Notable Accessibility Changes in 5.2

In addition to the semantic improvements to tabs in the admin area, there are a few additional accessibility changes developers should make note of in WordPress 5.2.

Post Formats in List Tables

When post formats were used prior to WordPress 5.2, icons representing the specific format were displayed beside the post title in the Posts list table. These icons served as links that filtered the list by the associated post format.

These icons have now been removed in favor of a dedicated dropdown select filter above the list table.

See: #35497, #46591

Admin Bar Submenu Link Markup

In the WordPress admin bar, menu items with nested items used arrow icons generated via CSS with a .ab-item:before pseudo element. Starting with WordPress 5.2 these arrow icons use a wrapper <span> element:

<span class="wp-admin-bar-arrow" aria-hidden="true"></span>

This change should only affect plugins that modify the admin bar using custom icons. Plugin authors are encouraged to use the new markup and adjust their plugin CSS accordingly.

This change is part of a broader effort—tracked in #40428—to progressively introduce best practices to make screen readers ignore CSS generated content when it’s not intended to be available for speech output.

See: #37513

Archive Widget Dropdown Improvements

To add consistency with the Categories Widget, and to improve contextual awareness for those using screen readers and other assistive technologies, WordPress 5.2 will now pre-select the currently viewed archive in the Archive Dropdown Widget.

This is handled through the addition of a new $selected boolean parameter in the get_archives_link() function. By default, $selected is set to true if the current page is the selected archive page. The new parameter is also available in the associated get_archives_link filter.

In addition, four new date-based parameters have been added to wp_get_archives(). By default, $year, $monthnum, $day, and $w are set to the their current date values, and are used to determine the value of $selected to pass to get_archives_link(), as noted above.

Developers utilizing wp_get_archives() may pass in different date values through these parameters to use as the comparison for the currently viewed archive page.

See: #40662

Other Changes of Note

  • A new media view, wp.media.view.Heading, was added to facilitate adding accessibility friendly headings to the media library/modal. This enables those using screen readers to quickly jump between sections of the interface. See #36925
  • Similarly, headings were added to the data tables on the Export Personal Data and Erase Personal Data pages. See #46041
  • Some minor adjustments have been made to the Alt text and URL fields in the media modals. The Alt text field is now the first field displayed, and it has an explanation below it to help educate on proper usage. The label for the “URL” field now says “Copy link” instead of “URL”. See #41612

#5-2, #accessibility, #dev-notes