WordPress goes WCAG

With great pride the WordPress Accessibility Team can announce:

All new or updated code released into WordPress core and bundled themes must conform with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines at level AA.

On February 15th, 2016, the WordPress Accessibility Coding Standards were approved and added to the Core Handbook as a part of the code standards WordPress developers are expected to meet when contributing to core.

What does WCAG 2 AA mean?

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines ensure that people with disabilities can use the web. The current WCAG standards are version 2 and AA refers to the level of accessibility reached. Level A is the most basic standard, while Level AA is used as a reference for a legal standard in many countries worldwide. Level AAA is most commonly only addressed for special dedicated software.

What does this mean for WordPress core?

With every release WordPress gets more accessible for users with disabilities. We’re not there yet — a lot of work still needs to be done on current functionality and interface. We need all the help we can get! The accessibility of the Admin (the administration area of WordPress) is getting better and better. We are researching, testing and fixing accessibility issues in the Admin together with the core developers and our great test team.

What about themes?

The bundled themes, like Twenty Sixteen, already make it easy for you to create a web site that complies with WCAG 2 AA, so when you set up a new installation of WordPress, you’re already on the right track out of the box.

In the WordPress theme repository you can search for themes with the “accessibility-ready” tag. These themes have gone through much the same testing process as the bundled core themes. For every theme with this tag, a member of the WordPress accessibility team has personally checked the theme for keyboard accessibility, color contrast, and a variety of other specific accessibility guidelines. We don’t currently have the depth of reviewers to test every theme update, however, unlike with the core themes, so we can’t guarantee that each theme will continue to meet these standards in future updates.

What about plugins?

The accessibility of plugins is the responsibility of each plugin author. Neither the accessibility team nor the plugin review team have the resources to review each of the more than 40,000 plugins currently in the repository. If you are a theme or plugin author, please take a look at our handbook for best practices and documentation.

What’s next?

Today, 25% of the web runs on WordPress and our mission is to democratize publishing. That is why we will keep moving forward on the accessibility of WordPress: to give everyone, including people with a disability, an excellent and easy to use tool so they can maintain their own website or application.