WordPress powers around 40% of the world’s websites. As such, it plays a crucial role in how the internet perceives websites. It is not a stretch that it is equally important for web accessibility. Today, WordPress allows even non-tech people to create a decent website that may go up to have a great reach. But is your website really reaching the maximum audience you imagined? In order to maximize a website’s impact, one has to account for accessibility to everyone. But is WordPress really suited for that? Are WordPress websites accessible? If not, how can we make them more accessible? All these and much more will be answered in the following article.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility ensures that a website is designed and developed for everyone, including those who don’t use conventional methods. It covers how someone understands, navigates, interacts with, and contributes to the website. Web accessibility addresses the need of those people with disabilities and strives towards a more fair internet.
Web accessibility addresses an impairment that can make it hard for someone to access a website. These impairments might be:
- And Visual
Is WordPress Accessible?
Sure, it is a concern when people use WordPress for site-building. They worry about how much they need to add while complying with WCAG (web accessibility guidelines). Sadly, there is no clear-cut answer to the question. While WordPress tries its best to be accessible and offer accessibility tools, some areas can improve, while some areas clearly need a lot of work. Although today, out-of-the-box, WordPress is fairly accessible.
The website keeps adding little things over time with each update to make itself more accessible and, at the same time, includes site-building tools that can help with web accessibility.
The best thing about WordPress is it is Open Source and has a thriving developers’ community. As long as people in the community are positive and vocal towards web accessibility, which they are, things are bound to improve.
How to make an accessible website with WordPress?
Although there is no clear checklist when it comes to WordPress websites and web accessibility, users can still do a lot to ensure that their websites at least comply with WCAG standards. Take a look:
Perform an accessibility test
Before starting with making any changes to your website, why not first perform a test to accurately gauge the degree of change you need, if you do need it? Afterward, you could figure out what ought to change and how to change those web elements. That’s why before beginning with any web accessibility, we do need to perform a test, which can either be manual or automated.
Conduct an automated test
First up is automated tests. These are not only easier to do, but they also help with where to begin making those changes. Those new to web accessibility should start with an automated test.
An automated test will point out things like color contrast, missing alt text, dead links, structural content issues, etc. With these tests, you get a rough outline of the problems. After which, you can start making remedies accordingly. Furthermore, these tests are most helpful with minute issues, such as code-based errors, that might deceive the naked eye but are still relevant to web accessibility.
Conduct a manual test
Next is the more involved manual test. Although you can conduct such tests with the aid of various tools and programs, it is equally possible to do them without such add-ons. You can also find some pointers on conducting a manual web accessibility test by scrolling down.
- Try to navigate the website without the use of a mouse. If you can successfully move between sections, access menus, change pages, skip content, and interact with links solely using your keyboards, it is considered good.
- Employ a screen reader to view/listen to the website content. Ensure everything is smooth, clear, and sensible when read aloud.
- Use a metered connection or go to an area with poor network coverage to check whether the website loads or not. Track the lag involved and mark the areas that fail to load.
- Zoom the website to at least 200% and then use it. If you can navigate the website and use it as normal, without any portion cutting off, then it’s good.
- Spend considerable time on interactive elements such as videos, links, and buttons.
- Check the images for alt tags or text.
- Play with color and contrast. Imagine your website in black and white or totally black or white. Even if the decorative stuff is affected, make sure the core of the website remains intact.
Use an “Accessibility Statements” page
Adding an “Accessibility Statements” page is always helpful. You can use it to announce policies, communicate your accessibility goals, and showcase past successes when tackling web accessibility.
A website with an “Accessibility Statements” page sends a distinct message. You can also use it to highlight things like:
- Care for web accessibility
- Profligate information
- Demonstrating commitment
- Social responsibility
Try WordPress Accessibility Plugins
WordPress is famous for its plugins. There are a lot of plugins available, all offering different functionality. Hence, plugins can be a way to web accessibility. Two kinds of plugins help with accessibility. One, that can get used when building a website from scratch, and one that works on existing websites.
However, there are a lot of subpar products too. Don’t be deceived by something like one-click accessibility or an automatic accessibility tool. Hence, being cautious is the way to go.
Having said that, there are still hundreds of plugins that can actually improve web accessibility. Some inspect your site and point out the issues, while some provide tools to solve accessibility problems.
Employ an accessibility theme
Then there are WordPress themes that can be accessible. By employing such a theme on your website, you can readily get a working foundation; On which you can center your website. Themes control how your website looks. You can customize the color schemes, texts, and even images. Some themes are already fully accessible, and all you have to do is apply them to your website.
Then, there is always the option of creating a theme. When creating a custom theme, you can heed the following to ensure web accessibility:
- Color contrast
- Navigation with a keyboard
- Employing ARIA roles or HTML5 landmarks to support screen-readers
- HTML semantic markup
- Proper content structuring
Adopt an accessible web design
Finally, you can customize the website itself to become more accessible by making changes to the images, text, and color.
The images on the website should be accessible to everyone. Even those who might be visually impaired can use assistive tech to view images. In such cases, you have to use alternative text with your images for them to understand what’s on the site. Alt text is a description of the image which can be read aloud when using a screen reader.
Those visitors who have poor vision, color blindness, or those using certain devices to view the website should be able to perceive what’s on the site. You must use a suitable color contrast. The WCAG requires a minimum of a 4.5:1 color ratio for normal text and 3:1 for large text.
Text contributes most to a website. Hence, one has to ensure whether the text is accessible or not. Thus, you should use suitable fonts and sizes. Accessible fonts are as such:
- Times New Roman
- Museo Slab
- and Rockwell
If you are using a font that is too difficult to read, change it ASAP. If you don’t know how to do it, read our article on how to change WordPress font.