WordPress Accessibility

EDIT: Graham Armfield replied to my comment and explained his why he is specifically advocating using the Trac system. Essentially, it seems to be the only thing that is being paid attention to. I’ll be hunting through the tickets this morning and seeing what I can add. I still maintain that Trac shouldn’t be abused with needless submissions, but I can’t argue with adding worthwhile tickets, etc.

I’ve been posting quite a bit lately about WP and accessibility because of my work on guide-dogs.org. I’ve been using WP since 2004 and I’ve been quite active in the WP community for many years now. I’m not just prattling on here about things; I work very hard to make the WP developers and the folks at Automattic aware of the needs people with disabilities have to use WP with the same ease as any other user.

In my opinion, the admin panel is the thing that needs to be addressed because anything on the front-end is more dependent on themes and plugins. The admin panel has steadily become a mess for those of us that rely on screen readers due to the larger reliance on AJAX menus. Using the admin panel without issue shouldn’t require the use of plugins or hacks and something akin to the widget screen’s “accessibility mode” would be ideal, especially in the custom menu screen and the theme switcher. Also, I want to have an ability to disable the visual editor as a default (like it used to be a few versions ago) and not solely by each user because it is the number one most inaccessible feature in the admin panel. I’m sure there are a few other things that I can list, but my point is that these are things I’ve tried to make the developers aware of and if you feel the same way or have other thoughts on this matter you should be doing the same.

Today on Twitter I saw a link to this blog post and it really bothers me. I left a comment there about my qualms, but it’s currently in the mod queue so I’m going to repeat myself a bit here. I don’t like the idea of flooding Trac. I don’t think that’s what the author is necessarily implying, but it’s how I take the statement about submitting tickets. Trac is a great system to help monitor progress on a project, submit bug reports and alert the developers to any security threats. It is not a means of alerting them to every wish that a user might have — regardless of whether they are a person with a disability or not.

It’s fine and well if there really is an accessibility issue you might be having with WP that hinders some ability to do something. It’s why I contacted Support straight away when I noticed the issue with the comment forms. But if you want to help with making WP more accessible and you want to alert the developers about this there are other venues to do that!

  1. There’s the forums, which are incredibly active and are frequented by every type of WP user from core developers to Automattic staff. There’s even an entire section solely devoted to requests and feedback on WordPress!
  2. There’s the ideas section where you can submit a proposal for an idea you have for WordPress and also vote for other ideas, including a currently active one regarding WP accessibility.
  3. There’s the make.wordpress.org blog, which includes a section on accessibility. There’s also a very active section on the admin panel and others regarding plugin and theme development.
  4. And, lastly, if you use IRC, there’s an IRC channel for discussions on WordPress topics on the IRC FreeNode Server at #wordpress. I haven’t personally been in this chat in something like 6 years, but I remember it as a very knowledgeable and helpful group.

Please don’t flood Trac, though. If you really do have something to add or want to bring attention to, I fully support you submitting a ticket but don’t needlessly flood the system. It is not going to help the cause towards accessibility if we abuse Trac. It’s only going to frustrate people who are sifting through the tickets and make all of us look bad, which will not be helpful to anyone that genuinely needs a more accessible WordPress.

Speak your piece!

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