Since its inception in 2003 as a blogging platform, WordPress has evolved to power over 40% of websites globally. The growth is attributed to its open-source nature and community support, making it a perfect choice for most website owners.
With many businesses switching to WordPress, web accessibility is crucial to ensure inclusivity to as many users as possible. These include the visually impaired persons relying on assistive technology to browse the website.
WordPress accessibility comprises web design standards and best practices to make your site accessible and address specific concerns with change. Here is all you need to know about WordPress accessibility and the ten steps to make an accessible WordPress website.
Why Is WordPress Accessibility Important?
WordPress accessibility is important for the following reasons:
Provides Inclusive Experiences for People With Disabilities
As you build your website by focusing on the layout, design, navigation, and content, it is easy to forget the diversity of people who will visit the website, including those with mental and physical impairments. This will result in limiting their use of your site. Therefore, as a WordPress owner or developer, you must ensure that your site is accessible, as this will ensure easy content interaction by your visitors regardless of their challenges.
Enhances User Experience
An inaccessible website makes it difficult for users to perform simple tasks or get the information they need. Therefore, beyond rankings, ensure your website is usable for your audience, as this will likely turn a lead into satisfaction and enhance brand loyalty.
Reduces Risk of Potential Lawsuits
Web accessibility is a requirement in most states, hence the need for WordPress ADA compliance. You will protect your brand from hefty lawsuits and a damaged reputation through compliance.
ADA-compliant WordPress will impact SEO positively by making it easier for search engines to make your content more visible to users.
Opens Business Up to New Customers
By improving web accessibility, your website will be visible and attractive to more clients and referrals, and as a result, up your business to new customers.
What Is ADA Compliance?
The ADA compliance is a civil law that requires the inclusion of all persons, especially those specially abled, in all aspects of public life. WordPress ADA compliance requires following the WCAG guidelines at least level AA. ADA compliance applies to all electronic technology and information. Failure to oblige puts your business at risk of a hefty lawsuit, even if unintentionally skipped.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
According to WCAG guidelines, your website should be operable, perceivable, understandable, and robust to accommodate persons with physical, auditory, visual, and cognitive disabilities.
Perceivable websites feature captions for videos, alternative text for images, and semantic HTML structure, making your WordPress accessible to persons with disabilities. Your website should also feature sufficient color contrast and provide a meaningful reading order.
Operable content provides accessibility interaction. Content must provide keyboard access and adequate time for content interaction as well as avoid seizure-causing flashes.
Understandable content comprises of simple and clear language that is understandable by disabled persons.
Robust content ensures that assistive technology can interact with and present the content of your website through multiple platforms and devices.
Conducting WCAG compliance checks will help you know where your website stands and how to increase your platform’s accessibility.
Is WordPress Accessible by Default?
Every WordPress release features accessibility, but you must do more to ensure your site is accessible. Developers are creating new assistive tools and guidelines about WordPress accessibility in compliance with the W3C’s guidelines, but they do not completely align with them.
10 Steps to Make an Accessible WordPress Website
Accessibility is an increasingly popular topic in people’s minds, and the WordPress community is also vocal about the topic. Read on for the steps to make an accessible WordPress website.
Test Your WordPress Site for Accessibility
Auditing your WordPress site for accessibility during development and maintenance is vital. You can accomplish this through a testing tool like the Chrome extension Google Lighthouse.
Choose a Theme Designed for Accessibility
Through the WordPress.org theme repository, you can get a WordPress-accessible theme for your website. While these themes do not fully comply with the WCAG guidelines, they will give you a good start toward WordPress accessibility.
Write Accessible Code
While you may not be the one coding for your website, your choices can make your website inaccessible, which will negatively affect users. Using clean and accessible HTML code is crucial to WordPress accessibility. With proper header and title tags, bulleted lists, meta descriptions, and alt tags, your visually impaired visitors will easily locate everything on the page.
Create Accessible Content
Creating accessible content means the following:
- A descriptive anchor text to enable readers to know where the link takes them
- Shorter sentences and paragraphs
- Relevant images
- Captions for your audio and video
- On-page transcripts for audio and video files
Offer Text Alternatives for Non-text Content
Offering text alternatives for images offers a description of the non-text content to users who cannot see it. This is especially useful for readers relying on screen readers as they can easily understand the image content.
Improve Navigational Buttons and Links
When linking to your blog or another site, use a descriptive link to help the reader know where the link will take them. For instance, “Contact me” or “Learn more about my business” is better than “Click here.” Your navigational buttons should also provide keyboard access.
Use Color with Care
Color and contrast affect the clarity and readability of your web content. The WCAG recommends careful use of colors in the following respects.
Using color with care on your WordPress means that your text and other visuals on your website should have enough contrast with the background to enhance readability. The recommended WCAG contrast ratio for normal text is 4:5:1.
Large text that is at least 18.67 px and bold or 24px or larger requires a 3:1 contrast ratio. Form field borders and interactive elements such as buttons also require a 3:1 contrast ratio against their surrounding backgrounds.
Make Your Platform Keyboard Navigable
Another recommendation for WordPress accessibility is making your platform keyboard navigable. Users who cannot use or have difficulties using a mouse should be able to navigate your website menus, homepage, and other elements through keyboard commands.
Offer Text Resizing Capability
Ensure that when the text of your website is resized up to 200% of its original size, the content remains legible and does not overlap or become truncated. It is not required to provide a control to allow users to increase the size of the text. However, if you decide to include a text resizing control, ensure that it is accessible to all users.
Use Clear Layouts
A clear layout will make it easy for visitors to read and process your content. You can achieve WordPress accessibility with a clear layout by using white space generously to rest the eyes of persons with dyslexia as well as breaking up the text with headings and other visual elements.
Finally, develop a plan describing your steps to making your WordPress website accessible. This way, your employees and developers will contribute to every action towards an accessible site. You can monitor progress to match market demands and WordPress ADA compliance with a strategy in place.
While the WordPress.org expectations depict an accessible theme and plugins compliant with WCAG guidelines, it is up to the builder or owner to make their site fully accessible.
WordPress helps with accessibility by offering optimized themes to users, ensuring access on multiple devices. The site also features accessible themes, but you must supplement them to ensure full accessibility.
The accessibility mode in WordPress refers to a setting in its older versions that enabled users to add widgets to their pages. This feature was available at the top right corner of the dashboard through the classic editor. However, with the newer updates, this feature has been replaced by the Gutenberg editor.