ARIA Hackathon Summary

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The original idea of the ARIA Hackathon was to get developers of jQuery UI and experts for ARIA together in one room, connect them, share knowledge and work on the accessibility of jQuery UI.

Meeting at the Inclusive Design Research Centre (IDRC) of OCAD University in Toronto, several members of the jQuery UI team (Richard, Scott, Dan, Jörn), various developers at OCAD (Michelle, Justin, Antranig, Harris), around Toronto (Ates, George, Darcy) and further away (Mat from Boston, Candace and William from the University of Washington and Jerry from the University of Illinois) learned a ton about testing and developing for screenreader users, about the ARIA standard and its process, as well as Mozilla’s efforts on accessibility.

  • Colin Clark gave an overview of the work of the IDRC team, including the Fluid project which makes use of jQuery UI.
  • Hans Hillen provided a lot of very practical insight on testing and developing with JAWS and NVDA and the ARIA spec and DHTML styleguide.
  • Jospeh Scheuhammer, heavily involved in the ARIA standards process, gave insight on how the process works like, how to provide feedback and which documents can and should be used along with the main specification.
  • David Bolter provided an overview of Mozilla’s efforts on Firefox accessibility, also covering the state and future of Firefox Mobile.
  • Finally Jennison Asuncion demonstrated usage of JAWS on regular websites, giving the spectators (or rather, listeners) a much better understanding of how a blind user actually uses a screenreader. He’s also an incredibly nice guy.

In a group discussion, we defined latest NVDA on latest Firefox as the supported setup for ARIA and acccessiblity, while also testing with JAWS on Windows and VoiceOver on OSX. We will accept reasonable patches for other or older ATs if the code is maintainable and doesn’t break ARIA in spec-conforming ATs.

After the two days of the main event, Hans and Jörn stayed till Friday to work on the keyboard and accessibility implementation of multiple jQuery UI widgets. Jörn also had meetings with Justin and Michelle at OCAD and Bobby and David at Mozilla to recruit them for jQuery UI and the Testing subteam (QUnit, TestSwarm). There is a lot of mutual interest that should lead to a lot more collaboration going forward.

Special thanks go out to IDRC and Colin Clark for hosting the event and Mozilla and David Bolter for funding some of the travel and lodging expenses.

For a mostly complete list of attendees (and links to Twitter and GitHub profiles) and various resources gathered during the event, visit the events page on our planning wiki.

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