FAQ: Accessibility - ARIA Role: Presentation

This community-built FAQ covers the “ARIA Role: Presentation” exercise from the lesson “Accessibility”.

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FAQs on the exercise ARIA Role: Presentation

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<div role="presentation">
  <p>Hello, World!</p>

In the example above, a screen reader wouldn’t read div out loud as it has a role of presentation. However, it will read the p as it isn’t a necessary child element of a <div>. What if we didn’t want screen readers to read p out loud, do we also give it a role of presentation? Do we want the screen reader to read p out loud?

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What does it mean by “This happens because the paragraph is not a necessary child of the div”?

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Tons of element can be children of a div element, however, only li element can be direct children of a <ul> or <ol>. So when you give role=‘presentation’ to a list, it’ll apply directly to the <li> children of this list.

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How is a screen reader able to know what is a list if we give the list a role of presentation? I thought that lists should communicate their semantic meaning to screen reader users in order to understand the content.


I don’t think it changes the meaning, just prevents it being read out loud.

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This lesson is wrong.

Its explanation of how screen readers work is wrong, and it teaches people to use ARIA role presentation when they absolutely shouldn’t.

Screen readers don’t say “ol” out loud - they say “list,” which is helpful context when navigating without seeing the content. That’s not something you want to remove with ARIA. It’s utterly baffling to me how you can teach students how to use semantic HTML and then teach them to remove those semantics to make the experience worse for screen reader users. They’re used to hearing “link” and “heading level one” and “list” when navigating - blind users need to, because how else are they going to know that something is a link? How will they navigate by headings to quickly scan a page if you remove the headings? How will they know they’ve entered a list, or hear how many list items there are if the code tells a screen reader to ignore its semantics? (Hint: they won’t.)

On the other hand, screen readers also won’t read out “div” at all - divs have no semantic meaning, so putting role “presentation” on them is pointless. They are already simply for presentation (grouping content for styling or layout).

This accessibility course is literally teaching people to write inaccessible code. The first rule of ARIA is “don’t use ARIA (unless absolutely necessary),” and this is why - because using it poorly often makes something less accessible, when the whole point of ARIA is to complement HTML and fill some gaps. Not utterly destroy accessibility inherent to the HTML.

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