How to make WordPress website more accessible?

It’s not a secret that WordPress has become a phenomenal tool that allows people to build blogs and websites with very little knowledge of programming languages and code. The cms is very easy to install. In addition, it provides a wide range of themes and plugins that actually define how your content and functionality will be presented in the end.

If you’d like to create a website that would be accessible for disabled people, WordPress has got all it’s need to facilitate the development of an accessible website.

However, before we can get started there are two important things to be aware of. At first, implementation of all the listed techniques won’t give you a totally accessible website that can comply with all the requirements. However, it will definitely deliver better accessibility. And at second, it’s vital to understand that total accessibility is possible only through cooperation of all practices such as web design, web development and content. A designer can put a lot of effort in creation of accessible web design theme, a developer can provide great functionality of the site, but if a content manager used an image without alt tag, a web page loses its value.

So, now, with understanding all the things mentioned above, I’m going to share with you a few tips how to make WordPress-based website more accessible.

All images that you use on a site should be labeled with alt tags. I don’t expect that you’ve never heard about it, however I think it’s right to mention it again – a great barrier to web accessibility is using alt text in a clear and proper way. They should give a valid and relevant description of each image that you insert in the content. If all website administrators followed this simple rule, there wouldn’t be that many complaints about website accessibility. It’s as simple as that. When you post an image on a site, think of its description in terms of proper alt tag. To word it differently, every meaningful image must have an alt tag. Let’s draw an example. If someone is reading information from the screen reader for a person with visual disabilities, the browser will load only text that’s conveyed by the images.

What to do with images that are mainly used as a decoration without any special semantic load? Using CSS, you can load it as a background image so that screen readers can ignore it (in this case, the image doesn’t require any alt tag). If you use HTML to display a decorative image, leave the alt tag empty. A screen reader will “understand” that a text has got an image but this image is not important for a reader.

Accessibility of WordPress can be improved with the help of variety of plugins. It’s not a difficult task to set up those plugins but they will enable users with different disabilities to access WordPress-driven website.

The headings should also be properly arranged on the site. Use them in the right order so that visitors can quickly make a summary of what your page is about and easily navigate it through. Another idea to make a website more accessible for disabled people is to use navigation links. By doing so you will allow them to skip all navigation bars, menus and search boxes and help to jump to the needed page by clicking on these links. Some of available WordPress theme may already provide such functions. If you don’t find such particular theme, add navigation links yourself.

Of course, I can’t guarantee you that all these recommendations will give you a 100 per cent accessible website, however implementation of the above techniques will definitely help you to significantly improve functionality of your site and its accessibility.

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