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.


Rowheader is the header cell for a row, establishing a relationship between it and the other cells in the same row.

<div role="table" aria-label="Populations" aria-describedby="country_population_desc">
   <div id="country_population_desc">World Populations by Country</div>
   <div role="rowgroup">
      <div role="row">
         <span role="columnheader" aria-sort="descending">Country</span>
         <span role="columnheader"aria-sort="none">Population</span>
   <div role="rowgroup">
     <div role="row">
        <span role="rowheader">Finland</span>
        <span role="cell">5.5 million</span>
     <div role="row">
        <span role="rowheader">France</span>
        <span role="cell">67 million</span>

It is a structural equivalent to the <th> element with a scope of row, <th scope="row">. Using the native <th> HTML element is strongly encouraged.

To create an ARIA row header, add role="rowheader" to the element. That row header must be nested within a row, which, in turn, is nested within a rowgroup, or directly within a grid, table or treegrid,.

Note: Using the native table elements whenever possible, is strongly encouraged.

Associated WAI-ARIA roles, states, and properties

Context roles


The only context in which you will find a row.  It encompasses a cell or group of cells row, of which only one should be of rowheader type. Ssimilar to the native <tr> HTML element.

Keyboard interactions


Required JavaScript features


Note: The first rule of ARIA use is if you can use a native feature with the semantics and behavior you require already built in, instead of re-purposing an element and adding an ARIA role, state or property to make it accessible, then do so. Employ the HTML <table>, <tr>, <th>, <td>, and other table elements instead of the ARIA table roles whenever possible.


<div role="table" aria-label="Semantic Elements" aria-describedby="semantic_elements_table_desc" aria-rowcount="81">
  <div id="semantic_elements_table_desc">Semantic Elements to use instead of ARIA's roles</div>
  <div role="rowgroup">
     <div role="row">
       <span role="columnheader" aria-sort="none">ARIA Role</span>
       <span role="columnheader" aria-sort="none">Semantic Element</span>
   <div role="rowgroup">
    <div role="row" aria-rowindex="11">
       <span role="rowheader">header</span>
       <span role="cell">h1</span>
    <div role="row"  aria-rowindex="16">
      <span role="rowheader">header</span>
      <span role="cell">h6</span>
    <div role="row"  aria-rowindex="18">
      <span role="rowheader">rowgroup</span>
      <span role="cell">thead</span>
    <div role="row"  aria-rowindex="24">
      <span role="rowheader">term</span>
      <span role="cell">dt</span>

The above is a non-semantic ARIA table with a table header and table body, with five of 81 rows present in the DOM: one within a table header and four rows within the table body. The header row, alone in a header rowgroup, has two column headers. The columns are sortable, but not currently sorted, as indicated by the aria-sort property. The table body is a separate rowgroup, with four rows currently in the DOM. Each data table row has a row header. Because not all the rows are in the DOM, we've included the aria-rowindex property on every row.

Best practices

Only use <table>, <tbody>, <thead>, <tr>, <th>, <td>, and so on for data table structure. You can add these ARIA roles to ensure accessibility should the native semantics of the table be removed, such as with CSS. A relevant use case for all the ARIA table roles is when the CSS's display property overrides the native semantics of a table, such as by display: grid. In this case, you can use the ARIA table roles to add in the semantics.

<table role="table" aria-label="Semantic Elements" aria-describedby="semantic_elements_table_desc" aria-rowcount="81">
  <caption id="semantic_elements_table_desc">Semantic Elements to use instead of ARIA's roles</caption>
  <thead role="rowgroup">
     <tr role="row">
       <th role="columnheader" aria-sort="none">ARIA Role</th>
       <th role="columnheader" aria-sort="none">Semantic Element</th>
  <tbody role="rowgroup">
     <tr role="row" aria-rowindex="11">
       <th role="rowheader">header</th>
       <td role="cell">h1</td>
     <tr role="row" aria-rowindex="16">
       <th role="rowheader">header</th>
       <td role="cell">h6</td>

Above is the semantic way of writing a table. The ARIA roles are only necessary if the native semantics of the table, and therefore the table row headers, are obliterated, such as by setting the display property to flex or grid.

Added benefits



Specification Status
Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.1
The definition of 'ARIA: rowheader role' in that specification.
WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices 1.2
The definition of 'rowheader role' in that specification.
Working Draft

See also