What Do You Need in an Accessible WordPress Theme?

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I’ve wanted to create a WordPress theme for a long time. I just didn’t see how the one I created could be different from the hundreds already available.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized an accessible WordPress theme could help a my theme stand out. Sylvia Egger has done great work with Accessible Twenty Ten Five and SeaBeast was well known years ago. But why not add another to the mix?

Yesterday, I tweeted that I was working on this and asked the accessibility community what they wanted to see. I was happy to get a few retweets and responses.

What would you want to see? Let me know in the comments.

Here’s what I’m aiming for at this early stage:

  • HTML5/CSS3 with a mix of progressive enhancement and graceful degradation.
  • Responsive design
  • Visible skip links
  • Good color contrast (meeting WCAG AA)
  • High contrast style switcher
  • Will meet current WordPress coding standards
  • Will be open source and free

Published by David A. Kennedy

I work as a Senior UX Designer at Ad Hoc, focusing on accessibility.

10 replies on “What Do You Need in an Accessible WordPress Theme?”

  1. It’ll be good to have another inclusive theme for WP. My 2p is to suggest that it’s a beautiful theme. Subjective I know, but a theme that really demonstrates that something can look good, as well as work well.

  2. Probably already on this but it would be good to see all elements accessible to keypress i.e. all menu sub-cats, video, focus on opening content (such as layers on current page, if you use them).

    The contrast style switcher is a fantastic idea, can’t wait to see it in action!


  3. Can you include a slider for the business related page template and see if atbar.org buttons can be inbuilt into the theme so that we don’t have to include the plugin.

    1. The AT Bar is interesting – I’ve seen it before. I hesitate to add something like this to the theme itself – it seems like better functionality for a plugin. Plus, most of what it does can be done through browser settings.

      But I will definitely take a closer look at the code and consider it!

  4. Excellent post! I have 3 suggestions. (1) I’ve attempted to comment on blogs where there will be 2 or more consecutive edit fields that seem not to have a label, or at least not one which is picked up by Non-Visual Desktop Access or System Access. I haven’t used JAWS in a few years, but I seem to recall this also being the case with that screen reader. I’ve not used any others for commenting on blogs, so cannot comment any further. But these edit fields are surrounded by social-networking options, i.e., comment using a Facebook or a Twitter account. I’m not a big FB fan to begin with, but I won’t get into that on here. (2) I can’t remember which WP theme does this, but there is at least one theme where the Comment field is mislabeled as Website. So there appear to be 2 Website fields. Here again, I’m not sure whether this is due to incorrect rendering by the screen reader in use, or just a problem that needs to be fixed on WP itself. (3) A lot of times when I’ve commented on a WP-based blog, the comment will still not appear in the list of comments even upon checking back after a few days have passed.

  5. Make sure the links all have proper names. For example, in the dashboard right now a lot of them have names like “links.php” “edit.php” etc. And I can’t even access some areas of the settings with Safari and VoiceOver. Interestingly, Safari on the iPad seems to work a little better for this.

  6. David, Please see the website we created earlier this year http://www.sexualityanddisability.org – how can we find a wordpress theme which is accessible for the blog, which is currently tucked away at Have Your Say (on home page)? We would like to replace the current blog with something more bloggy in terms of design, look and feel, but we need something that is as fully accessible as possible.Am checking out seabeast too. Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this. Will keep a lookout for your theme (much needed).

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