Cute yellow WordPress WAAPU mascot holding accessibility symbole
  • Introduction to digital accessibility for websites
  • Who accessibility helps
  • Compliance and the law
  • Benefits
  • Primary elements of accessibility
  • The Dos and Don’ts
  • Plugins & Tools
  • Resources

Watch the video of this meetup presentation on YouTube.

What is an Accessible Website

An accessible website is one that can be used by everyone. This includes:

  • People of all abilities
  • And disabilities
  • Who might use a variety of devices and assistive technology.

Primary reference: W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

Principles of Digital Accessibility

The principles of digital accessibility are often referred to by acronym POUR:

  • Perceivable information and user interface
  • Operable user interface and navigation
  • Understandable information and user interface
  • Robust content and reliable interpretation

Source: w3.org/WAI/fundamentals/accessibility-principles/

Who Accessibility Helps

The number of people impacted by accessibility issues numbers more than 1 billion worldwide, including 1 in 4 adults in the U.S.

  • Blind or visually impaired people
  • Deaf and partially deaf people
  • People with cognitive disabilities
  • People who cannot use a mouse (or keyboard)
  • Neural divergent people
    • PTSD, OCD, anxiety, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.
  • People with seizure disorders
  • People who are not tech savvy
  • People on mobile devices
  • People on slow connections
  • People with older technology
  • Language learners and those who use translation tools
  • Anyone dealing with a temporary disability
  • Anyone encountering a situational limitation

Compliance and the Law

Digital accessibility is the law and there can be consequences. (We are not lawyers.)

  • Rehabilitation Act Section 504
  • Rehabilitation Act Section 508
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
  • Canada: Canadian Human Rights Act
  • UK: Equality Act 2010
  • EU: Web and Mobile Accessibility Director

Getting sued is often used as a scare tactic for using some commercial accessibility products. It can happen – but the solution is creating a better website.

For the Right Reasons: Benefits

An accessible website provides many more benefits than avoiding lawsuits:

  • It’s the right thing to do.
  • Supports organizational values including diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Part of being an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • Increased audience
  • Improved site experiences means increased conversions
  • Mobile ready
  • SEO benefits

Search Engine Optimization

Accessibility means improved SEO.

  • Semantic HTML structure
  • Proper headings for clear document content
  • Well written, understandable content
  • Image alt text increases useful content
  • Meaningful link anchor text
  • Adding transcripts of audio increases content
  • Fewer “special effects” and animations improves load time

A good user experience and clear, valuable content is what search engine algorithms favor.

Cute yellow WordPress WAAPU mascot holding accessibility symbole

Primary Elements of Website Accessibility

Here are key areas of focus:

  • Content structure and readability
    • Proper ordering & nesting of headings
  • Content layout and design
  • Alternative text for images
  • Keyboard navigation
    • Menus, tab order, focus on
  • Clear link text and results
  • Colors and color contrast
  • Form labeling
  • ARIA roles
  • Responsiveness
  • Fewer “special effects” and animations improves load time

The Dos of WordPress Accessibility

  • Embrace accessibility and make it a habit
  • Start with an accessible theme
  • Choose colors thoughtfully
  • Choose fonts and typography thoughtfully
  • Use Alt text for images, efficiently describing the image
    • Use alt=”” for purely decorative images
  • Check if plugins (e.g. forms) are accesssible
  • Write with English Composition class in mind
  • Provide transcripts for audio content
  • Check and confirm captions for video
  • Test regularly
  • Include an accessibility statement and contact if issues are found
  • Continue to ask, explore, and learn

The Don’ts of WordPress Accessibility

  • Panic
  • Ignore or procrastinate
  • Look for automated quick fixes
  • Over design a webpage
    • Be selective with video, animation, etc
  • Don’t autoplay video & images
  • Use any plugins or embeds that will “trap” a user
  • Force links to open in new tab (at least without warning)

Cute yellow WordPress WAAPU mascot holding accessibility symbole

WordPress Plugins

In the WordPress repository, there are many “overlay” plugins that promise accessibility. We will discuss later. Here are some plugins that actually help.

Overlays for Quick Fix Accessibility

Avoid them. They don’t help and they won’t protect you.

Whenever you search for accessibility, you will be inundated with ads for overlays. Please look past them.

Browser Extensions

There are several excellent browser extensions that can help you test your website.


Bookmarklets are pieces of script that launch on a page when clicked like a bookmark. Here are some sources:

Resources: Online Tools

Meetup Groups

There are some Meetup Groups that focus more on accessibility. Don’t forget to search for accessibility, too.

Final Thoughts

Cute yellow WordPress WAAPU mascot holding accessibility symbole
  • Accessibility is not as daunting as it initially feels
  • Good habits mean better websites for everyone
  • The benefits are worth the efforts
    • Try not to think of accessibility as a requirement but rather as a best practice
    • Reach out to the accessibility community – they will help and advise!

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