Using a Bridging Technology is Backward

Bridging technologies are not intended to replace native HTML semantic features. Detouring HTML accessibility technical requirements into an "Accessible Rich Internet Applications" bridging specification is backward.

WAI-ARIA is a Bridging Technology

The Introduction to ARIA clearly states,

WAI-ARIA is intended to be used as a supplement for native language semantics, not a replacement. When the host language provides a feature that provides equivalent accessibility to the WAI-ARIA feature, use the host language feature.

The Protocols and Formats (PF) Working Group's Charter states,

Note that WAI-ARIA is intended to be a bridging technology. It is expected that, over time, host languages will evolve to provide semantics for objects that currently can only be declared with WAI-ARIA.

This was reinforced by Al Gilman, prior PF Chair, on behalf of that Working Group,

The working group likes the idea of having built in semantics in HTML and in particular would prefer to have common document elements, such as widgets built in to the markup. This reduces download size and the effort required to make a web page accessible. For these reasons, we would promote the use of such markup over the ARIA approach.

The idea was that native mechanisms would enrich the vocabulary of the language, thus rendering ARIA increasingly unnecessary.

As Derek Featherstone has stated, "ARIA is designed to provide accessibility at a technical level - what you might call 'programmatic accessibility' - where it doesn't already exist". Longdesc exists.

WAI-ARIA Goal and Dangers

A significant goal of WAI-ARIA is to:

help stimulate the emergence of more semantic and accessible markup. When native semantics for a given feature become available, it is appropriate for authors to use the native feature and stop using WAI-ARIA for that feature.

WAI ARIA should only be used as a last resort when content can't be made accessible using the host language. Everett Zufelt commented on HTML5 Doctor,

There are huge dangers in using ARIA instead of natively supporting accessibility in HTML5, these are not technical in nature. The longer the broader development community, such as the HTMLWG, ignores accessibility, or thinks that others like the PFWG / WAI will take care of it for them, the longer we will need technologies like ARIA to fill in the blanks.

Karl Groves illuminated the main point in his article "Confusion over HTML5 & WAI-ARIA",

The HTML specification is the shortest path to true accessibility

HTML is the direct route.

Henri Sivonen has stated,

the whole point of ARIA is to make semantic abuse accessible as an afterthought.

In other words ARIA is bandage meant to patch.

It is perhaps Ian Hickson who states the case best when he says that ARIA,

is not intended for use by authors who are trying to convey the very semantics that HTML can already convey.

Shirking Off Long Description Semantics to ARIA

HTML has native, built-in long description semantics with longdesc.

Keeping it core to the language keeps valuable semantics in HTML. It provides forethought, which thereby reduces the need for ARIA to be used as an accessibility afterthought.

The idea of HTML obsoleting longdesc, a native semantic attribute, and shirking off the responsibility of providing long description semantics to ARIA is retrograde. In other words, the premise is entirely backward.

ARIA should be used to augment missing native semantics of HTML as necessary, not as an excuse to kill and to replace them.