Screen reader user experience with Gutenberg

The last weeks we let the WPA11y test team try out GutenbergGutenberg The Gutenberg project is the new Editor Interface for WordPress. The editor improves the process and experience of creating new content, making writing rich content much simpler. It uses ‘blocks’ to add richness rather than shortcodes, custom HTML etc.


Working with blocks takes some getting used to. I don’t like it when the editor takes over the way I work this way. Can I switch this off? I see now that there is a link in the list table: “Classic editor”. This should be easier to find.
I can imagine blocks will be useful in some cases. The future will tell.

While selecting and copying text in the blocks strange things happen. The cursor gets lost and I have to click the mouse to return into the text.

With the blockBlock Block is the abstract term used to describe units of markup that, composed together, form the content or layout of a webpage using the WordPress editor. The idea combines concepts of what in the past may have achieved with shortcodes, custom HTML, and embed discovery into a single consistent API and user experience. settings the user can select colours for text and background. It would be useful to have the name visible on hover. This will be useful for colourblind people.

User of JAWS/IE: There is way to much going on and far too many menus to deal with. With the current version I can hit the f key 3 times and get to the Title, now it takes 3 times as much if I manage to land on it after trying to add something. I find it very difficult to accomplish anything because of the many menus and options. Please let the option for the “Classic editor” stay.

User of NVDA/FF56: Well I doodled with the editor, the best thing about it, well there isn’t, I guess the heading where the title should be is nice.
The rest, I was able to add a block of text, typing it up but the publish menu I couldn’t exactly navigate, I preferred the button as it was.

There are a lot of buttons a lot unlabeled. I found Gutenberg full of clutter, buttons and the like.

Wrapping this up

Blind screen reader users have a hard time navigating and figuring out how things work. That’s understandable, all users have that issue while they learn the new interface. But Gutenberg is a much worse user experience for them, lots more buttons to click and actions to take for the same task. A way to help them may be keeping the option for the classic editor.

I think we started too soon testing Gutenberg with the wpa11y test team. Most of them kind of broke down on Gutenberg and don’t want to take the energy to test anymore. Lesson learned for next time.

Thanks Geoff Collis, Wim Moons and Shaun Everiss for testing.