Around 20% of people suffer from some form of disability. The things that we seamlessly do every day, like browsing the web in search of our favorite TV show, often present an obstacle for millions of people worldwide. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance regulations require your website to be accessible to people that don’t have the luxury of performing everyday tasks as easily as many of us do. Besides potentially excluding nearly 61 million Americans that are living with some sort of disability, companies can also receive a $150,000 fine for every ADA compliance violation. However, Government agency websites also need to comply with this act.
Although WordPress provides a ton of options for creating accessible websites, there are still numerous items to check off your list to make sure that your navigation elements and content are accessible to people with disabilities. Luckily, the plugin development community did its best to provide us with a wide selection of tools so we can face the WordPress theme compliance challenges that come with website accessibility. Since our web design agency in Chicago is committed to making the internet accessible to everyone, here is our list of 5 WordPress accessibility compliance plugins designed to help you achieve greater measures of ADA compliance.
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WordPress ADA Compliance Check Basic
As the name suggests, this plugin checks your WordPress websites for ADA compliance. It offers two modes for you to choose from. You can scan your entire website to find out if there are any WordPress ADA compliance issues as well as set the plugin to run each time you publish new content. The plugin will then identify and report on any accessibility issues found while also recommending possible solutions. It can help you get your website compliant with LEVEL A/AA of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.
With regular updates to ensure full compliance with ADA standards, WordPress Accessibility addresses persistent accessibility challenges. Among a host of various options, it gives you the ability to:
- Add language and text direction with HTML attributes
- Toggle toolbar between high contrast, large print, and grayscale views to help users read your content more easily
- Add long descriptions to images
- Each of these features can be turned on or off in the settings section. WordPress Accessibility plugin also comes with a couple of built-in third-party tools that you can use to further enhance its performance, such as those for CSS diagnosis or tools to show the contrast between hexadecimal color values.
Accessible Poetry adds a floating button on your screen. When you click on this button, a toolbar appears that allows you to change the font as well as contrast. There is also an option for zooming in and out of the page, disabling animations and on screen flashes, and many more. You can also use Skiplinks to navigate the main areas of the page with your keyboard. Its most prominent feature is the ALT Platform area inside the WordPress Dashboard. This feature alerts you if there are any images uploaded to your website that don’t have an ALT tag assigned and provides an option to set a tag directly from the listing.
Accessibility Suite is a WordPress plugin that addresses Section 508 of the ADA compliance requirements. Section 508 is a federal accessibility law that applies to federal agencies and departments rather than organizations in the private sector. By adding this accessibility checker plugin to your WordPress website, you can:
- Schedule an automatic accessibility scan of your website
- Get shareable reports that summarize the plugin’s scan results
- Save previous accessibility scans so you can easily monitor progress and changes that you make
- View errors using various filters, such as by page or object
- Receive a list of steps that you can take in order to fix the accessibility of your website
Text-To-Speech PHP/JS Script Converter
Text-To-Speech PHP/JS Script Converter is a commercial plugin for converting text into spoken language. It is multilingual as it offers support for 44 languages as well as the option to choose from many different voices. Best of all, it doesn’t require any sort of additional framework to function properly. You should, however, keep in mind that this plugin is not fully automated and you will need to add some code to HTML wrapper elements for any items you wish to enable the text-to-speech option for.
One Click Accessibility
If you are looking for an easy-to-use accessibility plugin, consider checking One Click Accessibility. Its intuitive admin dashboard ensures that both beginners and pros can quickly get comfortable using it. This plugin allows owners to quickly modify accessibility options on their websites and add:
- Skip links
- Outline focus
- ARIA landmarks
- Negative contrast
- High contrast
Before publishing changes, this plugin lets you preview how they will affect your web page design. However, since this plugin does not provide a web accessibility audit feature, you’ll have o use combine it with other extensions.
WP Accessibility Tools & Missing Alt Text Finder
WP Accessibility Tools & Missing Alt Text Finder is a free WordPress ADA compliance plugin you can use to check if all the images on your website have alt text and then quickly insert a description. However, you can use it to test website accessibility because it comes with a checklist of things you need to improve to make your website WCAG 2.1 compliant. The only downside is that you will need to fix accessibility issues on your own.
This plugin is especially useful when designing eCommerce websites since they usually contain many images, and it is easy to forget to write alt text when updating product pages.
WP Accessibility Helper
WP Accessibility Helper is a WordPress ADA compliance plugin that enables you to resize fonts, adjust color combinations, highlight links, create sufficient contrast, and more. There are free and premium versions of this plugin. By buying a premium version, you will get additional features in your color contract toolbar and many useful widgets for fulfilling accessibility plans. However, since there are various hidden costs when designing a website, if you are not sure whether paying for accessibility compliance plugins would suit your budget – check our website design cost calculator, as it will give you a clearer picture.
A few things to check when adding WordPress ADA compliance plugins
While plugins usually make updating and managing your website easy, they can also cause issues and move you away from finding a web accessibility solution. This is where accessibility evaluation tool, such as WP ADA Compliance Check Basic, comes in handy. This easy-to-use tool answers some of the most important questions when it comes to adding a plugin to your WordPress website:
- Is the plugin up to date? – More often than not, installing an out of date plugin will cause issues to your website. It could even make your website vulnerable to hacker attacks. This is why it is important to check the WordPress version of the plugin you intended to install on the right-hand side and compare it to yours.
- Does the plugin have any bugs or issues? – Under the Support and Reviews tab you can check the experience that other users have with the plugin. If you find that the plugin has a history of problems, you may want to reconsider your choice. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Can a developer help if the plugin causes severe issues? – Although not that common, plugins can cause severe issues to websites and you may suddenly find yourself in need of a developer to fix them. This is why you need to make sure you have help available, in case anything out of ordinary should happen.
Professionals from our web development company in Chicago recommend asking yourself the above questions before you add a plugin to your website. It will ensure that you install only the most reliable WordPress ADA compliance plugins that usually work like charms.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) explained
There are several accessibility regulations site owners need to be aware of before creating a web design QA checklist. It will allow them to build a website that provides a great user experience to people with different types of disabilities. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 are a set of website accessibility standards that are categorized into three levels of conformance. These levels can serve as a guideline for depth code review and testing of your website and help you make your digital environment accessible for everyone:
- Level A Web Accessibility Standards – This is the basic level of accessibility that most websites meet. For example, one criterion for reaching this level is ensuring that color is not the only visual mean of conveying information or suggesting certain actions on your website. Almost all accessibility plugins will help you achieve this level of compliance.
- Level AA Web Accessibility Standards – Websites that reach Level AA are considered to have Strong Accessibility. It sets additional standards that expand basic accessibility. For example, the contrast between your essential elements needs to be at least 4.5 to 1.
- Level AAA Web Accessibility Standards – This level of accessibility is very difficult to meet, and only websites that follow best practices reach it. It further raises criteria from the previous level – for example, the contrast level between text and background on your website needs to be at least 7 to 1.
You should aim to meet at least Level AA with your custom WordPress website design. Improving the accessibility of your website might also help you achieve better rankings in search engines, as Google values the user experience visitors get.
WCAG guidelines are sorted into four different categories
- Perceivable – You need to make your content easy to understand by people with various forms of disabilities. Add subtitles to your videos to help users with hearing loss, or add audio if your content is written.
- Operable – Make your website operable by implementing both keyboard and mouse navigation and adding specific shortcuts.
- Understandable – Clearly explain interactive elements on your website. Users need to understand what destination your menus, links, buttons, etc. lead to.
- Robust – Make your website accessible from every device, browser, or platform.
Using accessibility testing tools and other accessibility plugins can help you fix the current issues on your website in order to meet WCAG standards. However, avoid installing too many, as it might slow down your website and cause a poor user experience.
While many businesses tend to focus on creating content and increasing social media engagement, website accessibility is often overlooked. However, in this day and age, the internet has evolved to the point that it must meet or even exceed many laws and regulations we experience in the physical world. Much like in the real world, accessibility is the standard we should strive for in the digital world as well. Making your WordPress website ADA compliant takes time, effort, and a reliable web design, but it is more than worth your while. It all starts with the least we can do – giving our websites a bit of tweak – and continues with the opening of minds to a common mission – to provide the world with equal opportunity for all. Following web design’s best practices and accessibility tips above is the first step you need to take towards finding the perfect web accessibility solution.
If you are looking to hire a web design agency to perform a web accessibility audit on your website and help with meeting accessibility compliance standards, feel free to contact our agency.