Experimenting with Landmark Roles on the Clear Helper Home Page

Today, I experimented with placing WAI-ARAI landmark roles into the “Clear Helper” home page.   For users of screen readers, landmarks provide a method to identify standard content sections of Web pages in a consistent way.

I followed the instructions on “Using WAI ARIA Landmark Roles” by Steve Faulkner of  The Paciello Group Blog.  I inserted the following landmark roles: banner, navigation (not currently in use), main, complementary and contentinfo.  Per Mr. Faulkner’s suggestion, I viewed the results using The Juicy Studio Accessibility Toolbar document landmarks feature.  All went well.  The Juicy Studio tool redisplayed the page, showing borders around each delineated landmark section.

Among other uses, landmarks are intended to replace “skip-to-content” links now found on many accessible Web sites.  Even so, I intend to use such links on the “Clear Helper” Web site, essentially for two reasons.  One is that people who access Web sites via a keyboard, and who are not screen reader users, find such links to be useful.  The other is that though JAWS (as of version 10), the most popular screen reader, supports landmarks, their adoption and use by the community has been slow.  Results from a recent survey of screen reader users indicated that “42% of respondents did not know that ARIA landmark functionality even exists”.

Smith, J. (2009-10-29). Screen Reader User Survey Results. WebAIM Blog. Retrieved from http://webaim.org/blog/screen-reader-user-survey-results/

Do landmarks assist people with cognitive disabilities?  I am sure they could for those who also have a visual disability.  An important point to keep in mind about the design of the future “Clear Helper” Web site is that, yes, I will be using best practices of accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities; but I also will be adhering to the latest general accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0).