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!