Custom controls have ARIA roles

Check that all custom controls have an appropriate role and any required ARIA attributes that confer their properties and state. For example, a custom checkbox needs a role="checkbox" and aria-checked="true|false" to properly convey its state. See the Introduction to ARIA for a general overview of how ARIA can provide missing semantics for custom controls.

How to manually test

To check that all custom interactive controls have appropriate ARIA roles, test the page using either the Chrome DevTools accessibility pane or a screen reader. JAWS and NVDA are two of the more popular screen readers for Windows. VoiceOver is the screen reader built into MacOS.

Using CSS, it's possible to style the <div> and <button> elements so they convey the same visual affordances, but the two experiences are very different when using a screen reader. A <div> is just a generic grouping element, so a screen reader only announces the text content of the <div>. The <button> is announced as a "button," a much stronger signal to the user that it's something they can interact with. See also Semantics and screen readers.

How to fix

The simplest and often best solution to this problem is to avoid custom interactive controls altogether. For example, replace a <div> that's acting like a button with an actual <button>.

If you must keep the <div>, then add role="button" and aria-pressed="false" to the <div>.

Now screen readers will announce the role and interactive state for the <div>.

Why this matters

The only way to truly understand how assistive technology users experience your content is to check that content yourself using a screen reader. Using a screen reader first hand will give you a clear understanding of how your content is labeled, and if there are any obstructions to assistive technology navigation. If you're unfamiliar with how semantic markup gets interpreted by assistive technology, see the Introduction to Semantics for a refresher.

See also How to Do an Accessibility Review.


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