Many bloggers do not focus on creating content for people with accessibility needs. Improving WordPress accessibility for your site will help bring your content to a wider audience. It will also ensure that no one is excluded from your community. On the whole, WordPress is pretty good where accessibility is concerned.
Improving WordPress Accessibility
The WordPress Accessibility Group has made considerable progress towards ensuring that the world’s most popular content management system is accessible to people with disabilities. But there’s plenty that individual site owners could to make sure that their WordPress site doesn’t exclude those with visual or mobility impairments. In this article, we like to take a look at five straightforward changes that WordPress site owners can make to improve their site’s accessibility.
1. Don’t Forget About Image Alt Tags
Images are a huge part of modern web design. However, for those with visual difficulties, images without alt tags offer a significantly degraded user experience. When you upload images to your site, take the time to put a brief description in the Alternate text box. There is another motivation for including alt tags for your images. They’re also good for search engine crawlers like many other accessibility features.
2. Implement A Sensible Content Hierarchy
Header tags — H1, H2, etc — don’t exist simply for styling headings. Their primary purpose is to give structure to web pages. Screen readers in particular take advantage of properly laid out header hierarchies. Ideally, you should only have one H1 tag on a page. Make ensure that other headers are logically and consistently organized: don’t mix up H2 and H3 tags, for example.
3. Use Meaningful Anchor Text
It’s often difficult for people with visual or mobility impairments to click on links in a page. Many use software to extract those links into a separate list that is easier to use. If all of those links have anchor text that say “this” or “click here,” then the usefulness of such technology is undermined — a list of twenty “click here” links is not helpful to anyone. Using meaningful anchor text allows the links to make sense outside of their immediate on-page context.
4. Avoid Flash
I’m not a huge fan of Flash in any case, and especially not of Flash sliders, but just as Flash is difficult for search engine crawlers, it causes problems for screen readers. You should not put any essential content within a Flash component on your page. jQuery sliders are marginally better, but you should ensure that they are written with accessibility in mind or provide an accessible alternative.
5. Install WP Accessibility
WP Accessibility is an excellent plugin designed to address a some of the more serious problems with WordPress accessibility. For the most part, it’s unobtrusive and doesn’t make significant changes to your site’s appearance, but it does add a number of features that improve user experience for those with accessibility issues.
One of the major improvements WP Accessibility brings is skip links. Skip links are links that help users navigate around the current page. They allow users and software like screen readers to move to important pieces of content and skip features like navigation links.
WP Accessibility will also add visual indications of keyboard focus for on-page elements. Many users navigate pages by keyboard rather than mouse, and a visual indicator of focus is essential. Without these simple changes, a WordPress website can be difficult or impossible for people with accessibility problems to use, which excludes a lot of potential users, readers, and contributors. With a little forethought, there’s no reason that every WordPress site can’t provide a great experience to everyone.
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