GUEST OPINION: When building a WordPress site, accessibility is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, people prioritize aesthetics, SEO, and even the plug-ins they wish to install while deferring UX and navigation to a later date.
However, as our global society grows more focused on social justice issues, accessibility is gradually becoming one of the most important aspects of digital content strategy. Moreover, failing to enhance the accessibility of your websites can have severe ramifications, ranging from handing your competitors a competitive advantage to facing an expensive lawsuit.
What is digital accessibility on WordPress?
Being accessible means that the information held within your WordPress site is provided in a consistent and open format, ensuring open access to everyone. As such, digital accessibility is the inclusive practice of ensuring that all forms of digital media are made available to all individuals, regardless of their level of ability. This includes disabilities such as blindness, deafness, motor and cognitive impairments, and more.
The WCAG 2.1 is the universally accepted set of guidelines detailing the criteria websites must meet if they are deemed accessible. If a website fails in any of the four main categories of accessibility (understandable, operable, perceivable, and robust), then it could be at risk of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III (ADA).
How to make WordPress sites more accessible
With that said, let’s now take a look at a few ways you can improve the accessibility of your WordPress site so that you can offer an inclusive experience for all users.
Choose an accessible WordPress theme
There are thousands of WordPress themes out there. Some of them are more accessible than others. If you plan to prioritize accessibility, then you need to choose a theme that is accessible right out of the gate. In general, this means options for simplicity and minimalism over fancy designs. This is because users that rely on assistive technology, will have a much easier time navigating your website if it isn’t littered with unnecessary web elements.
Include alt text for images
Alt text must be provided for images so that screen reader users can gain access to the same information as everybody else.
Include captions on video and other visual media
Following on from the previous point, all visual media must include captions or transcripts. Furthermore, videos mustn’t be set to autoplay, as this can interfere with assistive technology.
Be mindful of colour contrasts
It’s estimated there are over 300 million colour-blind people in the world. Many of them will have difficulty reading text online with poor colour contrast. You should generally strive for high contrast, such as black text on a white background. WCAG 2.1 requires a minimum of a 4.5:1 ratio for normal text and 3:1 for larger text. You should …….