Understanding ARIA Attributes

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Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) play a pivotal role in this realm, ensuring that web content and applications are accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities. This blog marks the beginning of our journey into the world of ARIA, where we will explore its attributes and their impact on web accessibility.

What is ARIA?

ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications. As a set of attributes, it enriches standard HTML by providing additional semantics that make web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities. Developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), ARIA bridges gaps in accessibility that cannot be managed with HTML alone.

ARIA works alongside HTML, complementing it, to enhance the user experience for screen readers and other assistive technologies. By defining ways to make web content and applications more accessible, ARIA plays a crucial role in building an inclusive digital world.

The Importance of ARIA for Accessibility

Web accessibility is about creating an online space that’s usable by everyone, regardless of their ability or disability. ARIA attributes specifically help people with disabilities, such as visual impairments, by providing additional context or information that’s not typically conveyed through HTML.

Compliance with web accessibility standards, like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), is not only a matter of ethical responsibility but also a legal requirement in many contexts. ARIA plays a vital role in fulfilling these standards by ensuring that web applications and content are more inclusive.

Overview of ARIA Attributes

ARIA attributes can be broadly classified into three categories: roles, states, and properties.

  • Roles tell assistive technology what an element is, such as a button, dialog, or slider.
  • States and properties provide additional information about the element’s current condition or configuration, like `aria-expanded` to indicate if a collapsible element is currently open or closed.

This layer of information helps assistive technologies convey the purpose and functionality of elements to users, enhancing the overall accessibility of the content.

List of All ARIA Attributes

Here’s a comprehensive list of ARIA attributes, each briefly described:

Widget Attributes

  • aria-autocomplete: Indicates whether user input completion suggestions are provided.
  • aria-checked: Indicates the checked state of a checkbox or radio button.
  • aria-disabled: Indicates that the element is perceivably disabled and non-interactive.
  • aria-errormessage: Identifies the element that provides an error message for an object.
  • aria-expanded: Indicates whether the associated content is expanded or collapsed.
  • aria-haspopup: Indicates the presence of a popup, such as a menu or dialog.
  • aria-hidden: Indicates whether an element is visible to screen readers.
  • aria-invalid: Indicates the entered value in an input field does not match the expected format or value.
  • aria-label: Provides a text label for an element.
  • aria-level: Defines the hierarchical level of an element within a structure.
  • aria-modal: Indicates whether an element is a modal when displayed.
  • aria-multiline: Indicates whether a textbox accepts multiple lines of input.
  • aria-multiselectable: Indicates whether the user can select more than one item.
  • aria-orientation: Indicates the element’s orientation (horizontal/vertical).
  • aria-placeholder: Defines a short hint in an input field.
  • aria-pressed: Indicates the current “pressed” state of toggle buttons.
  • aria-readonly: Indicates that the element is not editable but is otherwise operable.
  • aria-required: Indicates that user input is required on an element.
  • aria-selected: Indicates the current “selected” state of various widgets.
  • aria-sort: Indicates if items in a table or grid are sorted.
  • aria-valuemax: Defines the maximum allowed value for a range widget.
  • aria-valuemin: Defines the minimum allowed value for a range widget.
  • aria-valuenow: Defines the current value for a range widget.
  • aria-valuetext: Defines the human-readable text of aria-valuenow.

Live Region Attributes

  • aria-busy: Indicates whether an element is being updated.
  • aria-live: Indicates that an element will be updated, and describes the types of updates the user agents, assistive technologies, and users should expect.
  • aria-relevant: Indicates what types of changes in the live region are relevant.
  • aria-atomic: Indicates whether the entire region or only parts of it should be announced by screen readers when the content changes.

Drag-and-Drop Attributes

  • aria-dropeffect: Indicates what functions can be performed when the dragged object is released.
  • aria-grabbed: Indicates the current “grabbed” state of an element, used in drag-and-drop operations.

Relationship Attributes

  • aria-activedescendant: Identifies the currently active descendant of a composite widget.
  • aria-colcount: Defines the total number of columns in a table, grid, or treegrid.
  • aria-colindex: Defines an element’s column index or position with respect to the total number of columns.
  • aria-colspan: Defines the number of columns spanned by a cell or gridcell within a table, grid, or treegrid.
  • aria-controls: Identifies the element(s) controlled by the current element.
  • aria-describedby: Points to the ID of one or more elements that describe the current element.
  • aria-description: Defines a description of an object.
  • aria-details: Identifies the element that provides a detailed, extended description for an object.
  • aria-errormessage: Identifies the element that provides an error message for an object.
  • aria-flowto: Identifies the next element in an alternate reading order of content.
  • aria-labelledby: Points to the ID of one or more elements that label the current element.
  • aria-owns: Indicates that an element is parent to one or more elements in the DOM hierarchy.
  • aria-posinset: Defines an element’s position in a set of items.
  • aria-rowcount: Defines the total number of rows in a table, grid, or treegrid.
  • aria-rowindex: Defines an element’s row index or position with respect to the total number of rows.
  • aria-rowspan: Defines the number of rows spanned by a cell or gridcell within a table, grid, or treegrid.
  • aria-setsize: Defines the number of items in a set.

Global ARIA Attributes

These attributes apply to all HTML elements regardless of whether an ARIA role is applied:

  • aria-atomic
  • aria-busy
  • aria-controls
  • aria-current
  • aria-describedby
  • aria-description
  • aria-details
  • aria-disabled
  • aria-dropeffect
  • aria-errormessage
  • aria-flowto
  • aria-grabbed
  • aria-haspopup
  • aria-hidden
  • aria-invalid
  • aria-keyshortcuts
  • aria-label
  • aria-labelledby
  • aria-live
  • aria-owns
  • aria-relevant
  • aria-roledescription

Best Practices for Using ARIA

While ARIA is powerful, it should be used thoughtfully and strategically. Here are some best practices:

  • Use Native HTML Elements When Possible: Often, native HTML elements provide the necessary accessibility features without additional ARIA attributes. Use ARIA only when there is no native HTML alternative.
  • Don’t Change Native Semantics Unless Absolutely Necessary: Avoid using ARIA to change the standard semantics of native elements, as it can confuse screen reader users.
  • Ensure Dynamic Content Accessibility: Use ARIA to make dynamic content accessible. For instance, ARIA roles can inform users of updates to content that changes dynamically.
  • Test with Assistive Technologies: Regularly test your use of ARIA with screen readers and other assistive technologies to ensure that it enhances, rather than complicates, the user experience.


ARIA attributes are indispensable for creating an inclusive and accessible digital environment. This blog has introduced the concept and provided an overview of different ARIA attributes. In upcoming posts, we will delve deeper into specific attributes and their practical applications. Stay tuned to learn more about making your web content truly accessible to everyone.

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