Testing for Accessibility of WordPress

WordPress one the most used content management system (CMS) platforms for the web. I use WordPress to create these blog posts about the world of academic accessibility.  A minor irritation is that I also have as part of my job the testing of WordPress as a tool and that means I have to test the use of this blog as part of that training.  WordPress is used here at the university for student, faculty and staff blogs, but it is used for much more than that here.  WordPress is now the prime means of creating websites for the university.


A sever restriction to our campus staff, students and faculty is the limitation on which theme you cna use.  Themes allwo for the design of the online content.  Because their are security, accessibility and other design concerns our IT department went through and limited what themes can be offered here.  Below are the themes that everyone here can use:

  1. Courage
  2. Air Balloon
  3. Anderson
  4. Blue Zinfandel
  5. Bold headline
  6. Dynamic New
  7. Dynamic News Lite
  8. Emphaino
  9. Momentous
  10. Openstrap
  11. Rubine
  12. Smart Line

I don’t know what has gone into the planning of what themes can be used, but the regular WordPress creation site provides for at least 70 free themes and a huge number possibly in the hundreds of themes that you can pay for. The limits were most likely designed to control security and other technical issues such as accessibility.  Of course if you are a developer, you may prefer to write your own theme.

My experience tells me that the site that I have is hidden away, and therefore limits the readership. I’m not sure exactly how the analytics work or why, but in the past I’ve had a much larger readership for my blogs.  It is not very motivating to write blog posts that no one will see.  Without feedback, one cannot develop content that is user specific.  I try to write content for myself instead.  Especially when it covers a topic that is very niche.  WordPress then becomes a archive of information which I can refer people when asked about a topic.

Current Testing

The current testing that I’m doing is to see if I can use my blog site with the assistive technologies employed on this computer. I will also have to tested on a Macintosh.

When using this tool with NVDA screen reading software or Jaws, I found that I could do everything (not that it was easy). What made it most challenging was the fact that there is so much content  that you can see visually, which means it required extra effort for someone using a screen reader. For instance when trying to find the add alt tag command for an image, I had to navigate through a great deal of content. I don’t expect any other blog tool to be any better.  I think with diligent practice and patience, some with a disability can handle all aspects of WordPress, but I doubt all add-ons, widgets and the like are fully accessible.

Dragon dictate professionalDragon Dictate Premium

DragonDictate premium allowed me to type into the screen if I had the extension added to chrome. However making corrections was much more difficult than typing into a word processor. In this paragraph the word premier is supposed to be capitalized. I neglected that, so to correct it I say “select premium” and then I should be able to capitalize the word premium. However, that selection isn’t working for some reason. So what I would normally do in a case like this is to type the entire document using WordPad, Microsoft Word, a text file, or another means of typing a document, then selecting the document and cutting and pasting that content into the WordPress panel hearing Google Chrome. Not very efficient!  At least all the visual elements could be selected using “Mouse Grid.”  Below is a picture of the mouse grid feature being active on a monitor.  The screen is cut into a numbered tic tack toe board, with 1, 2, and 3 at the top going from left to right.  Each number redefines the size of hte next tic tack toe board, until the user gets the focus exactly to the location they need on screen.  This works well within the WordPress environment.

Dragon's Mouse Grid

References for WordPress & Accessibility


New WordPress Editor: Gutenberg ‘d’ bomb

I’m not sure yet about the coming new editor.  I have tried it on my personal blogs.  I’m also going to have to test it for accessibility this coming year.  I know that the same capacity to edit the html and  the same ability to add headings, alt tags, etc.  should mean it works the same.  What I’m concerned about is how easy it is to use with assistive technology.  Can a screen reading software like Jaws navigate within the boxy structure for creating blogs content?

time bomb that is lit


Other Related Articles about WordPress for Universities

Ten Reasons to Use WordPress for University Websites

How the top 50 of the world’s universities are all using WordPress

Content Management for the Modern University


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