Thank you to @joedolson and @alexstine for collaborating to write this post.
With WordPress 6.1 around the corner, this post brings together the many accessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility) improvements and fixes to look forward to that might be hard to discover amongst the details of 500+ bugs and enhancements. As always, there’s more work to be done with accessibility requiring an ongoing effort and commitment.
If you’re interested in helping with this work, please join the #accessibility channel in Make Slack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. (need a slack account to view) and check out how you can get involved. There are numerous ways to get involved in this important work including testing, giving accessibility feedback, and creating PRs to address feedback.
Most notably, 6.1 will see the introduction of both Twenty Twenty-Two and Twenty Twenty-Three marked as accessibility ready, making them both the first default block 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. themes to do so (and only default block themes). This helps open up more folks to the world of block themes and broader site editing features.
WP Admin (and super admin) Screens
Across the many screens in WP Admin, improvements abound. Changes range from improvements in color contrast on the plugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party screen during recovery mode, to a switch from a text input to a textarea field in the media library, so users are better able to see the content of the field while editing.
Login and Registration
To better call attention to the many improvements to this form, this section has been pulled out of the WP Admin Screen section. While this is a lesser used interface, the accessibility improvements are quite significant for this release, addressing many longstanding problems. This includes proper labels for required fields, explicitly associating errors with input fields so folks know what actions to take where, improved labels for radio buttons, and more.
Site Editor/Template Editor
Even though the Site and Template editors both use blocks, there are some specific accessibility challenges for these new interfaces in a site editing world. More work is needed and, if you’re keen to help, please join the FSE Outreach Program where you can go through calls for testing to provide feedback, find bugs, and more.
The navigation block continues to be a powerful and complex block, especially in the world of block themes. While there are fallbacks and an improved menu management experience to look forward to in this release, there is also a nice set of accessibility related fixes to make this necessary block usable for more people in more situations.
General Block Editor (other blocks, writing flow, components, etc)
This section covers a wide range of items including everything from improvements to additional blocks, like a focus loss fix for the Table block, and larger improvements to functionality like the Tools Panel. Specifically, the Tools Panel helps power part of the experience of using the numerous design tools present in more blocks for this release. It’s what you’d interact with to interact with more tools or reset changes. Improving the accessibility of this single tool has a cascading impact by improving the experience everywhere it’s used.
Comments now include proper contextual attributes for autocomplete fields, proper labels for the visible text describing required fields, and improved accessibility (and translatability) of the logged in as link.