Mastering Frontend WordPress Website Accessibility: Best Practices and Tools

Writing books on WordPress for nearly two decades has taught me a thing or two about the platform and its capabilities. The internet is our modern-day playground, a hub for news, and, in many ways, our lifeline to the broader world. Yet, not everyone rides this digital wave in the same manner.

Frontend WordPress website accessibility? It’s more than just jargon. It’s the heart and soul of ensuring that our work in the WordPress space (and beyond!) is tailored for everyone. 

The mission is straightforward: crafting a space that’s not just inclusive but also genuinely accessible. So that John, Jane, and everyone in between can surf, read, and interact without a hitch. After all, in this expansive digital age, shouldn’t our web be welcoming to all?

The only answer is: Yes.

What Is Website Accessibility?

Website accessibility refers to the design and development practices aimed at creating websites that are perceivable, operable, and understandable by a wide range of users, including those with disabilities. This includes but is not limited to people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments, temporary or permanent.

It’s about ensuring that every nook and cranny of a website is built in a way that everyone, and I mean everyone, can perceive, operate, and grasp it. Whether it’s a fleeting condition like having an arm in a cast or a lifelong challenge with cognitive processing, our digital realms should open their doors wide. Because, at the end of the day, a truly inclusive digital world is the one where everyone gets a seat at the table.

What Is Website Accessibility?

Why Is it Important?

Website accessibility is essential because it promotes inclusivity and equal access to information and services. When WordPress websites are accessible, they extend their reach to a broader audience.

Picture it: a digital world where every click, every scroll, and every hover is a step towards a more inclusive experience. Why is website accessibility so important? Simple: it’s about granting everyone their digital passport, ensuring that no one’s left behind. With an accessible WordPress site, you’re not just welcoming a few; you’re rolling out the digital red carpet for all.

Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a responsibility. 

Beyond ethical considerations, the moral compass points us in the direction of accessibility, there’s also the rule book to consider. And trust me, it’s not just about being a good digital citizen. There’s the legal landscape to navigate, with signposts named ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) ensuring we’re on the right track. So next time you’re designing or tweaking that site, remember: inclusivity is the name of the game, and there’s a whole world out there waiting to join in.

Who Benefits from Accessible Websites?

People with Disabilities

Accessible websites empower individuals with permanent or temporary disabilities to browse the internet independently. Whether it’s a screen reader, voice commands, or keyboard navigation, accessible design accommodates their unique needs.

People with Temporarily Limited Abilities

An accessible WordPress website can be beneficial not only to people with permanent disabilities but also to those with temporary inconveniences. For instance, a parent holding an infant while browsing the web or an auto mechanic with greasy hands searching for an auto part on an eCommerce website can also benefit from it.

Elderly Users

Older individuals often face challenges in using the web due to age-related impairments. Accessibility features make web content easier to understand and navigate for this demographic.

Mobile Users

Mobile devices are ubiquitous, and accessible web design ensures seamless user experiences on various screen sizes and devices.

Search Engines

Accessible WordPress websites have better SEO because they offer clear, structured content that search engines can understand.

People with Disabilities

Best Practices for Frontend WordPress Website Accessibility

To make your WordPress website more accessible, follow these best practices.

Use Semantic HTML: Properly structured HTML with semantic elements (i.e., headings, lists, and landmarks) ensures a logical and navigable page structure.

Provide Text Alternatives for Non-Text Content: Add alt text to images, use transcripts for audio and video content, and ensure all non-text content is perceivable.

Use Accessible Colors and Contrast: Choose color combinations that are easy to read for users with vision impairments. Aim for sufficient color contrast between text and background.

Make Your Website Keyboard Accessible: Ensure all interactive elements can be operated using a keyboard alone. Keyboard navigation is vital for people who cannot use a mouse.

Test Your Website with Assistive Technologies: Regularly test your website with assistive technologies such as screen readers, voice recognition software, and keyboard navigation to identify and address accessibility issues.

Tools for Accessible WordPress Websites

These tools can help you create and maintain accessible WordPress websites.

  1. The WordPress Accessibility Plugin: This plugin helps you identify and fix accessibility issues within your WordPress site. It offers a range of features to improve website accessibility.
  2. The Axe Accessibility Scanner: Axe is a browser extension that scans your website for accessibility issues and provides detailed reports on what needs improvement.
  3. The Wave Accessibility Evaluation Tool: Wave is an online tool that checks your web content for accessibility issues. It offers clear feedback and suggestions for fixing problems.

Frontend Accessibility Is the Right Thing to Do

Frontend WordPress accessibility isn’t just a noble endeavor—it’s a legal mandate in many areas. It’s about being smart with your digital real estate. Adhering to best practices and employing the right accessibility tools not only expands your reach and keeps you legally compliant, but it also positions your website as an inclusive platform. And isn’t that the whole point of your website? 

Here are some specific actions you can take to enhance the accessibility of your company’s website:

  1. Conduct Regular Website Audits: Conduct regular website accessibility audits of your website to identify and address any new issues. For more information, contact WebDevStudios and ask about our WordPress website audit services.
  2. Choose the Right Host: A WordPress managed hosting service that offers accessibility features, reliable performance, and rock-solid security will greatly support your goals of having an accessible website. This is one of the reasons WebDevStudios partners with Pagely for our client projects.
  3.  Engage with the Community: Appoint team members to join online communities and forums dedicated to web accessibility. Seek feedback and guidance from experts in the field.
  4. Educate Yourself: Continuously learn about web accessibility and stay updated with the latest guidelines and standards. We recommend relying on these resources.
    1. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): The official guidelines for web accessibility standards.
    2. WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices: A guide on using WAI-ARIA to improve web accessibility.
    3. WebAIM: A comprehensive resource for web accessibility, including tutorials, articles, and tools. 

Start your journey towards a more accessible web today, and make a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals. If you need help achieving that, reach out to us.

Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Lisa Sabin-Wilson is the Co-Founder and COO of the website design and development agency WebDevStudios. A sought-after speaker and presenter at numerous conferences and WordCamp events, Lisa is also the exclusive WordPress expert author for the instructional reference books brand For Dummies, having written five books for the series. Considered a WordPress pioneer, Lisa has been designing websites for over 15 years.

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