aria-owns

The aria-owns attribute identifies an element (or elements) in order to define a visual, functional, or contextual relationship between a parent and its child elements when the DOM hierarchy cannot be used to represent the relationship.

Description

Every element is the parent, sibling, or child of another element. The document object, made up of HTML elements and text nodes, is the basis of the DOM tree. The Accessibility Object Model (AOM) relies on a well-built DOM to enable assistive technologies to relay meaningful information about a document's contents to users.

There are circumstances where the layout that appears on screen may differ from the underlying DOM structure due to the ability of JavaScript to alter content and CSS to alter layout. When this is the case, the aria-owns attribute can be used to recreate a meaningful relationship for assistive technology that consumes the DOM.

When elements appear to be related visually but are not associated in the DOM, the aria-owns attribute enables creating the relationship that appears on screen in the accessibility layer for use by assistive technology. The only reason to include aria-owns is to expose a parent/child contextual relationship to assistive technology when the DOM's construction can't provide that relationship.

An "owning element" is any DOM ancestor of an element. If an element visually, functionally, or contextually appears to "own" (be an ancestor of) an element, but isn't actually an ancestor the element in the DOM, include the aria-owns to create that relationship. Add the attribute to the owning element with reference to the non-child owned element (or elements) to tell assistive technology that an element should be treated as a child.

Referencing the ID of one or more elements allows any element to "own" any other element with an aria-owns declaration. The value of the aria-owns attribute is a space-separated ID reference list that references the IDs of one or more elements in the document.

Note: An "owned" element is any DOM descendant of the element, any element specified as a child via aria-owns, or any DOM descendant of the owned child. The aria-owns-owned element should be an element that belongs to a separate parent tree in the DOM but should be treated as a child of the current element.

Do not use aria-owns as a replacement for the DOM hierarchy. If the relationship is represented in the DOM, do not use aria-owns.

A child element is owned by it's DOM parent by default: in this case, aria-owns should not be used. Avoid using the aria-owns attribute to rearrange existing child elements into a different order.

When using aria-owns, make sure you manage focus order. Ensure the visual focus order matches this assistive technology reading order.

An example of when to use aria-owns includes pop-up sub-menus that visually appear positioned near a parent menu, but cannot be nested in the DOM within the parent menu because it would affect the visual presentation. In this case, use aria-owns to present the sub-menu as a child of the parent menu to a screen reader.

Note: The aria-owns attribute should only be used when the parent/child relationship cannot be determined from the DOM.

If an element has both aria-owns and DOM children, the order of the child elements:

  1. The actual DOM children first,
  2. Then the elements referenced in aria-owns.

This order can be changed by including the ID references to the actual DOM children in the aria-owns value.

The order property, part of flex or grid layouts, can be used to change the order of flex and grid items making them appear in a different order from their order in the source document, creating a divergence of the logical order of elements. While it may be tempting to order the accessibility layer to match order changes created with the CSS order property, avoiding both the order property and the aria-owns attribute is the best option.

Make sure your owned elements have only one owner. Do not specify the id of an element in more than one other element's aria-owns attribute. An element can have only one owner.

Warning: At the time of this writing, aria-owns is not supported on MacOS and iOS with VoiceOver.

Values

id list

Space separated list of one or more ID values referencing the elements being owned by the current element

Associated roles

Used in ALL roles.

Specifications

Specification
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)
# aria-owns

See Also