It seems like we should revisit the purpose of adding aria-errormessage and 
then ask ourselves whether or not any of these mapping proposals could achieve 
it. If not, perhaps we should give ourselves more time (ARIA 2.0) to identify 
the ideal path to the desired end.

When aria-errormessage was first discussed, my understanding was that the 
purpose is to distinguish an error message from a description so that assistive 
technologies would have the option to give it special treatment. 

Is there more to it than that?

The description of aria-errormessage does not contain any normative statements 
or suggestions that apply to assistive technologies. Are there any assumptions 
about what assistive technologies might do? Judging from this thread, one 
assumption I could derive is that assistive technologies would prioritize 
speaking error messages over descriptions.

All the user experience behaviors described in the aria-errormessage text are 
easily achieved with aria-describedby. If the primary desire was to get 
assistive technologies to prioritize error messages over descriptions, then we 
could as effectively achieve that objective with authoring practices.

It is worth noting that error messages often make field descriptions 
unnecessary. For example, a field description might be "Please enter  a date in 
yyyy/mm/dd format." And a corresponding error message may be "Please provide 
the date in yy/mm/dd format." If the error message and description are not 
redundant, then it seems reasonable to ask authors to provide the ID of the 
error message first followed by the ID of the description in the 
aria-describedby property.


-----Original Message-----
From: Joanmarie Diggs [] 
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 6:48 AM
To: James Teh <>
Cc: IA2 List <>; ARIA Working Group 
Subject: Re: [Accessibility-ia2] Mapping of aria-errormessage for ATK/AT-SPI2 
and IA2

Hey Jamie, all.

FWIW, I had proposed exposing it via the existing description-related 
relationships plus an object attribute:

And I indicated that I didn't have strong feelings either way about whether or 
not the description was included as part of the alternative text calculation:

In other words, I personally do not see it as fundamentally different.
Mind you, knowing that something is an error message might prove handy, hence 
my suggestion of an object attribute on the element that contains the error 

I don't like to take performance hits any more than you do. If you feel like 
this approach will result in a performance hit, then we should rethink things.

All of that said.... Where I myself am is that we need to map this new ARIA 
feature. And we're trying to get ARIA 1.1 locked down. Given that, along with 
the fact that it is seen as desirable that we keep our platforms aligned 
whenever possible, what I want is *some* mapping. :) I tossed out the new 
relation type because I got the impression that my original proposal was not 
seen as acceptable, and because you suggested a new relation type:


On 04/11/2016 08:18 PM, James Teh wrote:
> On 12/04/2016 3:26 AM, Joanmarie Diggs wrote:
>> If there's sufficient belief that errormessage is inherently 
>> different
> FWIW, I don't believe this personally--I've not seen a single argument 
> that I wasn't able to defeat--but it seems like this decision has 
> already been made in ARIA. Certainly, NVDA will just be merging it 
> into description internally. What I will say is if ARIA views it as 
> being fundamentally different (as misguided as I think this is), it 
> seems problematic if the accessibility APIs merge it.
> That said, one nasty problem with an additional API or relation is 
> that we have to call/crawl that additional thing for *every* 
> accessible just to find out whether it has an error message. That's 
> kinda ugly from a performance perspective; we hurt performance 
> everywhere just to support aria-errormessage. Still, I guess this is 
> the best we can have given the majority opinion that it is so fundamentally 
> different.
> I'm happy with the names you proposed.
> Jamie

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