WordPress provides you with a decent head start when it comes to creating accessible websites. For example, recent default themes like Twenty Seventeen are already built with accessibility in mind. But that doesn’t mean that your work is done.
There are still plenty of items to check off your list to ensure that everyone has access to your site’s navigation and content. Thankfully, this is one of the areas where the plugin development community has really stepped up. We now have access to a wide selection of tools to help us meet the challenges of accessibility.
Here is a collection of WordPress plugins that can help improve your site’s accessibility:
WP Accessibility (authored by Joe Dolson, who we recently interviewed) is a multi-function plugin that solves common accessibility issues.
Its most outward feature is a font size and color contract toolbar that helps users more easily read your content. But it also does a lot of behind-the-scenes work like adding skip-to-content links, implementing an outline to the link
:focus state for better keyboard navigation, utilizing
longdesc for images, and a whole lot more. Each feature can be turned on or off through a settings page.
WP Accessibility Helper adds a user-friendly toolbar to your site that lets users select different color contrasts (they can choose from a selection of color schemes) and adjust font size to their liking. But it goes above and beyond with user options for underlining or highlighting links, grayscale images, changing fonts and keyboard navigation.
The plugin also boasts a DOM scanner that will check your site for various accessibility errors. There’s also a pro version that adds even more goodies.
If you want a simple way to enable users to enlarge text, the Accessibility Widget is a nice option. It’s a minimally-styled widget that offers up “Small,” “Medium,” and “Large” text links. Settings let you determine which HTML elements are affected and how big (or small) fonts should be.
Accessible Poetry adds a floating button that, when clicked, exposes a toolbar to allow for font and contrast changes. You can also zoom in and out of the page, along with mark links, and disable onscreen flashes. But the star of the show is its ALT Platform area inside the WordPress Dashboard. This screen will list any images uploaded to your site that don’t have an ALT tag assigned. Even better, you can set a tag for each image directly from this listing.
Another creation from Joe Dolson, Contact Form 7: Accessible Defaults will provide an accessible starting point for those of you using Contact Form 7.
It’s an important tool because Contact Form 7 isn’t so accessible by default. The plugin adds a selection of accessible form types to use as the basis for your new form. Note that it doesn’t affect pre-existing forms – just new ones. For existing forms, you’ll have to recreate them using the new templates. That’s why it’s recommended that you install this companion plugin on your site at the same time as Contact Form 7.
WCAG 2.0 form fields for Gravity Forms adds some accessibility-friendly features to Gravity Forms. For instance, it will wrap checkboxes and radio fields in a
It also improves the input error notice that users receive, displaying the actual number of errors made. In addition, the plugin adds ARIA attributes to various fields along with other behind-the-scenes tweaks.
wA11y provides a connection to popular accessibility tools that will analyze your site. The first tool is called tota11y and is provided by Khan Academy.
It will annotate all the elements of a web page and point out any issues. The other tool is WAVE, which will provide you with a detailed accessibility analysis of the current page. Each tool will have its own button displayed on the bottom of your site to logged-in users (you can choose which user roles will see the buttons). Just click the button of your choice to start analyzing.
Text-To-Speech PHP/JS Script Converter
Text-To-Speech PHP/JS Script Converter is a commercial plugin that provides a way to convert text into spoken language (many different “voices” are included). It’s multilingual, with support for 44 languages, and doesn’t require any additional framework to function.
This isn’t automated, however. You’ll need to add some code to the HTML wrapper elements for any items you want to enable text-to-speech capabilities. Still, this could be useful in the right circumstance.
If you’re among the many users of the Divi theme, you may want to consider adding Divi Accessibility as well. It adds ARIA attributes, improves keyboard navigation of various elements, and integrates the aforementioned tota11y into the package. This could be a big help in counteracting any accessibility shortcomings within this theme.
WP User Stylesheet Switcher isn’t necessarily an accessibility plugin, but it can be used in a way that does improve access. If the accessible solution for your site is to provide an alternate layout such as a text-only version, this plugin can make the task much easier.
You can provide as many different stylesheets as you’d like, and users will be able to easily switch between them. When you think about it, this may be the simplest solution out there.
Leave No User Behind
The past few years have brought great awareness to the importance of creating an accessible website. While the process of ensuring you’ve covered all your bases takes time, it’s very much worth the extra effort. Using the tools profiled above is a great way to add features (visible or not) that will help every user get the most out of your WordPress site.