What is HTML 5?
HTML 5 is an evolution of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) standard and is designed to provide structure to content. Unlike previous versions of HTML, HTML 5 includes new features such as: better integration of video, the ability to drag-and-drop graphical elements, edit pages and interpret location information such as GPS tracking.
HTML 5 contains a number of additional APIs which provide extra functionality over traditional HTML development, including:
- 2D drawing
- Timed media playback
- Document editing
- Drag and drop
- Cross-document messaging
- Browser history management
Potential accessibility benefits of HTML 5
There are a number of potential accessibility benefits to HTMl 5, including:
- Standardised video - HTML 5 has the potential to deliver video that does not need a plug-in like Flash, Real or Windows Media. This can help maintain consistency when creating and implementing captions and audio description.
- Accessibility of cloud applications - HTML 5 should make it easier to apply WCAG 2.0 criteria to cloud applications and make them more accessible by standardising the way web-based applications work.
- Integration of WAI-ARIA - WAI-ARIA gives specific instructions to assistive technology products that are used by people with disabilities, enabling these products to better work with web applications. WAI-ARIA is not a specific HTML 5 feature, but it should be used together with HTML 5.
Current issues with HTML 5 development
While HTML offers great promise for accessibility, there are current restrictions in its implementation. These are due to:
- HTML 5 is currently a draft standard and will continue to evolve, making it difficult to currently develop for it
- Inconsistencies between web browsers in their implementation of HTML 5
- Varying levels of interpretation and support amongst assistive technology products
- Competing video formats make it unlikely that the full accessibility benefits of HTML 5-based video playback will be widely implemented
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