Understanding ARIA Click Button to Show or Hide Content Example Code

Understanding ARIA

ARIA stands for "Accessible Rich Internet Applications". Also known as the WAI-ARIA standard, it is a standard developed to help coders to provide proper semantics for custom widgets and to make them accessible, usable, and interoperable with assistive technologies for people with disabilities. To be clear, ARIA doesn't add functionality to an object. It adds roles and states that assist in identifying the intent and state of an object. However, usually JavaScript code is still needed to add any dynamic action to that object. I state this clearly at the top of this post because at first, I was under the impression that ARIA also added certain functionalities to HTML objects and was seriously disappointed when I found out otherwise. For example, when ARIA is used on a button that hides and shows content in a div, it only defines the roles and states of the button and corresponding div. JavaScript is still needed to do that work of hiding and showing the div in question.

Example Code

Here is an example of correctly implementing ARIA controls when making a button that hides and shows a div on the click of your mouse. It also binds the space bar and enter key to the div as well, so pressing either of those keys toggles the visibility of the div as well. Without any further ado, the code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<meta charset="UTF-8" />
<title>Aria Examples</title>
<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.2.1/jquery.min.js"></script>

<style>
div.topic {
    display: none;
    margin-bottom: 1em;
    padding: .25em;
    border: black thin solid;
    background-color: #EEEEFF;
    width: 40em;
}
</style>
</head>
<body>

<p class="button">
    <button id="button1" class="buttonControl" aria-controls="t1" aria-expanded="false"><span>Show</span> Topic 1</button>
</p>

<div id="t1" class="topic" role="region" tabindex="-1" >
    Topic 1 is all about being Topic 1 and may or may not have anything to do with other topics.
</div>

<script>
$(document).ready(function() {

   var hs1 = new hideShow('button1');
  // var hs2 = new hideShow('button2');
  // var hs3 = new hideShow('button3');
  // var hs4 = new hideShow('button4');
 
}); // end ready()

//
// function hideShow() is the constructor for a hideShow widget. it accepts the html ID of
// an element to attach to.
//
// @param(id string) id is the html ID of the element to attach to
//
// @return N/A
//
function hideShow(id) {

   this.$id = $('#' + id);
   this.$region = $('#' + this.$id.attr('aria-controls'));

   this.keys = {
               enter: 13,
               space: 32
               };

   this.toggleSpeed = 100;

   // bind handlers
   this.bindHandlers();

} // end hidShow() constructor

//
// Function bindHandlers() is a member function to bind event handlers to the hideShow region
//
// return N/A
//
hideShow.prototype.bindHandlers = function() {

   var thisObj = this;

   this.$id.click(function(e) {

      thisObj.toggleRegion();

      e.stopPropagation();
      return false;
   });
}

//
// Function toggleRegion() is a member function to toggle the display of the hideShow region
//
// return N/A
//
hideShow.prototype.toggleRegion = function() {

      var thisObj = this;

    // toggle the region
    this.$region.slideToggle(this.toggleSpeed, function() {

      if ($(this).attr('aria-expanded') == 'false') { // region is collapsed

        // update the aria-expanded attribute of the region
        $(this).attr('aria-expanded', 'true');

        // move focus to the region
        $(this).focus();

        // update the button label
        thisObj.$id.find('span').html('Hide');

      }
      else { // region is expanded

        // update the aria-expanded attribute of the region
        $(this).attr('aria-expanded', 'false');

        // update the button label
        thisObj.$id.find('span').html('Show');
      }
    });

} // end toggleRegion()
</script>
</body>
</html>

Thank you oaa-accessibility.org for providing me with enough knowledge to create and use the above example! They have the best example code for ARIA usage that I could find online after many Google searches. See their complete list of example ARIA examples at http://oaa-accessibility.org/

ARIA and WordPress

I noticed ARIA controls for the first time in the header.php file for my WordPress theme. I was trying to fix a mobile navigation menu and thought couldn't find the code that makes the menu appear on mobile devices when the button is clicked and thought ARIA had something to do with it. I was basically wrong. ARIA code was only present to mark the navigation menu and make it's role and states readily accessible. It is after all an accessibility feature.

Summary

So ARIA and the WAI-ARIA standard are used to enable more accessible HTML markup for disabled people. While it is a great initiative, it doesn't add much dynamic functionality to your HTML objects, JavaScript is still needed for that. ARIA combined with HTML, CSS and JavaScript can be used to make accessible web pages more user-friendly.

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