At his Accessibility with WordPress presentation at Accessing Higher Ground 2012 Joe Dolson discussed the benefits and limitations of WordPress accessibility. He highlighted issues with themes, plugins, administration, discussed the upcoming 3.5 release and his recently released plugin that corrects theme accessibility issues. Here are my notes:
- Majority of themes are inaccessible
- Finding accessible themes is challenging
- Modifying an existing theme to be accessible isn’t an optimal solution either in terms of time or cost, since it takes hours to review the existing theme to understand what the issues are before beginning to modify.
- Dynamic editing is challenging for screen reader user, for example, drag and drop for menu management
- Keyboard navigation is awkward
- Change management: when a new version is released, unknown changes can be problematic
- Thankfully, the WordPress 3.5 version (expected before 2012 year-end) solves many issues including:
- Removes tabindex
- Adds skiplinks
- Ability to logout using the keyboard
- Form fields labeled properly
- Focus on keyboard navigation
- Screen options can be easily found and used
- Unfortunately, they’re a mess. Little quality checking on plugins. Many plugins haven’t been updated in years, and most have been developed without any idea of what accessibility is.
- Finding WordPress developers building accessible plugins is challenging.
What To Do if You Want Your WordPress Site to Be Accessible
- Visit WP-Accessible for reviews of accessible themes
- Check out the list of themes and plugins (PDF) Joe has compiled, as of November 2012. His list includes themes built on a framework/parent theme (for example, Twenty Ten and Genesis), stand-alone themes, plugins that improve accessibility (see below for more details on Joe’s WP-accessiblity plugin), and plugins that generate content on your site.
- Search the WordPress theme respository for the word “accessibility.” Currently the theme respository is in the process of auditing the “accessibility” tag; it may be a while before the search is accurate.
- Install Joe’s WP-Accessibility plugin, which fixes common problems in WordPress themes:
- Removes redundant title attributes in lists and other areas
- Adds skiplink support in Webkit (Chrome & Safari have a bug that doesn’t show keyboard focus as you tab through a page)
- Removes target attribute from links
- Removes tabindex from elements that are focusable
- Strips title attributes from images in content
- Adds post titles (wrapped in a span) to “read more ” links
- Adds outline to :focus state for focusable elements (often removed via a css reset)
- The plugin can’t fix color contrast issues, add labels to forms, fix heading structures, or add/remove ALT text to images
What to Expect for the Future
- Finding accessible themes will continue to be a challenge
- Learn about and get involved with Accessible Cities project, whose goal is to develop accessible WordPress themes
- Report bugs in WordPress.
- Get involved! Learn about accessibility in WordPress. Find out the latest news on how to make WordPress accessible.