aria-labelledby

The aria-labelledby attribute identifies the element (or elements) that labels the element it is applied to.

Description

The aria-labelledby property enables authors to reference other elements on the page to define an accessible name. This is useful when using elements that don't have native support for associating elements to provide an accessible name.

Some elements get their accessible name from their inner content. For example, the accessible name for a <button>, <a>, or <td> comes from the text between the opening and closing tags. Other elements, such as form <textarea>, <fieldset>, and <table> get their accessible name from the content of associated elements; for these elements, the accessible name comes from the <label> with a for attribute, <legend>, and <caption> respectively.

All interactive elements must have an accessible name. aria-labelledby can be used to reference another element to define its accessible name, when an element's accessible name needs to use content from elsewhere in the DOM.

If there is no content that can be referenced to create an accessible name, the aria-label attribute should be used instead.

The purpose of aria-labelledby is the same as that of aria-label. It provides the user with a recognizable, accessible name for an interactive element. If an element has both attributes set, aria-labelledby will be used. aria-labelledby takes precedence over all other methods of providing an accessible name, including aria-label, <label>, and the element's inner text.

The aria-labelledby and aria-describedby attributes both reference other elements to calculate text alternatives. aria-labelledby should reference brief text that provides the element with an accessible name. aria-describedby is used to reference longer content that provides a description. If there is no element in the DOM that provides a brief label appropriate for an accessible name for an interactive element, use aria-label to define the accessible name for an interactive element.

Note: While in U.S. English the attribute would be assumed to be spelled "labeledby", the "labelledby" spelling has been established and is the spelling used in accessibility APIs.

The following example uses aria-labelledby to provide an accessible name for a checkbox input by using the text content of a sibling element:

<span role="checkbox" aria-checked="false" tabindex="0" aria-labelledby="tac"></span>
<span id="tac">I agree to the Terms and Conditions.</span>

Note that while using aria-labelledby is similar in this situation to using an HTML <label> element with the for attribute, there are some very important differences. The aria-labelledby attribute only defines the accessible name. It doesn't provide any of <label>'s other functionality, such as making clicking on the labeling element activate the input it is associated with. That has to be added back in with JavaScript.

Fortunately, the HTML <input> with type="checkbox" works with native <label>. When feasible, use the following:

<label for="tac">
  <input id="tac" type="checkbox" name="terms-and-conditions">
  I agree to the Terms and Conditions.
</label>
<p>
  <a href="tac.html">Read our Terms and Conditions</a>.
</p>

Benefits (and drawbacks)

  1. The aria-labelledby property has the highest precedence when browsers calculate accessible names. Be aware that it overrides other methods of naming the element, including aria-label, other naming attributes, and even the element's contents.
    <button aria-label="Blue" aria-labelledby="color">Red</button>
    <span id="color">Yellow</span>
    
    In this example, that accessible name is "Yellow".
  2. The aria-labelledby property takes as value an id reference list, which means you can combine more than one element into a single accessible name. You can include the id of the element itself to reference its own content.
    <h2 id="attr" class="article-title">13 ARIA attributes you need to know</h2>
    <p>There are over 50 ARIA states and properties, but 13 of them stand out &helip;
      <a href="13.html" id="rm13" aria-labelledby="rm13 attr">read more</a>
    </p>
    
    In this example, the accessible name is "read more 13 ARIA attributes you need to know".
  3. The aria-labelledby property value order matters. When more than one element is referenced by aria-labelledby, the content from each referenced element is combined in the order that they are referenced in the aria-labelledby value. Had we written aria-labelledby="attr rm13">, the accessible name would have been "13 ARIA attributes you need to know read more".
  4. The aria-labelledby property ignores repeated ids in its value. If an element is referenced more than one time, only the first reference is processed. aria-labelledby="attr attr rm13 rm13"> is treated as aria-labelledby="attr rm13">
  5. The aria-labelledby property value can include content from elements that aren't even visible. While you should provide assistive technology users with the same content and all other users, you can include content from elements with the HTML hidden attribute, CSS display: none, and CSS visibility: hidden in the calculated name string.
  6. The aria-labelledby property incorporates the value of input elements. If the value references an <input>, the current value of the form control is included in the calculated name string, changing if the value is updated.
  7. The aria-labelledby property cannot be chained. If an element with aria-labelledby references another element that also has aria-labelledby, the aria-labelledby attribute on the referenced element is ignored.

Warning: Because calculating the name of an element with aria-labelledby can be complex and reference hidden content, testing with assistive technologies to ensure the expected name is presented to users is very important.

Values

ID reference list

Space separated list of one or more ID values referencing the elements that label the current element.

Associated roles

Used in almost all roles except roles that can not be provided an accessible name by the author.

The aria-labelledby attribute is NOT supported in code, caption, deletion, emphasis, generic, insertion, mark, paragraph, presentation/none, strong, subscript, superscript, suggestion, term, and time

Specifications

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

See Also