Make WordPress Accessible

Updates from July, 2013 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • esmi 9:34 am on July 19, 2013 Permalink

    Accessible Polls and Surveys 

    We are always looking at ways to increase feedback from disabled users of WordPress. The more we know about the issues that people face every day, the more we can advocate for positive changes.

    We also appreciate that it can be very daunting to post a comment on a blog like this one. So we would like to look at using short surveys and simple polls as a way of allowing people to give us their feedback as simply and as easily as possible. That, however, raises a whole new set of potential problems. We need to ensure that whatever tools we do use are as accessible as possible.

    This where you come in.

    Please tell us about any accessible survey and poll applications that you know of.

    • jebswebs 3:06 pm on July 19, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I like SurveyGizmo. They were the first to make their survey tools accessible long before any of the others even knew what accessibility meant. They have several templates that are designed specifically for accessibility and some decent mobile templates as well.

    • After Gadget 3:19 pm on July 19, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I can’t think of any survey tools that are particularly accessible. The one I’ve used the most is survey monkey, and I couldn’t seem to make it work with Dragon, though I was much less proficient at Dragon at the time, so maybe it is actually better than I think. I had to fill it out though because it was the Census. But I did want to let you know that I am happy to fill out whatever survey you come up with. :-)mouse window

    • _Redd 4:51 pm on July 20, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @After Gadget That would be AWESOME help! Thank you SO much!

  • esmi 11:10 am on July 18, 2013 Permalink

    IRC Meeting: July 17, 2013 

    Long time no meetup update! Our regular IRC meetings have still been taking place every Wednesday at 19:00 UTC But we’ve been so busy that it’s been hard to stop and provide updates.

    Last night’s meeting focused on how to gain a better insight into the real problems that some WordPress users face every day. We also discussed ways to increase the flow of information from those users so that we can advocate high priority changes on their behalf. We’ll be posting about some of our ideas and asking for your help shortly.

    #wordpress-ui log for July 17, 2013

    • _Redd 1:53 pm on July 18, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As usual, another great meeting. Thank you so much for everything you do.
      In reference to what was discussed last night, I came across this survey from Adobe on screen design that I thought might be a good model to start. I don’t know how “accessible” it is yet, but we can find out!

  • Graham Armfield 4:56 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink

    Accessibility Objectives for WordPress – Initial Thoughts 

    Some of us have been talking recently about pulling together some accessibility objectives for WordPress. These are things that we feel could, or should, be happening to ensure that the profile of accessibility is enhanced with the WordPress community.

    Ultimately, in order to support Matt Mullenweg’s view on the democratisation of the web by web-related software we want as many WordPress websites as possible to be accessible to as many people as possible. We also need to ensure that the WordPress admin screens are not excluding certain user groups from key parts of functionality.

    With that in mind, here is our initial list of objectives. Please feel free to comment on these, and to suggest others that you think are also important.

    (More …)

    • _Redd 9:07 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great list, and provides a great map for a path forward. Huge thanks for putting this together.


      Development of formal education and outreach programs

      So that all WordPress core developers can gain a deeper understanding of the range of issues faced by disabled and elderly users.

      I personally don’t think this should be directed only at core developers, or even mainly at core developers. It should be much broader, so that those who support the supporters are educated. For a real-life example, take the instance in which a manager instructed that the words “text size” small, medium, and large from the web page because it interfered with design, or made color choices that would have made it impossible for those with color-blindness to actually read the web page. The outreach should extend not only to those who code or design, but to those who manage, approve, fund, or are otherwise beholden to the creation that is a web page. If managers understood the impact of their decisions, then that alone would enable designers to build accessible features even at the most basic level.

      Thanks again for what you’re doing here.

    • _Redd 9:19 pm on July 8, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      A couple more things to add.

      1. In the “providing resources” section, what’s the possibility of actually creating a new, accessibility forum in the support forums?

      2. I don’t know how to categorize this, but is it possible to visit “how” accessible themes are made available through WordPress.com and WordPress.org theme search? . I understand the “accessible-ready” tag is a seal of approval, but I’m concerned that the tag may be unfamiliar to a casual user. Perhaps, if we could find out how a casual user searches for such themes (I’m guessing accessible, or accessibility, or a11y) then we could make a point to include those tags so the themes come up better in searches. Right now, for what ever reason, it’s not easy to find them.

      Also, what’s the possibility of adding a pointer to accessible themes from this blog, or some highly visible location?

      Thanks again!

    • Joe Dolson 3:06 am on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The visibility of accessible themes in the WordPress.org theme search is essentially non-existent, as it stands. The theme repository has a controlled tag structure: only the tags listed on the tag filter (https://wordpress.org/themes/tag-filter/) are allowed – there are no tags in the directory not on that list.

      So, we can’t just add random tags; every tag needs to be a unique way of associating that particular characteristic of a theme.

      We can encourage people to use whatever accessibility terminology they choose in their description of the theme; but the “accessibility-ready” tag would still be the only one of definitively pulling up all themes that include that characteristic.

      I’m not sure that the theme search tool is actually all that heavily used; but I don’t really know that. I’ve never used it other than to try and identify accessible themes; searching all terms I could think of.

    • _Redd 12:49 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thankyou (as always!) Joe.

      Let me try to amplify my remarks a little, because I’m not trying to remove the “accessibility-ready” tag from the equation. Not at all. I just think we should be adding additional tags to address the common way in which people search.

      I guess at the heart of it, I ‘m unsure why adding “random” tags is in conflict with the need to have a unique identifier. The unique identifier of “accessibility-ready” is a seal of approval, and we should “market” it that way. But to FIND accessible themes is something else. Additional tags relative to accessibility would help those themes surface. In my mind, it’s no different than having a unique web-site, and using multiple meta-tags in the header for SEO purposes, or to assist in search, or in using #accessibility and #a11y in Twitter, yet having only one, authoritative Twitter site for the WordPress accessibility group.

      For the particular case where someone is logged into WordPress, and searches for a new theme, they go to the page tab, “Install Themes”. The first way they’ll look for the theme is through a keyword search, so the addtional meta-tags of accessibility, a11y, etc. would help there. But the next place they’ll look is the “Feature Filter”—they have themes organized by colors, columns, etc. Can we coordinate with whomever develops the interface so that we could have a section labeled, “accessibility-ready”, or “accessible”, or something like that?

      I hope I’m making sense. At any rate, thanks again, and I’m always looking forward to whatever further input you may have on the matter. Take care.

    • esmi 1:16 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I ‘m unsure why adding “random” tags is in conflict with the need to have a unique identifier.

      Because the whole theme repo system relies on a limited set pre-defined tags. Throwing it open to random tags would stop that system working effectively.

      Can we coordinate with whomever develops the interface so that we could have a section labeled, “accessibility-ready”, or “accessible”, or something like that?

      We already have someone. Well… two someones actually. Myself and Joe D. We both discussed this at length with the rest of the theme review team (who have been tremendously supportive). In order to develop an a11y audit that would work within the overall theme review system, we needed to come up with a single tag that didn’t “over-promise”. Tagging a theme as “accessible” was quickly dropped as – in reality – there is no such thing. A theme can only facilitate the creation of an accessible site. It is not “accessible” within itself. The tag “accessibility-ready” seemed to be the best option and the tag will be added as an option to the theme tag filter once the auditing process is fully up & running.

    • _Redd 4:01 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thank you, much appreciated. I see I was ignorant of the mechanics of theme “tagging” in WordPress.

      And, if the accessibility-ready tag will be added to theme tag filter once the auditing process is up and running, then that fact alone will make the accessible themes more visible.

      Best regards, as always!

    • Aaron Jorbin 4:05 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Regarding appointing an accessibility lead, I’m going to strongly disagree with that. We are going to have much more success in the long run with WordPress if it’s not one person’s responsibility, but instead if everyone takes responsibility for it.

      I strongly support developing some common educational materials. Joe – I would love to see your slides from WCCHi converted into an accessible HTML slideshow and put up on github where others can contribute. We can then advocate that others use this base slideshow and present it at WordPress (and other) meetups around the world.

    • Joe Dolson 5:22 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I actually think that an accessibility lead is necessary. Not so much because it becomes one person’s responsibility, but because it means there’s one person in charge of the decision process. There are aspects of accessibility that are decidedly subjective; having a lead helps to reach decisions more quickly.

      Also, while the long-term depends on having a broader understanding of accessibility within the development community, short-term will benefit tremendously from having a go-to person to communicate with.

      Posting those slides and sharing them for contribution is a good idea; I actually have a few different WordPress A11y slide sets, dependent on type of audience, and I could share them separately.

      • Aaron Jorbin 3:07 am on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        The person in charge of the decision process is the release lead. If they aren’t an expert should they defer to someone else who is? Yes. Much like they generally do now.

        The problem I see with having an accessibility lead is that creates a situation where the entire team no longer feels responsible for accessibility. Every person that contributes to WordPress should own the accessibility of it.

        • _Redd 2:41 pm on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Hi Aaron, speaking for myself only, I agree with you that each contributor should “own” the accessibility of my websites, but I feel just as strongly that there are many like me, who don’t have the expertise to do much of the significant work that needs to be done. It is precisely because there are “lead” members in the current group, who give of themselves not only with coding expertise, but with feedback, that I feel encouraged to work at learning the code that makes WordPress accessible. It would be too overwhelming for me otherwise.

          For me, an accessibility lead would provide the “backup” needed by beginner-level developers such as myself to enable contributions to the larger (and great) picture that is WordPress–and would directly facilitate growing the group with active members.

        • Joe Dolson 7:09 pm on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Alternatively, not having a lead means that no one person feels specifically responsible for finding an answer to a question; a lead would simply mean a point person.

          I feel that for a release, there should be a single point of contact, so that there’s a clear chain of communication during that release cycle.

    • esmi 6:01 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I actually think that an accessibility lead is necessary.

      I agree with Joe but from a different perspective. I think each project/development needs one person who looks at all phases from an accessibility perspective during development. Otherwise, it’s all too easy for potential issues to get lost in the excitement of coding a new feature. I agree 100% that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility but, from a management pov, I think having one person keeping their eye on this particular ball would be tremendously beneficial.

    • After Gadget 10:13 pm on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I really like what was said in the original post, and I’ve also learned a lot from the comments. For example, I did knows some themes were tagged as being more accessible than others. If there were a way to search for themes by accessibility I would have done that in the past and will probably do that in the future.

      One question I have, and I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place for it, and where it says about getting more people involved in that make WordPress accessible group. I tend not to be very involved because I’m not a developer. I don’t know about writing code, etc. I’m just a user so I’m often unsure what I can really contribute. I do have an idea of something that would make WordPress more usable for me as a blogger who uses Dragon, but I’m not sure where I should post that idea.

      Anyway, I’m really grateful that this group exists and that so much skill and care goes into making WordPress accessible. It really makes a huge difference. Using Blogger is a nightmare in comparison to WordPress in terms of access, both as a blogger with disabilities and as somebody who wants my blogs to be accessible to others with disabilities.

      One of the things I like best about what was suggested above is to have more obvious access tags and info/links on every WordPress site because it really feels welcoming and inclusive as the user was not as tech savvy as most of you are (all of you are?) And I think it encourages other people to think about access when it’s just included everywhere as a normal thing that you might want to be searching for.

      • Graham Armfield 7:06 pm on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Hi @AfterGadget. Just wanted to underline what esmi and _Redd wrote. This group is for anyone who would like to see the accessibility of WordPress improve. And if you have any ideas for improvement we’d love to hear them. I’m especially interested to hear about your experiences with Dragon and WordPress – I think it’s an area that hasn’t received enough attention yet.

    • esmi 10:37 am on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I don’t know about writing code, etc. I’m just a user

      That doesn’t matter. We’d love you to join. The whole point point of this group is that it isn’t just for coders. It’s for users as well. That way, if we pool our resources, we have the skills & experience to recognise potential problems, develop solutions and get them into WordPress core. As an experienced Dragon user, your input would be invaluable.

      • After Gadget 2:21 pm on July 18, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I forgot to click “follow” so I could see the responses to my posts until now.

        I use Dragon for everything,including mousing. One of the things that is hardest to do when blogging with Dragon is formatting, such as block quotes, links, centering, inserting images, etc. One of the great things about WordPress for this is that there are keyboard shortcuts for most of those commands, so that I don’t have to click on icon to do them.

        However, to find out what they are I have to hover my mouse over the icon to learn that in the future I use alt shift A for making something into a link. There are two problems with this. One is that hovering a mouse over something is one of the hardest things to do with Dragon, and the other is that part of my disability is severe memory impairment so it’s hard for me to remember which things the keyboard command uses A or U or S, etc.

        So it would be really helpful to have those commands written out somewhere — either on the icons themselves or on some menu that could be visible in the same area as the text box, or ideally both.

        Because what I am doing now is needing to use my touchpad to hover over the thing first find out what the keyboard shortcut is— which is really hard on my wrists — and then write it down on a piece of paper that I can tape to my monitor (writing by hand is also problematic for me). And it will be difficult to get all of those formatting commands onto one small legible piece of paper.

        Maybe these are already written out somewhere and I just need to find them. I know blind users who use screen readers don’t use a mouse to click on icons necessarily, but I am guessing that the text reader reads the alt tag that tells the keyboard shortcut?

        I also am not sure if there is a keyboard shortcut for inserting media. Or for the various steps of inserting media. My memory is that including pictures has been harder for me since I’ve lost most use of my hands, but I can’t remember the specifics. Maybe some of you know what I’m talking about.

        I hope this is helpful and that this is the right place to post this.

    • _Redd 11:21 am on July 10, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @After Gadget Your input is more valuable than you can even believe.

      I am NOT a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, but there are many simple things I can do to increase website accessibility. When I try to improve websites accessibility, I am stuck with the horrible option of either writing it on sheer faith that what I am doing is right, or clumsily and inexpertly trying to use assistive technology to test it. I’m not qualified to use that technology, because I am fully sighted and have full use of my hands. I really need the expertise of those who are real and true experts in the use of assistive technology for real and true feedback as to whether the code “works”. We need you, and we need your expertese.

    • David A. Kennedy 2:29 am on July 11, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @Graham: Huge thanks for putting this together! There’s a ton of great stuff here.

      @After Gadget: Your feedback and involvement is essential! We developers need you to help ensure we do it right, and continue to get better! 🙂

      Regarding the team lead idea: I think a team lead, especially for each release, is vital. I agree with Aaron (and all of you) that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility, but I think a team lead would help keep communication tight. Yes, accessibility challenges center on code more often than not, but it’s also a communication issue many times. An accessibility challenge has to be explained effectively along with potential solutions and the benefits and drawbacks of each. I see the team lead not so much as being responsible for accessibility, but as the bridge between us and the developers and designers. So much of getting to good accessibility solutions is about trust between the accessibility advocates and the rest of the team. Perhaps rotating this slot would help too? A team approach might strike we balance we need.

      Regarding the accessibility statement: I would love to see this. In addition to the normal these are our standards, this is our process and here’s what to do if you have a problem, I would like to also see some “heart” put into it. That’s difficult to explain here, but I see a big opportunity to for the statement to serve as an entry point for people who know nothing about accessibility to learn something. I think it has to have some passion to it, tracing back to how the web’s initial vision was something that everyone could use easily. WordPress has a chance to reach a lot of people in this way because it’s so widely used!

      Regarding the coding and style guidelines/providing resources: I think creating documentation and resources that talks about how certain areas impact accessibility would be great. For example, if we’re developing theme resources, we might talk about how removing the underline on links effects things, etc. Again, I have some resources that might help, and I plan to do a blog series about the creation of Accessible Zen where I highlight some of this stuff. Happy to use that as a testing ground for some of this.

      Regarding education: this is the key. I think we have to really reach the designers and content creators. They are the front lines of accessibility. Yes, the code is vital, but if I’ve been handed a design with little or no thought given to accessibility, we’re in trouble. Similarly, if I have a site that has content in it that has challenge after challenge, we have a long road ahead of us.

      Those are my basic thoughts. Sorry for the long comment. 🙂 Also, I would be happy to and super excited to help with any of this. 🙂

    • _Redd 9:54 pm on July 11, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @David A. Kennedy AWESOME comments….I think we speak for all of us when I say that WE are happy and super excited that you’re here! 🙂 Please join us at our IRC meetings on Wednesdays, if you can, as well as continue to offer any more insights you may have on this blog!

      • David A. Kennedy 12:03 pm on July 12, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Thanks, _Redd! I keep meaning to attend the IRC meetings, but always forget. I’ll have to set a reminder. 🙂 I definitely plan to continue to help out wherever I can.

    • _Redd 1:30 pm on July 16, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      What’s the possibility of setting aside a special web page–or some other common online location–so that developers who need their code tested can put up the test sites in a central location, and those with the expertise to test the code can sign up for real-world testing?

      Something similar to the Khan academy’s page for volunteers, in which lessons that need to be close-captioned or translated are available for volunteers to do so?

      It would allow people who do not code a way to contribute–testing WordPress accessibility and giving the feedback that is so badly needed.

    • _Redd 4:57 pm on July 16, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t thinking deeply enough to recommend it for specifically themes, plugins, or core.

      That said, as someone working on a free, accessible theme, I (selfishly) think that a place to test accessibility for themes would probably be a great place to start. Much of our discussion right now is centered on creating accessible themes, so doing so would help us gain some traction in that regard.

      I think core has the trac system anyhow. That’s intimidating to a lot of people. Having a more benign interface for themes would give non-coders a place to contribute. Lessons learned from the “crowd-sourced” testing could benefit everyone. We wouldn’t have to keep re-inventing the wheel every time an accessibility problem is solved.

      And, if a solution works, then perhaps one of the more expert people in the group could take the solution to trac, for consideration of implementation into core.

    • esmi 7:22 pm on July 16, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As themes and plugins are not “core”, they may not be suited for a Trac-like system anyway. From a purely personal perspective, I think it ultimately has to be down to the developers of these “3rd party add-ons” to take responsibility for a11y levels & issues in their own work. There’s only so much that WPORG can offer in the way of resources.

      Speaking from a theme developer perspective (as that’s the area that I have the most experience in and where the most centrally coordinated a11y outreach may be coming from), theme developers need to use their standard tools along with the Theme Unit Test data to check a11y levels. Longer term they’ll have the option of submitting their theme for an a11y audit as part of a WPORG theme submission – which should (hopefully) give them some valuable feedback. There’s also the theme reviewers mailing list for additional support – although if a11y-specific questions create too much traffic, there might be room later on to establish a better support resource,. Ideally that would be here.

      Does that help at all?

      • _Redd 1:44 pm on July 18, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        In light of last night’s meeting, what do you think of the idea of asking for non-coding volunteers, who use screen readers or other assistive technology, to test the survey forms for us?

    • _Redd 7:38 pm on July 16, 2013 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      That does help–and again, thank you.

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