This week in WordPress Accessibility, May 23th, 2018

Weekly Bug scrub

Trac tickets

#44007: Making a child theme link should open in new tab
Decided to close the issue as we are working on removing the target=”_blank” option for the WP Admin for cases like this (see the WPA11y handbook: The link opens in a window or tab).

#44035: Admin flyout submenu does not open on mouseover when changing device width in browser
Decided to remove the accessibility focus; this is an overall issue, not specifically a11y.

#44073: Add functionality to search plugin with double quoted keyword
Decided to remove the accessibility focus, as not related to web content accessibility issues.

Gutenberg issues

Gutenberg 1311 react-datepicker is not accessible

The current date picker is not (keyboard) accessible. We need a good alternative.

The most robust solution would be:

  • 3 separate input fields of type `text` with a placeholder to hint about the expected format [mm] [dd] [yyyy]. It seems like some AT like Dragon doesn’t handle the HTML5 type=date very well. This could do with more user testing
  • client validation
  • clicking on the fields also opens a datepicker, at that point Andrea doesn’t mind about the datepicker accessibility since there are standard input fields

Gutenberg 469 Expandable UI sections accessibility
The point is:

  • either the expanded panel immediately follows the toggle that expanded it
  • or focus should be managed properly

Gutenberg 6468 WritingFlow should exclude standard input fields
WritingFlow is the Gutenberg feature that allows to go through all blocks using the arrow keys
It’s intended to emulate the native behavior in a textarea, as all the blocks were part of a unique textarea (and under the hoods, they are)
So when you’re in a block and press the Down arrow key, you navigate through the block text content and then to the following block. Also Left / Right arrows are used for WritingFlow. However When focus is within an input field, that becomes very confusing.

We proposed to add Milestone 5.00 to this issue, as this seems pretty essential for keyboard users.

Weekly team meeting

The work on the Handbook Best Practices is on hold, because we @samikeijonen en @rianrietveld need time to prepare for their workshop a11y testing at WordCamp Europe.

The pair programming plan for the WordCamp Europe contributor day goes well, we have a11y experts and Gutenberg devs that want to participate. Hopefully we can get some more people joining the GutenA11y table then.

@afercia asked for a11y testing of the new block inserter for Gutenberg. See #6636 Try inserter with collapsable panels. It still needs some further simplification, like removing some ARIA stuff. This functionality is installed on our test server ( Rian will ask some people to test, if you need access give her a ping on Slack.

@abrightclearweb is going to lead the accessibility table in Glasgow.



  • Test the new Gutenberg block inserter: everyone
  • Write about what WCAG 2.1 means for the WordPress project: Rian (planned for end of May)
  • Write ATAG statement: Joe Dolson


Pair programming on the contributors day

The accessibility team plans to organise pair programming for Gutenberg on the WordCamp Europe contributor day, pairing up accessibility experts and Gutenberg developers.

There are still 11 issues open for the Merge Proposal: Accessibility. And they need to get fixed soon.

The a11y team doesn’t have enough expertise to write some of the pull requests for the Gutenberg milestone issues and most Gutenberg developers have not enough expertise on web accessibility. So pairing them up at the contributor day seems like the best solution to get work done quickly.

Are you a developer that knows her/his way around the Gutenberg code and are you going to WordCamp Europe in Belgrade? Please help us out! Give @rianrietveld a ping in WordPress Slack and we will add you to the Gutena11y table.

There will be free cookies.

This week in WordPress Accessibility, May 9th, 2018

Gutenberg Bug scrub

We discussed issues marked for the Gutenberg merge proposal milestone accessibility.

Publishing Flow accessibility:
The conclusion of the discussion with this ticket is: we need to work with the current design and get that working for keyboard. We should probably start trying to fix keyboard interaction, tab order, focus management, etc. Needs a developer.

Link boundaries don’t work with Safari 11.0.1 when using VoiceOver:
Andrea tested the issue again and closed it: current Safari stable is 11.1 (which was Safari Technology Preview at the time this issue was created) so now boundaries work when using VoiceOver.

Consider a mechanism to customize shortcuts, e.g. Ctrl + backtick:
There is a good discussion with the issues but no PR or actual progress so far.
Still marked for merge proposal, because without this some features are not available for all users. Needs a developer.

Components and features should be logically placed within the main regions:
From a coding perspective, it’s mainly about the publishing flow.
Once that is fixed, it should be made clear in the Gutenberg developers documentation that any UI must live inside the landmark regions, with the exception of modals and the like, since they’re typically injected before the closing <body>.

Reminder: audit all the aria-labels:
@grahamarmfield is making a list of all current aria-labels.
It will be quite a job to create clear labels for all items.

Switches should always show On/Off label:
This is a design decision that conflicts with accessibility. It’s hard to create consensus over this.
Our question: what is the value of these switches compared to native checkboxes, besides being pretty. Native checkboxes are universal, simple, clear and very accessible.

Team meeting


Going steady. We just need people to read the pages in the section Best Practices. For readability, completeness and accuracy. Volunteers are very welcome


About the Gutenberg Assistive Technology manual: Rian talked with the docs team and the best place for a Gutenberg AT manual will be the new HelpHub. We now have access to write content there. Maybe (in the far far future ) we can convert it into an overall AT manual for the Admin.

The Gutenberg “Inserter” is probably going to change, there’s one more iteration and a pending PR that changes it significantly. In a first look it’s an improvement, accessibility wise.

Andrea explored the re-ordering of elements surrounding the blocks and this proposal by @melchoyce could help a11y: Display block tools underneath the block, instead of to the sides.

WordCamp Europe

We plan to organise a “Pair/Peer programming with a Subject Matter Expert and Dev” for the WCEU contributor day.

The a11y team has not enough expertise to write a pull request for some of the milestone issues and the Gutenberg developers have enough expertise on web accessibility. So pairing them up at the contributor day seems like the best solution to get work done quickly. We will write a dedicated blog post about it and make some noise to recruit developers.


  • Write ATAG statement: Joe Dolson
  • Write about what WCAG 2.1 means for the WordPress project: Rian (planned for end of May)
  • Organise Gutenberg Pair/Peer programming for WCEU contributor day: Rian (this and next week)

And further…

May 17th is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#DAAG) with many events you can attend.

For those of you who have not subscribed yet: A11y Weekly is a excellent newsletter by @davidakennedy with news and resources on Web Accessibility.


This week in WordPress Accessibility, May 4th, 2018

Bug scrub

We discussed issues marked for the Gutenberg merge proposal milestone:

Simplify and streamline keyboard navigation through blocks:
First: what if the block toolbar had only one tab stop and navigating through its controls would be possible with the arrow keys? Would users be able to get it?
Interaction modal: ARIA toolbar example
Conclusion: we are going to try this and let it test by some advanced keyboard / screen reader / VIM users

Second: the tab order
A good tab order would be for example: insert block, then editable area and then the rest. But should the visual order meet match DOM order? @afercia will try to investigate on the first two things in the next days

Constrain tabbing within popovers and similar components:
Alexander Botteram is working on a modal component that introduces a re-usable “constrain tabbing” feature.

Publishing Flow accessibility:
Nic Bertino did research on this and created a design proposal, that needs following up by the design and develop team.

Weekly meeting


We added new pages added about Test for web accessibility to the handbook’s Best Practices chapter. If there are people who want to review what is published, please do.

Sami Keijonen tweeted posts from the handbook in a series on Twitter. Nobody uses Facebook in the team, so we won’t start a Facebook campagne.


Summarised: Minor fixes went in, the bigger issues are still to solve.

We need to write a manual for AT users. We need people who are familiar with Gutenberg to be involved in writing the manual for AT users of Gutenberg. We can start outlining the processes and AT combinations to be documented. Rian will investigate what the best place is to publish this manual. Rian and Sami want to help writing.

We will dedicate our weekly bugscrub now on Gutenberg for now

We need to contact someone from Dragon about issue raised by Eric Wright: Can’t add a post title using speech recognition software.

Open Floor

Nicolas Steenhout has a podcast: A11y Rules. He’d love to speak to people that are NEW to accessibility, either working full time in it, or developers that are exploring #a11y.

So, if you think that’s you, please contact him, always nice to hear new voices


  • Write ATAG statement: Joe Dolson
  • Write about what WCAG 2.1 means for the WordPress project: Rian
  • Find the best place for the Gutenberg AT handbook: Rian




Accessibility team meeting, April 23, 2018

Transcript in Slack

Meeting notes

Time for next meetings

We picked a new time for the weekly a11y bugscrub and team meeting:

During the daylight saving time (as in now):

  • Accessibility bug scrub: Wednesday 14:00 UTC
  • Accessibility Team meeting: Wednesday 15:00 UTC

Starting next week, May 2, so the meeting on Monday 30th will be cancelled.


After the handbook is sort of finished we want to maintain it via GitHub. That way more people can contribute or file issues. @nicbertino will help migrating the content we have now to GitHub and we are looking for an easy way to push the GitHub pages back in the handbook pages on

Kudos to WPTavern for publishing a post about the handbook and the need for help.
At the moment we don’t need writers, but we desperately need reviewers with knowledge of accessibility and native English speakers to go through the pages on Best Practice we have published or are in draft on Google Docs.

@samikeijonen will post a series of tweets on @WPAccessibility to promote finished content in the Best Practice section. Which already gave discussion on Twitter, so that works well 🙂


AT WordCamp London @karmatosed joined the a11y table and we discussed the issues on GitHub that have priority.
They are 13 issues labeled Accessibility and Milestoned Merge proposal: Accessibility. Some are also labeled High Priority.
@abrightclearweb researched the blocks – keyboard interaction (Tab, Shift+Tab) and added that info to the issue Simplify and streamline keyboard navigation through blocks.

These issues need to be worked on. The team is worried those issues can not be addressed before the merge proposal.


Change of the day and time of the Accessibility Team Meetings

We picked a new time for the weekly accessibility bugscrub and team meeting, so more people can be present and less people will be very hungry:

During the daylight saving time (as in now):

  • Accessibility Bug Scrub: Wednesday 14:00 UTC
  • Accessibility Team meeting: Wednesday 15:00 UTC

We’ll adjust the time after the daylight saving period, so the meetings stay on the same local time.

Starting next week, May 2nd, so the meetings on Monday 30th will be cancelled.


New time/date for the wpa11y meeting in Slack?

We want to set a new time and maybe new date for the wpa11y meeting in Slack.
Please add your suggestions in the comments below.

Accessibility team meeting, April 9, 2018


  1. Accessibility statement
  2. Handbook
  3. Gutenberg, priorities for WordCamp London
  4. Contributor drives
  5. Open floor

Meeting notes

Accessibility statement

The WordPress project now has an accessibility statement. We still need to add an ATAG (Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines) statement to add to that page. @joedolson will write that, sometime in the near future.

Accessibility Handbook

At the moment @rianrietveld and @samikeijonen are writing pages about how to test for accessibility to add to the handbook best practices chapter, for developers, designers and content managers. This at the request of the Gutenberg team. The pages are in draft now, to be published this or next week.

Gutenberg, priorities for WordCamp London

@karmatosed suggested the following workflow for this:

  • sit down together at a11y table on the contributor day prioritising all a11y issues in a spreadsheet
  • create a solid few weeks plan for accessibility, get everything in milestones, get everything so we all know we’re on track
  • get a ‘hot list’ from that and give easy wins to developers present at  the contributor day
  • leave that clearly knowing what needs to be done for a11y and how help can get there
  • focus on a plan of tasks and that all tasks have enough information to be developed by anyone working on project

Contributor drives

Angela Jin asked us to write up content for their info pages about work that can be done for the different teams during a contributor drive (a bite sized contributor day). @rianrietveld also adjusted the page Getting Started at a Contributor Day for this too.
If a contributor wants to select an a11y task:

  1. Tell the #accessibility channel in WordPress Slack that you are hosting a Contributor Drive and request specific projects and direction.
  2. If you need assistance during the Contributor Drive, ask questions in Slack.

To avoid having to maintain a page with a list of tasks in the documentation of the contributor drive.

Open floor

  • @postphotos came with the idea of organising “contributor drives” in regions across the world, focused on a11y. Like the translation days. He will research this further. We agreed this is a fun idea (wpa11y day?)
  • @arush will publish her research on the screen reader accessibility of Gutenberg this week
  • We had a discussion about adding hreflang to links in translatable strings, like e.g. <a href="%s" hreflang="en"> . Adding the hreflang="en" in the translation triggers a warning
  • We discussed setting a new date/time for the meetings. There will be a separate post about this tomorrow.



The WordPress project now has…

The WordPress project now has an official accessibility statement:

Accessibility of Gutenberg, the state of play


How accessible is Gutenberg in its current state (version 2.4)? To answer this the Accessibility team set up a list of minimum requirement, did code reviews and research, gave recommendations and set up user tests.

The short answer is:

  • Gutenberg still needs extensive work to meet basic standards, like keyboard accessibility and semantics
  • Especially for screen reader users, Gutenberg as it stands right now is a dramatic step back in usability
  • We need to write a manual/documentation for assistive technology users

From the start

During development, almost from the start, Andrea Fercia (@afercia) did extensive a11y (accessibility) testing and research. He and others created issues labeled accessibility on GitHub to address the issues found (Andrea created more than 50 of them).

At the moment 70 a11y issues are open, 166 are closed. A lot has been addressed, but there are still very important issues open (like for keyboard accessibility, tab order and navigation).

User testing

When Gutenberg 2.3 was released, Tammie Lister (@karmatosed) considered it ready enough for a complete accessibility test.

We wrote a user test, that includes the basic functionality needed to publish a post. Like add a title, headings, paragraphs, a list, a table an image and a video, use the block options and publish.

On our testserver we installed the plugin, version 2.3, and gave our a11y test team access. Joe Dolson also recruited accessibility experts for a test of version 2.4 at the CSUN conference. All results are reported in the Google spreadsheet Gutenberg a11y test results.

So far we’ve got good quality test results for

  • Keyboard only
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking
  • VoiceOver / Safari
  • NVDA / Firefox

Andrea created new GitHub issues from the reported problems or added extra information with the already reported ones.

Videos with user tests

Note: These users (Eric Wright and Sina Bahram) are leading accessibility experts, using their assistive technology on a daily basis and using WordPress for their work.


Minimum requirements before merge

To set a baseline, what should be fixed before merge we set up a list of requirements:

  1. Keyboard navigation through blocks needs to be greatly simplified and streamlined
  2. For some components, there’s the need to constrain tabbing within the component (i.e. they should behave like “modals”)
  3. The publishing flow needs to be simplified, currently its accessibility is terrible
  4. Everything needs to live inside the landmark regions
  5. Text mode: a simple textarea is the only guarantee to enable users to publish content, regardless of the device / technology they use
  6. Write documentation for keyboard and screen reader users.
  7. Consider a mechanism to customize shortcuts, e.g. Cmd/Ctrl + backtick, see issue #3218
  8. Block toolbars position counter intuitive for keyboard users, see issue #3976
  9. The Date picker must be keyboard accessible

Severe issues

One of the most severe issue is the keyboard accessibility. The keyboard tab order is unpredictable. The tab order for and backwards is not the same. Publishing a post is a puzzle and the date picker is unreachable with a keyboard only.

Another issue is the need for quick navigation tools, like shortcuts and better use of landmarks and headings. There are so much more actions to take for adding or modifying a block. Compared to the current classic editor, publishing a post with a screen reader takes much more time and effort.

Because the extensive use of icons, voice recognition users have to guess the accessible names for buttons to activate them. This needs a design decision.

Actions to take

  • Fixing the keyboard accessibility and screen reader navigation is a high priority. Andrea opened issues for this and we need to prioritize these
  • At WordCamp London and Europe we will do extra user testing with assistive technology and discuss the results with Tammie Lister and the Gutenberg developers present
  • The accessibility team needs to take responsibility for the manuals and documentation. This documents only can be written after the minimum requirements as listed above are met

#accessibility-usertest, #gutenberg