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Quick Tips for Developing an Accessible WordPress Site

WordPress is a great platform for developing accessible websites. This open source content management system (CMS) is well-documented and has a diverse and growing development community.

To ensure that your new WordPress site is accessible, it’s important to select an accessibility-ready theme, test plugins for accessibility, use accessible publishing techniques, and test new your pages for accessibility.

Choose an Accessible Theme

The first step in developing an accessible WordPress site is to choose an accessibility-ready theme. Accessibility-ready themes are built with accessibility in mind and include all of the basic features needed to create an accessible website including: keyboard accessible navigation, standards compliant HTML/CSS, responsive layouts, and more.

Screenshot of WordPress Accessibility Ready Theme Directory

The WordPress theme directory includes a growing list of accessibility-ready themes. Also, there are some premium accessibility-ready themes available for purchase on Envato Market (ThemeForest).

To verify that a them is accessibility-compliant, we recommend scanning the theme demo for your selected theme with Wave Accessibility Tool. Also, it’s important to check and confirm that accessibility-ready themes are fully keyboard accessible.

If you decide to invest in a custom WordPress theme, be sure to choose a developer who specializes in accessible website development. Check out our custom accessibility-certified WordPress packages for more information.

Use Accessible Plugins

While WordPress is a great platform for building accessible websites, there are many plugins in the WordPress plugin library are not fully accessible at this time. To ensure that your website is fully accessible, its important to test and verify that pages and functionality added by third-party plugins are accessible.

To test plugins, we recommend using an automated accessibility scanner (i.e. Wave Accessibility Tool) to scan plugin demos for accessibility errors. If a demo is not available for a plugin, you can install and test the plugin output on your own website.

Here is a brief list of a few plugins that we have found to have good support for accessibility:

Use the WYSIWYG Editor to Publish Accessible Posts

Screenshot of WordPress WYSIWYG EditorThe new (Gutenberg) and classic editors in WordPress include a number of features to help you publish accessible WordPress posts. Here are some tips to ensure that your posts are accessible for assistive technology users:

  • Use styles for headings (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) to structure your pages
  • Format lists using the bulleted and numbered list options in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Format quotes using the blockquote option in WordPress.
  • Add alternate text descriptions for images (excluding decorative images), and add a link to a page with a long-description for complex graphics.
  • Use correct HTML encodings for special characters (under Special Character in WordPress).

Test Your Pages for Accessibility

Use an automated accessibility scanner to test your new pages for accessibility. We recommend using Wave Accessibility Tool for this task. Wave is feature rich and includes a graphical display of WCAG failures, contrast warnings, ARIA landmarks, and other information.

Wave Accessibility Tool

There is also an extension for Wave Accessibility Tool for Google Chrome that allows you to test pages that require cookies (i.e. for authenticated users).

Conclusion

By taking some time to evaluate accessible themes and plugins for WordPress, you can ensure that your new site is built on a solid foundation for accessibility. Building on this foundation, you can use the publishing tools in WordPress to create accessible content for your users and reach the widest audience possible for your products and services.

Need Help Developing an Accessible WordPress Site?

Check out our affordable accessibility-certified WordPress website packages.


Essential Accessibility Plugins for WordPress

Three WordPress Plugins that You Can Install Today to Improve the Accessibility of Your Website

Developing a fully accessible website presents numerous challenges. Luckily, the WordPress Plugin library includes a number of free plugins that can help you improve the accessibility of your website today. In this article we’ll cover five plugins that you can install today to immediately improve the accessibility of your website.

Max Mega Menu

Max Mega Menu

Inaccessible drop down and mega menus are a common accessibility problem in WordPress CMS. Many custom navigation walker scripts do not generate keyboard accessible menus, and are missing other accessibility features (including keyboard focus for menu links).

Max Mega Menu plugin converts existing WordPress menus into accessible flyout and mega menus. The plugin addresses common keyboard accessibility problems present in many custom WordPress navigation walker scripts and includes styling for links to ensure that link focus is visible for navigation tabs and submenu links.

Max Mega Menu plugin also allows developers and website owners to customize link and menu styles directly in the WordPress dashboard—making menu setup quick and easy.

Learn more about Max Mega Menu Plugin

WP Accessibility

WP Accessibility

WP Accessibility is a free plugin that addresses a number of common accessibility problems in WordPress themes. The plugin includes options to add skip links with user-defined targets, language and text direction attributes to HTML, and styles for links to ensure that keyboard focus is visible. The plugin also includes a toolbar to allow users to toggle contrast, font size, and color saturation settings for your theme.

WP Accessibility is an excellent choice for developers and site owners who would like to take the first step to improve accessibility for assistive technology users.

Learn more about WP Accessibility

Simple Sitemap

Site Map Illustration

Adding an HTML sitemap is one of the easiest ways to improve accessibility of your website. A sitemap gives users another navigation aid to access content on your website.

The Simple Sitemap plugin helps improve accessibility and SEO by generating a responsive HTML sitemap for your website. The plugin allows you to customize your HTML sitemap to include specific post types and gives you full control over how the sitemap displays on your pages.

Conclusion

The plugins covered in this article are not a complete accessibility solution for WordPress CMS. They do provide a good starting point to address some common accessibility errors in WordPress.

Max Mega Menu is an excellent choice for upgrading your menu systems for keyboard accessibility, while WP Accessibility provides some essential accessibility tools for WordPress CMS. WP Sitemap is an excellent choice for adding a simple HTML sitemap to your website.

When used with a standards-compliant theme and accessible publishing techniques, these plugins can provide a firm foundation upon which to build an accessible website.

If you have questions about accessibility plugins, or need help with your website, please contact us.


 
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