How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the WordPress Community

WordPress and Accessibility. It has always been a difficult discussion. The developers wrote code, without knowing what’s important for someone that doesn’t see a website like they do. And the WordPress Accessibility team could not find the time or voice to help them fix the problems. So we asked members of the WordPress community for help, and they answered!

Accessibility is getting much attention lately. There are more older people online, visual impaired users have access to advanced ways to use the internet, and if you can’t hear well there are now ways to add subtitles to video’s.

Web developers and designers are getting aware that not everyone uses the internet the same way.

WordPress is used for more than 20% of the websites worldwide, so paying attention to its accessibility is important but still left to a small group of volunteers, the Make WordPress Accessible team (MWA). We all have a day time job and also giving back 5% of our time to WordPress, like Matt Mullenweg suggested, is way to little time to get this done properly.

Developers ask the MWA team: what is important, can you test and evaluate, can you look over our shoulder when we develop new functionality?

So we called out for help in the WordPress community. And the response was heart warming. In one week we gathered a group of professionals and users to do regular testing from all over the world.

Users of all kind of assistive technology, professional accessibility testers, regular users, developers, some members of the test team of the Dutch Oogvereniging, a large and diverse group. Exactly what we needed to get the testing and code review of WordPress done properly. I myself was astonished and so thankful that this happened.

Now we send out a mail every week with something to test and get very useful feedback mailed back to us. This we report on a weekly basis back to the core developers. Some of the results are reported immediately to speed up fixing.

We also feel we give disabled WordPress users a voice now, reading about the frustrations they have using the WordPress Admin for example.

If I compare this to 2 years ago, when tickets on the WordPress track where left there with out response for months, we have come a long way.

Core developers take accessibility seriously, and work hard to get issues solved. And we now have a fantastic test team to help us and give feedback.

I always considered the WordPress community as open and helpful, but this is above all my expectations. To the new WordPress Accessibility Test team I want to say:

Thank you so much for your help and time. You are awesome!




Storytelling in HTML: practical accessibility

For my work I build sites for blind people. They use a braille line and screen reader to read and navigate a website. During the development of those websites I learned that blind people read a web page differently than I do.

Blind web users read a page linearly and depend on headings and links to navigate.

This changed the way I build site dramatically, I changed from visual coding to story telling coding. Continue reading Storytelling in HTML: practical accessibility

Working on web accessibility at WordCamp San Francisco 2014

WordCamp San Fransisco 2014 (WCSF14), the place to be if you’re seriously into WordPress. Visiting San Francisco with the accessibility contributors team was a week I won’t forget. It was intense, fun, I spoke a zillion people and learned a lot. Continue reading Working on web accessibility at WordCamp San Francisco 2014

Jet lag and double Dutch at WCSF14

For me WordCamps are all about meeting, learning, talking and discussing. Last week I was so lucky to be able to visit WordCamp San Francisco 2014 (WCSF14) with the accessibility contributors team.

After the conference there was a discussion day about several topics to improve WordPress and two days of working with different contributor teams to make new plans and work together. This last three days were held at Automattic, which was kind of special.

Graham Armfield will blog about what we did as a team and what our plans are, and I blogged about WCSF14 itself, but here’s what I learned personally.

Continue reading Jet lag and double Dutch at WCSF14

How to set up an accessible form using Contact Form 7 in WordPress

Recently I discovered Contact Form 7 (CF7) by Takayuki Miyoshi. A plugin to create forms on a WordPress website. I was looking for an accessible alternative for Gravity Forms, and discovered that Contact Form 7 does an excellent job! Continue reading How to set up an accessible form using Contact Form 7 in WordPress

Teaching WordPress to 23 visually impaired content managers

The Oogvereniging (Eye association) has a WordPress WCAG 2.0 AA website that is maintained by more than 20 volunteers, all with different visual impairments. Teaching them in one afternoon how to use WordPress for adding and maintaining content was not an easy task. Continue reading Teaching WordPress to 23 visually impaired content managers