AxsJAX Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

1 Introduction To AxsJAX

1.1 What Is AxsJAX?

Web 2.0 applications are powered by AJAX --- Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. AxsJAX leverages AJAX techniques to inject accessibility support into Web 2.0 applications.

1.2 What New Opportunities Does AxsJAX Open Up?

AJAX techniques have helped Web developers create live applications within Web browsers. The AxsJAX framework helps inject accessibility features into these applications so that users of adaptive technologies such as screen readers and self-voicing browsers experience the same level of interactivity that is now taken for granted by users of Web 2.0 applications.

1.3 What Are Its Accessibility Goals?

Our accessibility goals include but are not limited to:

1.4 AxsJAX Uses JavaScript --- Isn't That Inaccessible?

Web applications that use JavaScript have traditionally proven an access barrier to screen reader users for the following reasons:

A set of W3C specifications collectively refered to as W3C ARIA is addressing these issues. Though AJAX applications will continue to remain unusable from legacy browsers like lynx, there is no reason why they should remain forever inaccessible to users of adaptive technologies.

Finally, JavaScript in the browser is a powerful mechanism that has enabled us to turn the Web from a world of static documents to a platform for deploying dynamic end-user applications. The primary goal of the AxsJAX framework is to leverage these same advantages presented by JavaScript in the browser to create flexible, powerful accessibility solutions.

1.5 Is AxsJAX Specific To Google Applications?

We are open-sourcing the AxsJAX framework early in its development to foster a healthy community around the concept of access-enabling Web applications by injecting accessibility enhancements via JavaScript.

AxsJAX initially targets Google applications. As we discover design patterns that work, we are refactoring these into common modules that foster code reuse. Notice that these common modules are not Google specific, and can be leveraged to inject accessibility enhancements to any application deployed on the Web.

1.6 What Are The Long-term Goals For AxsJAX?

The long-term goals of AxsJAX will be largely end-user driven. This initial release hints at the type of end-user benefits that can be enabled via such a framework. Our goal is to create a healthy community built on an open framework for enhancing the accessibility of Web 2.0 applications.

1.7 How Is AxsJAX Pronounced?

AxsJAX is pronounced Access Jax to rhyme with AJAX.

2 AxsJAX Technical Overview

2.1 What Prerequisites Does AxsJAX Assume?

AxsJAX injects accessibility enhancements as defined by W3C ARIA. The prerequisites for experiencing its benefits include:

  1. A modern Web browser like Firefox 2.0 or later that supports W3C ARIA.
  2. Adaptive technologies that respond correctly to the accessibility enhancements introduced by W3C ARIA.
  3. In particular, many of the enhancements injected by AxsJAX depend on support for live regions a feature that enables adaptive technologies like screen readers and self-voicing browsers deal correctly with asynchronous updates to portions of a Web page.

2.2 How Does AxsJAX Leverage W3C ARIA?

W3C ARIA is a collection of specifications that is presently under development at the W3C. Early support for W3C ARIA is available in Firefox 2.0, and its features are beginning to be leveraged by newer versions of screen readers.

W3C ARIA works by enhancing the DOM with accessibility specific properties. The AxsJAX framework enables the injection of such DOM properties into existing Web applications via JavaScript. It provides a light-weight yet flexibile mechanism for experimenting with various design patterns for enhancing the accessibility of AJAX applications.

2.3 What Google Applications Does It Presently Enhance?

2.4 How Does AxsJAX Help Screen Reader Vendors?

The set of specifications collectively known as W3C ARIA is still under active development. Applications that have been enhanced via AxsJAX provide real-life examples for testing ARIA support within new versions of screen readers. Thus, whereas individual test-suites help screen reader developers test support for a given feature, AxsJAX enabled applications provide live examples for carrying out end-to-end testing.

2.5 How Does AxsJAX Help The Evolution Of Access Standards?

W3C ARIA is still under active development. By access-enabling complete applications, AxsJAX helps in the development of the W3C ARIA specifications by discovering what works and by identifying gaps that need to be filled.

2.6 How Does AxsJAX Inject Accessibility?

The AxsJAX framework can inject accessibility enhancements into existing Web 2.0 applications using any of several standard Web techniques:

In particular, the accessibility enhancements provided by AxsJAX are not tied to any single injection technique, and we are looking to the Open Source community to come up with additional innovative means for performing such enhancements.

2.7 How Can Web Developers Experience AxsJAX Enhancements?

The open source Fire Vox extension to Firefox provides an ideal tool for Web developers who may not necessarily have commercial screen readers available for testing. Fire Vox is a cross-platform self-voicing extension to Firefox that includes early support for most of the leading edge features of W3C ARIA.

Author: T.V. Raman, Charles L. Chen <,>

Date: 2007/10/30 14:35:13