Javascript and Accessibility

By : cdeszaq

As a web developer, a number of the projects I work on fall under government umbrellas and hence are subject to 508 Accessibility laws, and sometimes W3C accessibility guidelines. To what extent can JavaScript be used while still meeting these requirements?

Along these lines, to what extent is JavaScript, specifically AJAX and using packages like jQuery to do things such as display modal dialogues, popups, etc. supported by modern accessibility software such as JAWS, Orca, etc? In the past, the rule went something like "If it won't work in Lynx, it won't work for a screen reader." Is this still true, or has there been more progress in these areas?

EDIT: The consensus seems to be that javascript is fine as long as there are non-javascript fallbacks, however it still seems uncertain about the support for AJAX in screen reader software. If anyone has specific experience with this, that would be most helpful.

By : cdeszaq


If accessibility is your primary concern, always start a website using standards-compliant (pick a Document Type Definition and stick to it) HTML. If it's a web application (form submissions, etc), make sure the forms will work using just HTTP GET and POST. Once you have a complete website/application you can add bits of CSS and JavaScript as long as the site still functions, with either or both off.

The most important concept here is Progressive Enhancement. You're adding additional bells and whistles using CSS/JavaScript, but your web site/application will function perfectly well without either.

A great tool for testing 508, WAI, CSS off, JavaScript off try using the Web Developer plugin for Firefox.


You might also take a look at FlashAid, although it is far from a perfect solution. (But, if you used progressive enhancement and only used AJAX when Flash was present and the user wasn't using the accessibility API, you might have a reasonable solution... for Windows.)

In the long run WAI-ARIA is the solution. It is somewhat supported in JAWS 10 (beta) and Firevox, but it certainly isn't sufficient for all of today's users.

By : Cugel

JQuery has the capability to be unobtrusive and therefore accessible. The trick is to have redundancy around your AJAX calls so browsers without JavaScript can still utilize your service. In other words, wherever you have JavaScript responses, dialogs, etc you need to have a degraded equivalent.

One way to do this to reuse your code, is to have your "simple" page calling a "function" (or whatever you use for server side logic) that can be called by itself, returning JSON or XML.

For example: /static/myform.asp (in the server side, 'includes' the same logic as /ajax/myform.asp) that way you'd be using asp as django's templates.

Of course, with a full featured bell and whistles framework, you could make this a lot easier (think of having an html and an xml 'template' for the same view in django), but the same idea applyes.

Having done this, iterating over all anchors on document ready using jQuery and adding onclick events using the anchor's own link, remplacing /static/ajax/ could make your life easier.

Can anyone think of reasons for this to be too much of a burden? Would like to know if there is any serious flaw on this 'design idea'.

By : voyager

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin