When designing your WordPress site, user experience (UX) is, of course, a major factor. Unfortunately, many developers forget that a positive UX means different things to people — which is why making an accessible website is so important.
The good news is that achieving web accessibility isn’t overly difficult or complicated. Plus, as a WordPress user, you have the advantage of being able to use plugins and themes to make the process easier.
In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of accessibility and the benefits of making it a priority. Then it will provide some of the best plugins and themes to help improve site accessibility. Let’s get started!
The Importance of an Accessible Website
As today’s landscape continues to shift toward a digital-first environment, web accessibility is becoming increasingly important. If you don’t have an accessible website, you run the risk of facing lawsuits from users with impairments who are unable to use your site via screen reader or keyboard.
Legal issues aside, if you don’t consider web accessibility when building your site, you could also miss out on potential customers. A website that is only accessible to a certain group of people limits your reach and, in turn, revenue.
Therefore, best practice is to adhere to the guidelines and compliance requirements set forth by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Doing so helps ensure you’re being socially responsible and building an accessible website that is inclusive to everyone.
What does an accessible website consist of, though? There’s a wide variety of factors to take into account. We recommend reviewing the WCAG guidelines for a full rundown of the features you need. However, some of the most important include:
- Menus and links that are keyboard accessible
- Focusable elements
- Alt text for images
- Color contrast
- Skip links
It’s also worth noting that, beyond social responsibility and a better UX, an accessible website can provide performance benefits. In addition to improved SEO, it can also lead to faster loading times.
5 Plugins and Themes to Help Make Your WordPress Site More Accessible
Now that we understand the importance of building an accessible website, it’s time to dive deeper into how to go about it. Let’s take a look at five plugins and themes you can use to improve the accessibility of your WordPress site.
1. WP Accessibility Helper
The WP Accessibility Helper plugin is an incredibly useful tool for making your WordPress site more accessible. It’s free to download and use, however, there is a pro version available for purchase as well.
WP Accessibility Helper helps by checking:
- Font size
- Contrast and color variations
- Form field labels
- Underlining and highlighting links
- Titles and tags
- Image alt text
- And more
After you install and activate the plugin, it will add a user-friendly toolbar to your site. It is easy to use and can help with simple tasks that will enhance the overall UX and accessibility of your site. You can learn more about the WP Accessibility Helper plugin on the official website.
2. Twenty Twenty
Twenty Twenty is the newest version of the default WordPress theme. It’s flexible, fully responsive, and is one of the most popular options for accessibility-ready themes available in the WordPress Themes Directory.
If you’re unsure whether or not your current theme is considered ‘accessible’, try navigating it using only your keyboard. For example, if you’re unable to browse through the dropdown menus or select certain links, it likely means your site is inaccessible.
When you use a theme such as Twenty Twenty, you know that it was developed following WordPress best practices and guidelines. WordPress takes accessibility very seriously, so choosing a theme from their directory is always a good idea, including their default one.
3. WP Accessibility
Another popular and helpful WordPress plugin you can use to build an accessible website is WP Accessibility. This tool lets you remove unnecessary attributes that can confuse screen readers.
Additionally, you can use this plugin to:
- Add labels to form fields
- Describe images clearly and appropriately for screen readers and other assistive devices
- Improve your navigation and color contrast
- Enable skip links
This five-star-rated plugin is free to download and use. After you install and activate it on your website, you can configure the settings and features under Settings > WP Accessibility.
4. One Click Accessibility
The One Click Accessibility plugin is not a complete web accessibility solution for your site. However, it is a useful tool for quickly adding some accessibility features to your WordPress site.
With One Click, you can:
- Enable ‘skip to content’ functionality
- Add an outline focus for focusable elements
- Remove the target attribute from the links on your site and add landmark roles
It also includes a toolbar that has many features included with the other two plugins featured on this list. The tool bar includes font, contrast, and link underline features.
If you’re looking for a WordPress theme that is web accessibility-ready, but don’t want to use the default Twenty Twenty, HoneyPress is worth checking out. This free theme is available from the WordPress Theme Directory and can be used for a wide variety of websites.
HoneyPress is a lightweight theme that is highly customizable and fully responsive. It was created by SpiceThemes. Additional features include:
- SEO optimized
- Translation ready
- Fully WooCommerce compatible
- Live content editing via Customizer
HoneyPress is one of the most flexible themes available under the ‘Accessibility Ready’ filter in the Theme Directory. Themes that are available on WordPress.org under this section have gone through accessibility checks.
In order to ensure your site can be accessed and used by all persons, including those with visual impairments, your WordPress site should be compliant with ADA and WCAG guidelines. If you don’t know where to start, the good news is that there are plenty of plugins and themes to help.
In this post, we discussed five WordPress tools that can help you build an accessible website:
- WP Accessibility Helper. A freemium plugin that can help with everything from your font size to the images alt text and tags.
- Twenty Twenty. The default WordPress theme that comes with accessibility-ready features.
- WP Accessibility. Another WordPress plugin that can help improve the UX of your WordPress site for all users.
- One Click Accessibility. This plugin offers a fast and efficient way of adding web accessibility features to your site with a single click.
- HoneyPress. Another WordPress theme in the WordPress Theme Directory that comes packed with accessibility-ready features.
Do you have any questions about making your website more accessible? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pexels