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Besides high-quality design, functionality, and SEO, web accessibility is another box your WordPress website needs to tick. Yet, it isn’t the first thing most people think of when mulling over what makes a good website.
Web accessibility isn't too different from accessibility in the physical world. Imagine running a website that as many people as possible can access, no matter their background or impairment. To achieve that, you’ll need to build the virtual equivalent of a ramp, at the very least!
Users living with visual or motor disabilities usually navigate the web differently. Often, they use screen readers or just their keyboard to work their way around websites. Unfortunately, the gap between people with disabilities and an accessible web is widening. In fact, amongst common screen-reader users, over 60% feel that web content hasn’t changed or actually got worse between 2019-2020. This is attributed to a lack of awareness, web accessibility skills and practical tools.
In short, web accessibility is about considering all your website visitor's potential requirements and addressing them by adopting better web practices. Staying ignorant to the issues surrounding inaccessible websites widens the gap between people with disabilities and those without.
So it's no wonder some countries now regulate website accessibility by law. In fact, during the first half of 2018 alone, as many as 1,053 web accessibility lawsuits were filed in federal court. That’s a whopping 23% hike from the previous year!
You can easily test whether your site meets accessibility standards by using accessiBe’s free accessibility and compliance testing tool, aCe.
And don’t worry. There are quick and simple practical solutions you can use to boost the accessibility of your website. If you’re ready to make WordPress accessibility a priority, we’re here to help.
WordPress accessibility is essential to each and every website owner. Not only is it a matter of business credibility, but ethically, including users from all walks of life is the 'right' thing to do. These are a couple of reasons why WordPress takes accessibility very seriously. All new and updated code released on WordPress must conform with WCAG guidelines as per the WordPress Accessibility Coding Standards.
These requirements aside, accessibility isn't a tedious one-way obligation. Instead, improving your WordPress accessibility can, in fact, unlock several benefits for your website:
You might be wondering how much your website's lagging behind where WordPress accessibility is concerned. The good news is that all WordPress websites have the potential to be accessible already.
However, this depends on:
...all of these factors can hinder accessibility.
To make a judgment call on the current state of your WordPress accessibility, you need to conduct an audit. However, to do this effectively, you first need to understand the different types of accessibility:
Multi-device: Over 53% of all website traffic is generated through mobile phones. So, for your website to be truly accessible, you need to ensure your site's mobile-friendly. Fortunately, responsive WordPress themes are now the norm. Still, if you're unsure, it's worth double-checking the mobile friendliness of your site.
Auditory/visual/motor/cognitive impairments: Of course, you can't generalize the requirements of different disabilities entirely. However, your website should be accessible to screen readers. This is imperative for ensuring those with visual impairments can navigate their way around your site. Your website should also be accessible using a keyboard only, so anyone unable to move a mouse can also browse your site. Lastly, videos should have subtitles or transcripts so that deaf users can benefit from all your website's content.
Economic (slow internet, older hardware): Users that don’t have access to new technology should still be able to browse your website. You can ensure this by guaranteeing quick page load times by opting for high-quality hosting.
Pro Tip: You can learn about Convesio’s hosting capabilities here.
With so much to consider, it's lucky we don’t have to figure out WordPress accessibility on our own. The Guidelines of Accessible Web Design (WCAG) set a clear, recognized standard for accessible websites. This consists of 65 testable criteria across four core principles.
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A variety of website elements must be accessible before your site can confidently claim this label. To ensure full accessibility, these different elements need to work together, and your chosen themes and plugins also need to support WordPress accessibility. To help you hit the ground running, we've listed a few things you can change to start improving your WordPress website's accessibility.
Images, Colors, Alt Text
So those with visual impairments have a good user experience (and to improve UX more generally), ensure the color contrast between your text and backgrounds is high enough. This goes a long way to boost readability. You should also use a consistent color palette that isn’t too ‘noisy’ or distracts the eye away from more important content.
Similarly, visually impaired users also benefit from image alt-text describing the content of your website imagery. This enables screen readers to outline what's depicted in the image.
Acronyms / Shorthand
Some users struggle with technical language and/or acronyms. The same goes for screenreaders. They may not have the necessary context to accurately communicate the jargon to the user. Where possible, always define acronyms and technical phrases from the get-go.
Contact forms should be easy to follow and fill out. This means left-aligning your text and consistently labeling each box. Use standard terminology here instead of getting descriptive or funny. The most common form titles include “Email,” “Name,” “Send,” “Phone Number,” etc.
Screenreaders can seek out links in your content to make it easier for visually impaired users to navigate your website. However, the anchor text needs to be descriptive enough to indicate where the link will take you for this to work. For example: “Find more tips on Accessibility here” provides more info than just “More” or “here.”
For better readability, your text should boast a font size of at least 16px. You should also choose fonts that aren’t too elaborate or swirly, especially for the main content text. Instead, choose a simple serif font for better readability.
Suppose you knowingly don’t provide the necessary accessibility to meet the needs of specific users. In that case, you must let them know. That way, they can decide whether to persevere with your site or look elsewhere. You can do this by including a clearly linked accessibility statement on your website. This should state the steps you have taken to boost your website accessibility and, conversely, what parts of your website might not be accessible.
Keeping up with WordPress accessibility standards when updating your website with new themes, plugins, and content can be a time-consuming task. If you’re unsure what to look for or how to test for accessibility, it’s easy to make various oversights.
But there’s an easy way to master accessibility without all the headache and hassle. accessiBe is an accessibility plugin for WordPress that simplifies the auditing process and helps you optimize your site for accessibility.
With accessiBe, you can rest easy knowing that if accessibility issues crop up, they'll be addressed and remediated automatically. This frees up your time so you can focus on what you do best: managing your business.
Install accessiBe today to make your WordPress Website accessible and improve its performance overall.
Accessibility is a critical web design practice to be aware of if you want to create a thriving and professional WordPress site. It's the responsibility of business owners to bring their WordPress accessibility up to global standards.
In return, accessible brands will be rewarded with higher traffic and better SEO. After all, when you've invested in a sleek-looking WordPress website with high-performance hosting capabilities, you don’t want to take any risks.
Is your site accessible? Find out using the free aCe Scanner and get an accessibility audit of your website today.
Achieving great WordPress accessibility takes time and a good understanding of the principles at play. Installing a WordPress accessibility plugin like accessiBe can make these changes for you, saving you tons of time and hassle. So what are you waiting for?
You can sign up for a free trial of accessiBe here to try it today!