What if I told you that without being aware of it, you are preventing hundreds of millions of people from properly viewing your website?
According to the World Health Organization, there are 285 million visually impaired people worldwide. These people may disregard your website just because of a technical problem – accessibility.
Aside from visual impairments, there are also other types of disabilities, such as motoric, auditory and cognitive, that may also interfere with visitors’ ability to consume website content. A person who suffers from motor disabilities may not be able to use a mouse, or may have a slow response time that will prevent him/her from noticing slides or pop-ups on your website.
Accessibility issues are not only relevant for people with disabilities. I remember when my late grandfather, then 83 years old, still used the internet for simple tasks like checking his bank account. It was really difficult for him to get around simple online tasks, because of vision and shaking problems. Most website use small font sizes, unreadable fonts or fonts that are poorly contrasted to the background. This makes it really difficult for the elderly to use.
As the world population gets older, it becomes more apparent that site accessibility is becoming a major issue to consider for site owners and developers.
In this article, I want to introduce a simple solution for accessibility issues in WordPress – a themes with 100% accessibility built in. Firstly, I’d like to explain more about these issues.
The Situation: Losing Potential Clients Because Of Accessibility Issues
I’d like to explain the importance of accessibility by giving an example.
John, who wants to buy new clothes for the upcoming winter, goes on one of the popular online clothing stores. When browsing through the different clothing items, he finds himself struggling to read certain product texts and to distinguish between colors of different items. Special offers and sales emphasized in red go unnoticed.
You can test your own website using this Color Blindness Simulator.
As you guessed it, John, as well as approximately 8% of the male population, suffers from color blindness.
Many websites today contain access barriers that inhibit people with disabilities to properly use their sites. These people either avoid browsing the site altogether or quickly leave it because it is inoperable for them. There are potential sales that could have been completed if only the site owner had fixed the accessibility issues.
In order to help professionals develop a more accessible website, the industry standard called the WCAG was developed by W3C.
The Problem: Hard To Implement The WCAG 2.0
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 is the standard guideline that guides you through the process of making accessible content on the web. It is comprised of a set of rules that help site owners optimize their site for people with disabilities, and make them more usable for users in general.
Following these rules is not a simple task, and involves understanding the principles of accessibility, and implementing them in the site framework.
There are four principles, according to the WCAG guideline, that content should adhere to in order to be considered accessible:
Perceivable Content – Meaning the content should be presented in a way that ensures visitors can perceive it.
Operable Content – Meaning visitors should be able to navigate easily in a well-structured website. User interface components and navigation must be operable. This means that users must be able to operate the interface (the interface cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform).
Understandable Content – Meaning the site should be easy to operate and understand. Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This means that users must be able to access the content as technologies advance (as technologies and user agents evolve, the content should remain accessible).
Robust Content – Meaning the content should be able to be interpreted by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. This principle is less relevant because its recommendations are general and do not require specific action items.
Tutsplus have a very comprehensive 6 part guide explaining how to code an accessible website. This is a somewhat complicated tutorial that would take hours, maybe days, to follow, even for highly experienced developers.
But what if you wanted a quick fix, one that didn’t require ANY coding whatsoever? Well, now the answer is here.
The Solution: Instant Accessibility Using WordPress Accessibility Themes
With Pojo’s Accessibility plugin, you get all the accessibility solutions built into the website, without any coding whatsoever. This is a free plugin that is available for all themes built on the Pojo framework. You can check out exactly how it looks and feels in one of our demo themes.
The plugin adds an Accessible toolbar that offers many helpful features for the disabled.
Our vision at Pojo was to create a new standard of WordPress accessibility to our themes, so the team have made a huge effort to solve all accessibility issues that could be handled in the development stage. The plugin can also be easily integrated on any of our themes, and is very user-friendly.Here are some of the accessibility features included are:
Perceivable Content Solution (for vision disabilities)
- An option of re-adjusting the colors of the website.
- Adjusting the contrast to your liking – high/low contrast or a negative contrast.
- Changing the site to a light background.
- Turning the entire site into grayscale.
- Resizing text-size.
- Turning website fonts into readable fonts.
Operable Content Solution (for motor and cognitive disabilities)
- Use links to navigate through the page.
- Use the tab key to go through the page elements.
- Use the keyboard focus state for focusable elements.
- Add “Skip to Content” link
Understandable Content Solution
- Add focus on hover for links with tabs
- Force the links to open in the same tab or window
- Add role=link to all the site’s links
- Customized titles for every feature on the toolbar
Making an accessible WordPress site is extremely important. Accessible websites have opened a new world for people with special needs. Its popularity in the recent years has also drawn attention to the general population, allowing them to not only to people defined by a disability of some sort.
Up until recently, making an accessible site was much more complicated, and involved many hours of manual work by developers. Today, as we have seen, it is much simpler, and you can take care of most issues quickly and easily using our pre-built plugin.