Newsletter 13

14 March, 2014

In this issue

  1. Guides for Academics by Students with Anxiety
  2. ARIA Techniques added to WCAG 2.0
  3. Stat of the week

Guides for Academics by Students with Anxiety

Almost all of us have experienced feelings of anxiety whilst studying, particularly on the day of an exam. But what happens when ordinary feelings of apprehension become more serious and start to impact negatively on daily living?

A University of Melbourne student who suffers from Anxiety explains, "Generally, everyone feels worried or concerned during exams. However, I start getting nervous from the date exam timetables are released, which is a month before. I get more slow in studies during that period and it feels like I will fail all my exams."

"Even though I am prepared and know the subject content, there is always a question in my mind, “What if I fail?” A small problem seems like a catastrophe."

Read more about anxiety in our Guide for Academics by Students with Anxiety

ARIA Techniques added to WCAG 2.0

The W3C's 'Techniques for WCAG 2.0' provide practical guidance on how to make content accessible when presenting information in formats such as HTML, CSS, plain text, Flash and PDF.

On Tuesday an updated version of its Techniques for WCAG 2.0 was released. It focusses on Accessible Rich Internet Applications, better known as WAI-ARIA or just ARIA.

ARIA allows web developers, especially those creating dynamic content using Ajax and JavaScript, to add additional semantic information to web pages and widgets. It also helps expose changes in the presentation of page content, such as the expanding and collapsing of content windows, to assistive technologies. This is particularly helpful to users of screen reader users who otherwise may not know that changes have occurred.

The new ARIA techniques are well thought out and provide solutions for a number of common situations that are difficult or impossible to overcome using HTML alone.

Below is a summary of some of the most useful techniques.

A word of warning though: traditional semantic techniques, such as the use of <h1> - <h6>, <th> and <label> tags, should still be used where possible.

Web forms

  • Invisible labels can be associated with input fields where a visible label can't be used (ARIA14)
  • Multiple text notes can be joined together to form a single label for a form field (ARIA9)
  • Extra instructions on how to complete a form can be associated with input fields using aria-describedby (ARIA1)
  • Identify input errors in form submission (ARIA19)
  • Identify required fields (ARIA2)
  • Identify the role of images when used as buttons (ARIA4)

Data tables

  • Multiple table headings can be joined together to label table cells (ARIA9)


  • Associate a more meaningful description to 'Read more...' links (ARIA7 ARIA8)
  • Add landmarks to identify regions of the page, thereby allowing users of assistive technologies to skip to content (ARIA11)


  • Identify headings without using <h1> - <h6> tags (ARIA12)

A list of all the new ARIA techniques is available here

Some of the techniques have already been used in the development of the new Student Portal mobile app.

Stat of the week

In 2009 only 12% of desktop screen reader users also used a screen reader on a mobile phone or handheld device. Today the percentage has leapt to 82%.

The most popular mobile platforms are iPhone and iPad (65%), Android (16%) and Nokia (14.3%)

Previous Issues

Previous issues of the Web Accessibility Newsletter are available here.

Contact Andrew Normand, Web Accessibility Program Leader
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867