Your Chance to Give Feedback on WordPress’ Accessibility Coding Standards

The WordPress Accessibility team is seeking feedback on a draft that outlines accessibility coding standards for WordPress core. According to the draft, new features should meet the accessibility guidelines before merging into core.

All code released in WordPress must conform with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA. These basic guidelines are intended for easy reference during development, but do not cover all possible accessibility issues.

While the document focuses on core, it’s also a great reference for developers who want their themes and plugins more accessible.

Matt Mullenweg Addresses WordPress’ Accessibility

For the second year in a row, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, an advocate for improving WordPress’ accessibility, brought up the topic during the Q&A portion of the 2015 State of the Word.

Hendriksen notes that in 2014, the WordPress theme directory contained 14 themes with the accessibility-ready tag. In 2015, that number increased to 79.

Hendriksen brings up the fact that when WordPress adopts modern technologies, so does most of the web citing responsive images as an example. He asks Mullenweg if WordPress can do the same for accessibility in which the audience responds with applause. Mullenweg responds with a simple yes.

Thinking of Accessibility as Just a Checkbox

Hendriksen then asks a follow-up question, “Can you tell everyone in this room and community that when they learn JavaScript, to also add on that little accessibility part, so that we’re building everything accessible and tell the world that the web should be accessible and that’s the WordPress way?”

Mullenweg responds by agreeing the web should be accessible but says, “I’m worried about getting to a point where we think of accessibility like a checkbox. Even though there are great guidelines and things like that, I think that accessibility is a process and it’s going to be driven sometimes not by every single person, but by groups like the amazing accessibility team and most importantly by the people who need the technology, communicating, and us observing that.

“So, I do think that we have presentations on accessibility at every single WordCamp, we have the accessibility guidelines online but I think we’re a little behind on the theme reviews which is part of the reason the number hasn’t grown as much because the accessibility reviews are more difficult than a standard review, but I’m really excited about what this group has been able to do and the growing momentum it’s gained in the WordPress world.”

“I don’t think that saying I want things to be accessible moves things forward as much as the continuing education that we’re doing through every single WordCamp, the guidelines, and the group,” Mullenweg said. He also highlights the need to think of accessibility in a global sense.

“I think about the 6.99 billion people who haven’t used WordPress yet and many of those who can’t. I also think about accessibility in terms of languages and touch devices.

“These are things that as we get there, what we do right can expand to a larger audience. I encourage everyone to keep that in mind, but learn JavaScript as well,” he said.

Mullenweg’s responses reinforce the fact that accessibility remains a priority for the WordPress project. If you notice a typo or want to give feedback on the WordPress accessibility guidelines draft, please leave a comment on the post. Also, check out the Make WordPress Accessible site for information on how you can help make WordPress more accessible.


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