Accessibility Team Update: June 11, 2014

New Accessible Theme

Joe Dolson is working on a new accessible theme for the Cities series using an innovative modular approach for accessibility by gathering up accessibility concepts into separate files.

Joe says:

“I’m explicitly placing all the accessibility-specific code into a11y.php and a11y.js, to make them easy to find. This is intended to be a useful resource for theme developers, so I want everything to be easy to find.”

Also of note is skiplinks.js which fixes a bug in WebKit. Simply using an anchor link for the skiplink isn’t enough for WebKit, because keyboard focus will not follow visual focus without Javascript. Joe will be presenting this new theme in a session at WordCamp Chicago this weekend.

Accessibility Theme Check Process Enhanced

We are aware that a few themes that are not accessible have arrived in the theme directory with the #accessibility-ready tag. Perhaps the theme creators misunderstood the tag or copied it from another theme without thinking. We got a message from someone who knows accessibility that he bought a theme based on the fact that the free version has the #accessibility-ready tag. Expecting it to be accessible, he was disappointed. Contacting the theme creator he found out that they will be uploading a new free version without the tag.

Joe Dolson on the process:

“We’re still struggling with themes getting through the process without getting audited, but we have a recourse for this now. The official policy is to give the author notification that their theme needs to go through the accessibility-ready review to keep the tag, and that they have 72 hours to begin rectification – either by uploading a new version without the tag or by uploading a new version that will begin the process of meeting the accessibility-ready requirements. After 72 hours without a response, the theme will be suspended from the theme repository.”

Unification of Visual Focus Indication

It is essential to provide a visual cue to sighted keyboard-only users letting them know where they are on the page. There is no standard look for visual focus indicators. The issue is made more complex because user agents approach this in different ways. @helen talked with us last week and this week again about the fact that the visual look of focus indicators is not unified, and in some instances is not perceivable. For example, on the Media Library screen this is a screenshot showing “apply” button with dotted line focus indicator active and it is not perceivable. One tab press to the right of the “apply” button is the “All dates” select menu selected with a screenshot showing “All dates” select menu with blue glow and dotted line.

The base look might be the approach taken by WebKit, a blue glow. A base look with more than one element is what we seek. Even if the color blue cannot be perceived there is still the glow. This week we have a goal of organizing the approach to the UI in such a way that the visual focus indicators are unified and perceivable.