semantics already provide its functionality.

HTML5 outline algorithm: Faulkner says this algorithm could actually undermine users' ability navigate and comprehend documents.

figure and figcaption: These elements currently have no semantic meaning but there is progress with the iAccessible2 API and Firefox's implementation.

Part of what HTML5Acessibility was set up to do was draw attention to the browser vendors role in providing accessibility support. I suggest that browser implementation is an integral aspect of HTML accessibility support, without it there is not chance of robust, interoperable access to web content for AT users. Take a look at the debacle with longdesc, AT for the most part cannot be relied upon, and should not need to be relied upon to implement accessibility features, without the browsers doing their part.  --Steve Faulkner

Faulkner ends the post by stressing that it's important for us to take an active role in the direction of these lesser known standards and not just wait for a decision from on high.

Source: http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2011/11/html5-semantics-and-accessibility/