The aria-activedescendant attribute identifies the currently active element when focus is on a composite widget, combobox, textbox, group, or application.


The aria-activedescendant property provides a method of managing focus for assistive technologies on interactive elements when they contain multiple focusable descendants, such as menus, grids, and toolbars. Instead of the screen reader moving focus between owned elements, aria-activedescendant can be used on container elements to refer to the currently active element, informing assistive technology users of the currently active element when focused.

With aria-activedescendant, the browser keeps the DOM focus on the container element or on an input element that controls the container element. However, the user agent communicates desktop focus events and states to the assistive technology as if the element referenced by aria-activedescendant has focus.

This attribute is only relevant on elements with role of composite widget, combobox, textbox, group, or application whose id is referenced as the attribute value.

The attribute manages providing assistive technologies with information as to which element has focus, but doesn't actually create focus. Changing focus and managing the attributes value is done with JavaScript. In addition to managing that attribute value, make sure the currently active descendant is visible and in view (or scrolls into view) when focused.

In setting the value of aria-activedescendant on an element with DOM focus, ensure the value refers to an owned element—either a descendant of the element with DOM focus OR a logical descendant as indicated by the aria-owns attribute.

When the element with DOM focus is a combobox, textbox, or searchbox, include aria-controls to refer to the element that supports aria-activedescendant.

The value of aria-activedescendant refers to an owned element of the controlled element. For example, in a combobox, focus may remain on the combobox while the value of aria-activedescendant on the combobox element refers to a descendant of a popup listbox that is controlled by the combobox.

Note: The attribute is supported only on a few roles. For example, dialogs do not support aria-activedescendant. When a combobox opens a dialog, DOM focus moves into the dialog from the combobox as it is not referenceable with this attribute.

Note: When a descendant of a listbox, grid, or tree popup is focused, DOM focus remains on the combobox and the combobox has aria-activedescendant set to a value that refers to the focused element within the popup.


ID reference

takes as its value the id of the currently focused element.

Associated roles

Relevant only as an attribute on elements with the following roles:


Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA)
# aria-activedescendant
ARIA Authoring Practices
# kbd_focus_activedescendant

See Also