In today’s digital age, accessibility stands as a crucial consideration, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their abilities or limitations, can seamlessly navigate and interact with digital content.
This concept is particularly significant for WordPress, a platform that empowers millions of individuals to create and manage websites. By embracing accessibility principles, we, as WordPress developers and freelancers, can craft inclusive online experiences that cater to a broader audience, fostering a more equitable and accessible digital landscape. And to do so, let us quickly cover what exactly accessibility means in this context.
Defining Accessibility and Its Importance
Accessibility refers to the practice of designing and developing websites in a way that makes them usable by individuals with disabilities. This encompasses a wide range of considerations, from clear navigation and text formatting to providing alternative text for images and transcripts for videos. It is not just a matter of compliance with legal and ethical standards; but also aligns with the fundamental principles of inclusive design, ensuring that everyone can fully participate in the digital world.
Benefits of Accessible WordPress Websites
Creating accessible WordPress websites offers a multitude of benefits, such as:
· Expand reach and audience: Accessible websites provide a broader range of users, including those with disabilities, and doing so, expands the potential audience for your clients’ businesses and organizations.
· Enhance user experience: Accessibility measures often improve the overall user experience, benefiting all visitors, regardless of their abilities. Clear navigation, readable text, and intuitive interactions contribute to a more enjoyable and engaging experience for everyone.
· Boost search engine optimization (SEO): Accessibility features, such as proper heading structure and alt text for images, can positively impact a website’s SEO performance, increasing its visibility in search engine results.
· Promote brand reputation: Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility reinforces a positive brand image, showcasing a company’s dedication to inclusivity and social responsibility.
· Avoid potential legal challenges: In many countries, accessibility laws mandate that websites adhere to specific standards to ensure equal access for all users. Failure to comply with these regulations can sometimes lead to legal repercussions.
By implementing accessibility, we are helping create the more equitable and inclusive digital world, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to fully engage with the vast resources and services available online.
So, what can we do to make WordPress websites accessible?
Here are a few tips:
· Use clear and concise language
· Use headings and subheadings to organize your content
· Provide alternative text for images
· Use captions and transcripts for videos
· Make sure your website is easy to navigate with a keyboard
· Use high-contrast colors
· Use a large enough font size
By following these tips, we can vastly help in creating WordPress websites that are accessible to everyone. And here’s a more detailed explanation of it all.
Clear and concise language
Effective communication is essential for accessibility, and this starts with using clear and concise language that is easy to understand for all users. Clear is always better than clever so avoid using jargon, technical terms, or overly complex sentence structures. Instead, opt for simple, direct language that conveys your message effectively.
· Instead of “Utilize,” opt-in for “use.”
· Instead of “The implementation of the new system was successful,” use “The new system was successfully implemented.”
Proper use of headings and subheadings
Proper heading structure is essential for both visual and screen reader users. Headings break down content into manageable chunks, making it easier for users to scan and navigate through information. Use them to identify sections, subsections, and subtopics, ensuring a logical seamless flow of content.
For example, use heading levels (h1, h2, h3, etc.) to indicate the importance of each section. Furthermore, use descriptive heading titles that accurately reflect the content of each section.
Alternative text, also known as alt text, provides a textual description of images for users who cannot see them. This includes individuals with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to access website content. Alt text should be exact and concise, informative, and descriptive, providing a clear understanding of its content as well as context.
· For an image of a cat, the alt text could be “A close-up of a tabby cat sitting on a windowsill.”
· For an infographic illustrating the benefits of e-commerce, the alt text could be “An infographic outlining the various advantages of e-commerce, including increased customer reach, reduced overhead costs, and enhanced customer engagement.”
More accessible videos
Captions provide text versions of spoken audio, making video content accessible to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Transcripts offer a complete written version of the audio content, beneficial for users who prefer to consume information in text format. Here’s how you can do it:
· Ensure captions are synchronized with the video’s audio track.
· Use clear and concise language in captions, avoiding slang or informal expressions.
· Provide transcripts in a separate text document or within the video player.
Wondering which tools to use to ensure captions and transcripts? Try using CapCut, Captions App, or Kapwing – with a slight change. All these apps offer animated, colorful features that can be and are a cognitive nightmare. That’s why we advise you to go through Meryl Evans text and in-depth guide with best practices tips to ensure good captioned videos.
Keyboard navigation is highly important and necessary for users who cannot interact with a mouse or touchpad. Ensure that all website elements, including links, buttons, and menus, can be accessed and activated using keyboard shortcuts and tab navigation.
· Assign clear and consistent keyboard focus indicators to highlight interactive elements.
· Provide logical keyboard navigation paths that allow users to move through the website predictably.
· Consider using keyboard navigation plugins to enhance accessibility.
Color contrast story
Color contrast is another significant segment in visual accessibility. Remember the old days with those screaming color website backgrounds and fonts when it hurt to read? Make sure that the text is in contrast with its background color to make it easily readable for users with low vision or color blindness.
· Use a color contrast ratio of 4.5:1 or higher for text against its background.
· Avoid using overly bright or saturated colors that can be difficult to read.
· Consider using color blindness-friendly palettes to ensure readability for users with color vision deficiencies.
Couldn’t finish this off without highlighting the importance of fonts in the context of having accessible websites. Make the font size large enough to be easily read by users with varying visual abilities. This in practice means that you:
· Use a font size of at least 16px for body text.
· Consider using a larger font size for headings and other important text elements.
· Provide options for users to adjust the font size suitable to their preferences.
As WordPress developers, agencies, and freelancers, we hold the power to shape the digital experiences of millions of users. By committing to be more accessible, we can ensure that our work contributes to a more inclusive web. Embracing accessibility best practices not only benefits users but also reflects positively on our skills and commitment to social responsibility.
Knowing that the journey towards accessibility is continuous and ever ongoing, and there is always more to learn and discover, consider exploring the following resources:
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1
- WordPress Accessibility Handbook
- Accessibility Testing Tools:
Let’s keep learning, growing, and implementing accessibility, ensuring that our digital ecosystem truly embraces everyone! What are your thoughts on this topic?