ARIA Role Support in Safari 4.0

Victor Tsarin asked on Twitter

Safari4 final came out but I don’t see any #ARIA improvements. Do you?

The Safari 4 New features page talks about ARIA support

Safari supports Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). The ARIA standard helps web developers make dynamic web content more accessible for people with disabilities. With ARIA, sites taking advantage of advanced technologies like AJAX and JavaScript can now easily interoperate with assistive technologies.

This prompted me to update the testing of the ARIA Role Support in Safari. The findings indicate minimal mapping of ARIA roles to the accessibility API’s on MAC and none on Windows.

Possible reasons for the disparity between claimed support and testing results:

  • Incorrect testing methdology.
  • Only supported on latest version of MAC OS.
  • Support does not use the standard accessibility API’s.
  • Overzealous marketing department.

Note: Using the Safari Web Inspector Tool (on MAC or Windows) the role attribute is not listed in the properties tab of elements that have a role attribute.

Supported Accessibility Roles (Safari HTML Reference)

Having just published this article, I then found the Safari documentation describing accessibility roles from the WAI-ARIA specification that are supported in Safari. It states:

WebKit now has elementary support for the WAI-ARIA specification.

It goes on to list the roles it supports, which are pretty much the same as the results from the testing I conducted


WAI-ARIA has 59 possible role values (excluding abstract roles):

  • Safari 4 Beta on MAC exposes 15 role values correctly via The MAC accessibility API
  • Safari 4.0 on MAC exposes 17 role values correctly via The MAC accessibility API
  • Safari 4 Beta on Windows exposes 8 role values correctly via MSAA
  • Safari 4.0 on Windows exposes 0 role values correctly via MSAA

Software used for testing

Detailed Results

ARIA role tests on MAC and Windows – Safari 4 beta & Safari 4.0

Previous Testing

WAI-ARIA role support – How the MAC browsers stack up

Categories: Development
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About Steve Faulkner

Steve is the Chief Accessibility Officer at TPGi. He joined TPGi in 2006 and was previously a Senior Web Accessibility Consultant at vision australia. Steve is a member of several groups, including the W3C Web Platforms Working Group and the W3C ARIA Working Group. He is an editor of several specifications at the W3C including ARIA in HTML and HTML Accessibility API Mappings 1.0. He also develops and maintains HTML5accessibility and the JAWS bug tracker/standards support.