WordPress and Web Accessibility

The YYZ is a Nice Place to Be

It’s fair to say that the city of Toronto is reasonably accessible. You can access any major retailer, access restaurants, major sporting events, concerts, and most other public places. Wheel-Trans can even get you there for the same price as the regular TTC cash fare. I must say that Wheel-Trans is probably the best thing the TTC has done in a while. Yes, even the TTC can do some good once in a while.

It’s Called the World Wide Web! Let’s Not Leave Anyone Out

We should give ourselves a pat on the back. Job well done right? Not so fast. There’s still a lot of work to be done. But, this work doesn’t require a hammer or a hard hat. Well, the hammer might come in handy when you try to visit an inaccessible website. No one likes to be left out. So, if we make our buildings accessible, why not apply the same principles to website design?

Accessibility Issues Affect More People Than You Think

According to StatsCan, in 2006 approximately 14.3% of the Canadian population had some kind of disability. With our aging population, it’s safe to say that this number will increase in the near future. It’s also important to remember that disabilities are not limited to the physically impaired. Disabilities may include learning disabilities, developmental, memory, or psychological disabilities as well.

People can also experience temporary disabilities. You could be restricted access to a website just because you were too proud to admit that you’re not the best skier and against all reason, you went on the double black diamond trails.  This happened to me, and it ruined my trip to say the least. There’s nothing worse than waiting in a hospital emergency room while your friends are hitting the slopes. Talk about feeling left out.

It’s Not Just Good Practice, It’s the Law

If you’re still not convinced that accessibility is important, you’re probably going to have to redesign your website sooner or later anyway. In 2014, all public sector organizations, business and non-profit organizations with a staff of fifty or more, must conform with WCAG 2.0.

Kobayashi Cares

At Kobayashi, accessibility is our middle name. We like accessibility so much that we organize meet-ups on the weekend. Yes, we actually spend our weekends discussing WordPress accessibility issues. Most of us wear glasses and we wear our pants pretty tight around our ankles. We’re that cool.

Seriously though, web accessibility is a topic that we truly care about. We recently redesigned a website for one of our clients and we came across some things that we think the online community might find useful.

Nine Nifty Accessibility Tips:

  1. Make sure your entire website is easy to navigate with a keyboard.
  2. Use style a:focus for keyboard access. It shows you where you are on the page.
  3. Create a ‘Skip to Content’ link on every page. This is usually hidden by code. Hence, it’s only visible when using the ‘tab’ function on the keyboard.
  4. All dropdown menus must be accessible with a keyboard
    1. If you’re using WordPress 2013, you can’t access the dropdown menu with the keyboard. Use the ‘Keyboard Accessible Dropdown Menus’ plugin. If you have WordPress 2014, it’s already integrated into the theme.
    2. Use the HG Slider plugin. You can control the slider with the keyboard and it’s responsive.
    3. Make all non-text elements alt tags.
    4. The hierarchy of headers need to be clear.
    5. Test your website’s accessibility with achecker.ca.
    6. Make your forms accessible too
      1. Here’s a useful reference http://webaim.org/techniques/forms/.

Follow these tips and you should be well on your way to creating an accessible website. You’ll be glad you did. Don’t wait till you have to conform to the WCAG either. Make sure you get the edge on the competition. Imagine that you’re the first of all your competitors to make your website accessible. You could be earning loyal customers whilst your competition frustrates people with its shoddy design. It’s hard getting customers and it’s even harder to win them back.