WAI-ARIA Roles

ARIA roles provide semantic meaning to content, allowing screen readers and other tools to present and support interaction with object in a way that is consistent with user expectations of that type of object. ARIA roles can be used to describe elements that don't natively exist in HTML or exist but don't yet have full browser support.

By default, many semantic elements in HTML have a role; for example, <input type="radio"> has the "radio" role. Non-semantic elements in HTML do not have a role; <div> and <span> without added semantics return null. The role attribute can provide semantics.

ARIA roles are added to HTML elements using role="role type", where role type is the name of a role in the ARIA specification. Some roles require the inclusion of associated ARIA states or properties; others are only valid in association with other roles.

For example, <ul role="tabpanel"> will be announced as a 'tab panel' by screen readers. However, if the tab panel doesn't have nested tabs, the element with the tabpanel role is not in fact a tab panel and accessibility has actually been negatively impacted.

The ARIA states and properties associated with each role are included in the role's pages, with each attribute also having a dedicated page.

ARIA role types

There are 6 categories of ARIA roles:

1. Document structure roles

Document Structure roles are used to provide a structural description for a section of content. Most of these roles should no longer be used as browsers now support semantic HTML element with the same meaning. The roles without HTML equivalents, such as presentation, toolbar and tooltip roles, provide information on the document structure to assistive technologies such as screen readers as equivalent native HTML tags are not available.

For most document structure roles, semantic HTML equivalent elements are available and supported. Avoid using:

These and associationlist, associationlistitemkey, associationlistitemvalue, blockquote, caption, code, deletion, emphasis, insertion, paragraph, strong, subscript, superscript, and time are included for completeness, but in most cases are rarely, if ever, useful.

2. Widget roles

The various widget role are used to define common interactive patterns. Similar to the document structure roles, some of these roles duplicate the semantics of native HTML elements that are well supported, and should not be used. The difference between the two lists is that, generally, the widget roles require JavaScript interaction and the document structure roles don't necessarily.

Avoid using button, checkbox, gridcell, link, menuitem, menuitemcheckbox, menuitemradio, option, progressbar, radio, and textbox, which we've included for completeness. For most, semantic equivalents with accessible interactivity are available and supported. See the individual role documentation for more information.

Composite widget roles

Avoid using grid, listbox, and radiogroup, which we've included for completeness. See the individual role documentation for more information.

Note that there is also a widget role (role="widget"), which is an abstract role and not in the widget role category.

3. Landmark roles

Landmark roles provide a way to identify the organization and structure of a web page. By classifying and labeling sections of a page, structural information conveyed visually through layout is represented programmatically. Screen readers use landmark roles to provide keyboard navigation to important sections of a page. Use these sparingly. Too many landmark roles create "noise" in screen readers, making it difficult to understand the overall layout of the page.

4. Live region roles

Live Region roles are used to define elements with content that will be dynamically changed. Sighted users can see dynamic changes when they are visually noticeable. These roles help low vision and blind users know if content has been updated. Assistive technologies, like screen readers, can be made to announce dynamic content changes:

5. Window roles

Window roles define sub-windows to the main document window, within the same window, such as pop up modal dialogs:

6. Abstract roles

Abstract roles are only intended for use by browsers to help organize and streamline a document. They should not be used by developers writing HTML markup. Doing so will not result in any meaningful information being conveyed to assistive technologies or to users.

Avoid using command, composite, input, landmark, range, roletype, section, sectionhead, select, structure, widget,and window.

Note: Don't use abstract roles in your sites and applications. They are for use by browsers. They are included for reference only.

Warning: "Abstract roles are used for the ontology. Authors MUST NOT use abstract roles in content." - The WAI-ARIA specification

Roles defined on MDN

The following are the reference pages covering the WAI-ARIA roles discussed on MDN.

ARIA: alert role

The alert role is for important, and usually time-sensitive, information. The alert is a type of status processed as an atomic live region.

ARIA: alertdialog role

The alertdialog role is to be used on modal alert dialogs that interrupt a user's workflow to communicate an important message and require a response.

ARIA: application role

The application role indicates to assistive technologies that an element and all of its children should be treated similar to a desktop application, and no traditional HTML interpretation techniques should be used. This role should only be used to define very dynamic and desktop-like web applications. Most mobile and desktop web apps are not considered applications for this purpose.

ARIA: article role

The article role indicates a section of a page that could easily stand on its own on a page, in a document, or on a website. It is usually set on related content items such as comments, forum posts, newspaper articles or other items grouped together on one page.

ARIA: banner role

The banner role is for defining a global site header, which usually includes a logo, company name, search feature, and possibly the global navigation or a slogan. It is generally located at the top of the page.

ARIA: button role

The button role is for clickable elements that trigger a response when activated by the user. Adding role="button" tells the screen reader the element is a button, but provides no button functionality. Use button or input with type="button" instead.

ARIA: cell role

The cell value of the ARIA role attribute identifies an element as being a cell in a tabular container that does not contain column or row header information. To be supported, the cell must be nested in an element with the role of row.

ARIA: checkbox role

The checkbox role is for checkable interactive controls. Elements containing role="checkbox" must also include the aria-checked attribute to expose the checkbox's state to assistive technology.

ARIA: columnheader role

The columnheader value of the ARIA role attribute identifies an element as being a cell in a row contains header information for a column, similar to the native th element with column scope.

ARIA: combobox role

The combobox role identifies an element as an input that controls another element, such as a listbox or grid, that can dynamically pop up to help the user set the value of that input.

ARIA: command role

The command role defines a widget that performs an action but does not receive input data.

ARIA: comment role

The comment landmark role semantically denotes a comment/reaction to some content on the page, or to a previous comment.

ARIA: complementary role

The complementary landmark role is used to designate a supporting section that relates to the main content, yet can stand alone when separated. These sections are frequently presented as sidebars or call-out boxes. If possible, use the HTML <aside> element instead.

ARIA: composite role

The composite abstract role indicates a widget that may contain navigable descendants or owned children.

ARIA: contentinfo role

The contentinfo role defines a footer, containing identifying information such as copyright information, navigation links, and privacy statements, found on every document within a site. This section is commonly called a footer.

ARIA: definition role

The definition ARIA role indicates the element is a definition of a term or concept.

ARIA: dialog role

The dialog role is used to mark up an HTML based application dialog or window that separates content or UI from the rest of the web application or page. Dialogs are generally placed on top of the rest of the page content using an overlay. Dialogs can be either non-modal (it's still possible to interact with content outside of the dialog) or modal (only the content in the dialog can be interacted with).

ARIA: directory role

The directory role was for a list of references to members of a group, such as a static table of contents.

ARIA: document role

The document role is for focusable content within complex composite widgets or applications for which assistive technologies can switch reading context back to a reading mode.

ARIA: document structural roles

ARIA document-structure roles are used to provide a structural description for a section of content.

ARIA: feed role

A feed is a dynamic scrollable list of articles in which articles are added to or removed from either end of the list as the user scrolls. A feed enables screen readers to use the browse mode reading cursor to both read and scroll through a stream of rich content that may continue scrolling infinitely by loading more content as the user reads.

ARIA: figure role

The ARIA figure role can be used to identify a figure inside page content where appropriate semantics do not already exist. A figure is generally considered to be one or more images, code snippets, or other content that puts across information in a different way to a regular flow of text.

ARIA: form role

The form role can be used to identify a group of elements on a page that provide equivalent functionality to an HTML form.

ARIA: generic role

The generic role creates a nameless container element which has no semantic meaning on its own.

ARIA: grid role

The grid role is for a widget that contains one or more rows of cells. The position of each cell is significant and can be focused using keyboard input.

ARIA: gridcell role

The gridcell role is used to make a cell in a grid or treegrid. It is intended to mimic the functionality of the HTML td element for table-style grouping of information.

ARIA: group role

The group role identifies a set of user interface objects that is not intended to be included in a page summary or table of contents by assistive technologies.

ARIA: heading role

The heading role defines this element as a heading to a page or section, with the aria-level attribute providing for more structure.

ARIA: img role

The ARIA img role can be used to identify multiple elements inside page content that should be considered as a single image. These elements could be images, code snippets, text, emojis, or other content that can be combined to deliver information in a visual manner.

ARIA: input role

The input abstract role is a generic type of widget that allows user input.

ARIA: landmark role

A landmark is an important subsection of a page. The landmark role is an abstract superclass for the aria role values for sections of content that are important enough that users will likely want to be able to navigate directly to them.

A link widget provides an interactive reference to a resource. The target resource can be either external or local; i.e., either outside or within the current page or application.

ARIA: list role

The ARIA list role can be used to identify a list of items. It is normally used in conjunction with the listitem role, which is used to identify a list item contained inside the list.

ARIA: listbox role

The listbox role is used for lists from which a user may select one or more items which are static and, unlike HTML select elements, may contain images.

ARIA: listitem role

The ARIA listitem role can be used to identify an item inside a list of items. It is normally used in conjunction with the list role, which is used to identify a list container.

ARIA: log role

The log role is used to identify an element that creates a live region where new information is added in a meaningful order and old information may disappear.

ARIA: main role

The main landmark role is used to indicate the primary content of a document. The main content area consists of content that is directly related to or expands upon the central topic of a document, or the main function of an application.

ARIA: mark role

The mark role denotes content which is marked or highlighted for reference or notation purposes, due to the content's relevance in the enclosing context.

ARIA: marquee role

A marquee is a type of live region containing non-essential information which changes frequently.

ARIA: math role

The math role indicates that the content represents a mathematical expression.

ARIA: menu role

The menu role is a type of composite widget that offers a list of choices to the user.

ARIA: menubar role

A menubar is a presentation of menu that usually remains visible and is usually presented horizontally.

ARIA: menuitem role

The menuitem role indicates the element is an option in a set of choices contained by a menu or menubar.

ARIA: menuitemcheckbox role

A menuitemcheckbox is a menuitem with a checkable state whose possible values are true, false, or mixed.

ARIA: menuitemradio role

A menuitemradio is checkable menuitem in a set of elements with the same role, only one of which can be checked at a time.

ARIA: meter role

The meter role is used to identify an element being used as a meter.

ARIA: navigation Role

The navigation role is used to identify major groups of links used for navigating through a website or page content.

ARIA: none role

The none role is a synonym for the presentation role; they both remove an element's implicit ARIA semantics from being exposed to the accessibility tree.

ARIA: note role

A note role suggests a section whose content is parenthetic or ancillary to the main content.

ARIA: option role

The option role is used for selectable items in a listbox.

ARIA: presentation role

The presentation role and its synonym none remove an element's implicit ARIA semantics from being exposed to the accessibility tree.

ARIA: progressbar role

The progressbar role defines an element that displays the progress status for tasks that take a long time.

ARIA: radio role

The radio role is one of a group of checkable buttons, in a radiogroup, where no more than one of the buttons can be checked at a time.

aria: radiogroup role

The radiogroup role is a group of radio buttons.

ARIA: range role

The range abstract role is a generic type of structure role representing a range of values.

ARIA: region role

The region role is used to identify document areas the author deems significant. It is a generic landmark available to aid in navigation when none of the other landmark roles are appropriate.

ARIA: roletype role

The roletype role, an abstract role, is the base role from which all other ARIA roles inherit.

ARIA: row role

An element with role="row" is a row of cells within a tabular structure. A row contains one or more cells, grid cells or column headers, and possibly a row header, within a grid, table or treegrid, and optionally within a rowgroup.

ARIA: rowgroup role

An element with role="rowgroup" is a group of rows within a tabular structure. A rowgroup contains one or more rows of cells, grid cells, column headers, or row headers within a grid, table or treegrid.

ARIA: rowheader role

An element with role="rowheader" is a cell containing header information for a row within a tabular structure of a grid, table or treegrid.

ARIA: scrollbar role

A scrollbar is a graphical object that controls the scrolling of content within a viewing area.

ARIA: search role

The search role is used to identify the search functionality; the section of the page used to search the page, site, or collection of sites.

ARIA: searchbox role

The searchbox role indicates an element is a type of textbox intended for specifying search criteria.

ARIA: section role

The section role, an abstract role, is superclass role for renderable structural containment components.

ARIA: sectionhead role

The sectionhead role, an abstract role, is superclass role for labels or summaries of the topic of its related section.

ARIA: select role

The select role, an abstract role, is superclass role for form widgets that allows the user to make selections from a set of choices.

ARIA: separator role

The separator role indicates the element is a divider that separates and distinguishes sections of content or groups of menuitems. The implicit ARIA role the native thematic break hr element is separator.

ARIA: slider role

The slider role defines an input where the user selects a value from within a given range.

ARIA: spinbutton role

The spinbutton role defines a type of range that expects the user to select a value from among discrete choices.

ARIA: status role

The status role defines a live region containing advisory information for the user that is not important enough to be an alert.

ARIA: structure role

The structure role is for document structural elements.

ARIA: suggestion role

The suggestion landmark role semantically denotes a single proposed change to an editable document. This should be used on an element that wraps an element with an insertion role, and one with a deletion role.

ARIA: switch role

The ARIA switch role is functionally identical to the checkbox role, except that instead of representing "checked" and "unchecked" states, which are fairly generic in meaning, the switch role represents the states "on" and "off."

ARIA: tab role

The ARIA tab role indicates an interactive element inside a tablist that, when activated, displays its associated tabpanel.

ARIA: table role

The table value of the ARIA role attribute identifies the element containing the role as having a non-interactive table structure containing data arranged in rows and columns, similar to the native table HTML element.

ARIA: tablist role

The tablist role identifies the element that serves as the container for a set of tabs. The tab content are referred to as tabpanel elements.

ARIA: tabpanel role

The ARIA tabpanel is a container for the resources of layered content associated with a tab.

ARIA: term role

The term role can be used for a word or phrase with an optional corresponding definition.

ARIA: textbox role

The textbox role is used to identify an element that allows the input of free-form text. Whenever possible, rather than using this role, use an input element with type="text", for single-line input, or a textarea element for multi-line input.

ARIA: timer role

The timer role indicates to assistive technologies that an element is a numerical counter listing the amount of elapsed time from a starting point or the remaining time until an end point. Assistive technologies will not announce updates to a timer as it has an implicit aria-live value of off.

ARIA: toolbar role

The toolbar role defines the containing element as a collection of commonly used function buttons or controls represented in a compact visual form.

ARIA: tooltip role

A tooltip is a contextual text bubble that displays a description for an element that appears on pointer hover or keyboard focus.

ARIA: tree role

A tree is a widget that allows the user to select one or more items from a hierarchically organized collection.

ARIA: treegrid role

The treegrid role identifies an element as being grid whose rows can be expanded and collapsed in the same manner as for a tree.

ARIA: treeitem role

A treeitem is an item in a tree.

ARIA: widget role

The widget role, an abstract role, is an interactive component of a graphical user interface (GUI).

ARIA: window role

The window role defines a browser or app window.

See also