Contributing WAI-ARIA landmark roles to open source CMS themes

Sometime new technology suffers from a chicken and egg problem. For example, if no websites start using WAI-ARIA there will be few incentives for manufacturers of assistive technology or browsers to include support in their products.

At the European Accessibility Forum in Frankfurt (eminently organised by Namics) I met Steve Faulkner who has done a lot of research on  WAI-ARIA (see Using WAI ARIA Landmark Roles). Although the specification isn’t finalized yet there are many advantages to WAI-ARIA and browser support is increasing.

With the help of Steve, I submitted a minor patch for the default WordPress theme that adds ARIA landmark roles. I believe that a simple thing like this would make the web a better place for a lot of people as well as making web development easier.

How to add WAI-ARIA landmark roles

For an overview of methods to work with landmark roles in existing HTML see Patterns for WAI-ARIA landmark roles in existing HTML.

How to check WAI-ARIA landmark roles

If you want to start working on implementing landmark roles in a theme, check out Juicy Studio’s Web Accessibility Toolbar Extension for Firefox or the YAML debug tool bookmarklet. These will aid you in checking that the markup you add is correct.

Adopt your favorite CMS

What other content management systems would you like to see support WAI-ARIA landmark roles? If more people could help to create patches adoption would increase rapidly.

Add your suggestions below (or better, create a patch and send to the developers).

Content management systems

Wiki tools

Forum applications

Layout generators

Hosted services

Web frameworks

  • Django


  1. Tomas Caspers says at 2009-03-29 22:03:

    Hi Peter,
    here’s the debug tool that I mentioned to you and Steve over breakfast in Frankfurt: – the YAML framework itself doesn’t contain any ARIA landmarks (yet), but the bookmarklet can be used to display various roles, aria-describedby, aria-labelledby etc.

  2. steve faulkner says at 2009-03-30 12:03:

    Christian heilmann mentioned to me on sunday the the YUI grid builder now has support for landmark roles.

  3. Mike Gifford says at 2009-03-30 14:03:

    Good post, I have created a small patch for inclusion in Drupal 7 which I hope will be accepted. Simple landmarks are quite easy to add into themes.

    We’ve been discussing this (and other issues) in the Drupal Accessibility Group.

    Thanks again!

  4. steve faulkner says at 2009-03-31 15:03:

    wikis to add to:

  5. Jürg Stuker says at 2009-04-03 14:04:

    Videos of most of the sessions and links to the presentations are found here:

  6. Lars Gunther says at 2009-04-05 17:04:

    I have added a request for ARIA Landmarks to Blogger:

    I also noted that their skip links are broken, since they use display: none to hide them…

  7. Ricky Buchanan says at 2009-04-09 14:04:

    I’m head of the accessibility team at the upcoming hosted journalling service Dreamwidth – we’re only in closed beta at the moment but will be adding WAI-ARIA landmark roles to as much of the site as we can manage as soon as we can. Hopefully much will be done before open beta at the end of the month.

    Dreamwidth is an open source project that’s a code fork of LiveJournal, for those who are interested, and deeply committed to diversity and accessibility. If there’s anybody interested in becoming involved in the accessibility side of it I’ve got invite codes and there’s no such thing as “too many volunteers”! Just email me with details. We’re especially looking for screen reader users to check some specific final details for usability.

  8. Silvia says at 2009-04-18 11:04:

    My favourite wiki for small wiki sites is pmwiki ( – would love ARIA support for that!

  9. Aja says at 2009-04-21 07:04:

    Zen-Cart anyone?

  10. Tine says at 2009-05-05 20:05:

    What about Confluence WIKI? Does anybody know?

  11. Peter Krantz says at 2009-05-05 22:05:

    Tine, Confluence is not an open source project so it isn’t possible to download the source code and contribute a patch for it.

  12. Christophe Strobbe says at 2009-06-18 11:06:

    Plone doesn’t seem to know WAI-ARIA (a search for WAI-ARIA or ARIA generates no hits).

    I created a ticket for a feature request:

  13. Christophe Strobbe says at 2009-06-24 18:06:

    The open-source CMS Alfresco has outdated accessibility documentation and an old bug/feature request regarding WCAG 1.0 and Section 5.8 conformance. On the other hand, the QA test plan mentions WCAG 2.0 and WAI-ARIA, so I don’t know where they stand with regard to web accessibility. I haven’t found a bug or feature request regarding WAI-ARIA (and you probably need to register before you can submit one).

  14. Christophe Strobbe says at 2009-07-02 18:07:

    You can vote for more accessibility in Plone in the current Plone improvement ideas Feedback Forum. If you have a login for Uservoice, you can also add comments (e.g. refer to ticket #9298 for support of WAI-ARIA landmarks).

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