Enable

Accessible Autocomplete (a.k.a Combobox)

Comboboxes are text input fields with autocomplete. In HTML5, they can be implemented using the <datalist> tag. In ARIA, they can be implemented with the combobox role and a bit of JavaScript.

This is one of the rare cases where the native HTML5 version is not accessible in the majority of the web browsers out there. Because of this, I have spent a lot of time working on Enable's combobox implementation.

Example 3: Using HTML5 datalist

This does not work with assistive technologies in most web browsers.

Ironically, this seems to be inaccessible compared to the ARIA version:

As you type, use the up and down arrow keys to choose the autocomplete items.

Example code explanation

Below is the HTML of the above example. Use the dropdown to highlight each of the individual steps that makes the example accessible.

☜ Scroll to read full source ☞

                    
                

Enable's ARIA combobox.

This combobox works better with screen readers than the native HTML5 version
This solution described below is available as an NPM module. (Module installation instructions)

This is a heavily refactored version of the combobox example at webkit.org. Added was a few extra instructions and UX features for screen reader users so they could use and understand the autocomplete features in this widget. If you start typing into the combobox, screen readers will tell users when autocomplete items appear and how many there are.

As you type, press the enter key or use the up and down arrow keys to choose the autocomplete items.

Example code explanation

Below is the HTML of the above example. Use the dropdown to highlight each of the individual steps that makes the example accessible.

☜ Scroll to read full source ☞

                    
                

Autosubmit Using an ARIA Combobox

This is a feature of the NPM module described in the previous section. (Module installation instructions)

There are many e-commerce sites that have a search form with a combobox that submits when the user chooses one of the options. This section shows an accessible proof-of-concept.

Example code explanation

Below is the HTML of the above example. Use the dropdown to highlight each of the individual steps that makes the example accessible.

Note: since it is very similar, please follow all the steps in the two previous examples first before implementing the following steps.

☜ Scroll to read full source ☞

                    
                

ARIA Combobox With Categories

This is an experimental feature of the NPM library described in the previous section (Module installation instructions)

Another ARIA combobox example, this time with the options grouped into categories. Note the special formatting in the dropdown. This is common in a lot of modern searchboxes in the headings of a lot of e-commerce sites.

As you type, use the up and down arrow keys (or swipe left and right) to choose the autocomplete items.

Example code explanation

Below is the HTML of the above example. Use the dropdown to highlight each of the individual steps that makes the example accessible.

Note: since it is very similar, please follow all the steps in the previous example first before implementing the following steps.

☜ Scroll to read full source ☞

                    
                

Installation Instructions

You can load this JavaScript library into your application in serveral ways:

If you haven't done so already, choosing which you should use is obviously a major architectural decision. Here are a few articles that will help you decide:

Important Note On The CSS Classes Used In This Module:

This module requires specific CSS class names to be used in order it to work correctly. These CSS classes begin with enable-combobox__. Please see the documentation above to see where these CSS classes are inserted.

Using NPM/Webpack to load ES6 Modules:

  1. Install the enable-a11y NPM project. Developers who are using webpack should know how to configure webpack to import the enable modules correctly.
  2. You can use the module like this:
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    // import the JS module import combobox from '~enable-a11y/js/modules/combobox'; // import the CSS for the module import '~enable-a11y/css/combobox'; // How to initialize the combobox library combobox.init(); // If you are adding a new instance of this component after page load, // then do the following (where el is the DOM node of the newly created // element, which contains the CSS class .enable-combobox): el.add();
  3. Alternatively, if you are using LESS you can include the styles in your project's CSS using:
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    @import '~enable-a11y/css/combobox';
    (If you are using it in your CSS, you will have to add the .css suffix)

Using ES6 modules natively.

This is the method that this page you are reading now loads the scripts.

  1. Grab the source by either using NPM, grabbing a ZIP file or cloning the enable source code from github.
  2. If you want to load the module as a native ES6 module, copy js/modules/combobox.js, and css/combobox.css from the repo and put them in the appropriate directories in your project (all JS files must be in the same directory).
  3. Load the CSS in the head of you document:
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    <html> <head> ... <link rel="stylesheet" href="path-to/css/combobox.css" > ... </head> <body> ... </body> </html>
  4. Load your scripts using:
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    <script type="module"> import combobox from "path-to/combobox.js" combobox.init(); </script>

Using ES4

Just do the same as the ES6 method, except you should get the JavaScript files from the js/modules/es4 directory instead of the js/modules/:
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<script src="path-to/es4/combobox.js"></script>