Gutenberg Accessibility Progress Report

Since the release of Gutenberg 4.1.0, 18 pull requests labeled as accessibility issues have been committed to Gutenberg. Not all of these fixes are in the current release (4.2), as work has already begun on Gutenberg 4.3.

Major issues include:

  1. Issue 3836: Gallery block: images and selection and removal not keyboard accessible. Addressed in Pull Request (PR) 3836. Still needs further testing and fixes to image labeling that needs to consider cases where the user-provided images do not have alt attributes.
  2. Issue 9583: Keyboard navigation when inserting a block has unexpected behaviour. Addressed in PR 11088. This is a significant change towards making keyboard navigation behave more predictably.
  3. Issue 8266: Can’t edit an existing link using only the keyboard. Addressed in PR 10983. Fixes an accessibility regression from after Gutenberg 2.9.0 that made this impossible.
  4. Issue 8079: Sidebar header: avoid focus loss and other improvements. Addressed in PR 10917 and PR 10927.
  5. Issue 10583: Regression: The inserter search results don’t use an audible message any longer. Fixed in PR 10755.

These changes include important changes impacting the reliability and predictability of Gutenberg for assistive technology (AT) users. More of the blocks are functional for AT, and navigation tools work more predictability.

The remaining 12 pull requests primarily address a variety of minor interaction issues and labeling issues.

There are 89 open accessibility issues on Gutenberg. 

Pull Requests in Progress

There are 23 pull requests in-progress and labeled for Accessibility, as well. PR 11403 is particularly important in moving towards a more accessible publishing flow, partially solving the issues raised in Issue 4187. Another key in-progress PR is PR 11218, which provides alt attributes on images in the editor that don’t have author-provided alt text. This will be key in completing the resolution of issue 3836, above.

PR 10462 is in early stages of development, but would make a significant difference in resolving some of the keyboard challenges in navigating between the sidebar block settings and the block itself, by moving the block controls after the block in the DOM. In the example keyboard navigation provided in the Accessibility Status Report last week, this change would eliminate 13 of the 34 keyboard stops in that process.