If you want your WordPress site to offer a great experience to all of your visitors, you need to make sure that it’s accessible to people with disabilities. What’s more, in many jurisdictions it’s also the law, which means you can get in legal trouble if your site isn’t accessible (just ask Domino’s Pizza).
However, creating an accessible WordPress site can be difficult for two big reasons:
- You might not know what you need to do to make your site accessible in the first place.
- Even if you do know what to do, it can be hard to make sure that all of your content follows those accessibility best practices.
Accessibility Checker is a native WordPress accessibility testing plugin and WAVE alternative that helps content creators and developers solve both pain points by testing your WordPress site for WCAG compliance (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and other accessibility issues.
It comes from Equalize Digital, an agency that specializes in building accessible WordPress websites and auditing existing sites.
The plugin will scan all of your site’s content to flag issues. Then, it offers detailed instructions to tell you exactly what you need to do to fix the problem.
In our hands-on WordPress Accessibility Checker review, we’ll show you how this freemium plugin can help you improve your WordPress website’s accessibility.
WordPress Accessibility Checker Review – The Features
The WordPress Accessibility Checker plugin automatically scans your site’s content against 40+ different accessibility checks designed to help you meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 success criteria.
You’ll be able to quickly see issues using a visual summary box and then dig into each issue in detail. You can also ignore issues that don’t apply to clean up your summary box and streamline your tasks.
It’s important to note that Accessibility Checker will not automatically fix the issues that it finds by itself. This isn’t possible to do reliably, which is why Accessibility Checker only flags the issues for you. However, the developer does offer very detailed documentation that shows you how to fix all of the issues that Accessibility Checker might find, so it does give you all the tools/knowledge you need to fix your site’s problems.
Beyond that, it offers Flesch Kincaid grade level analysis and can help you add a simplified summary box if your content’s reading level is too high.
Accessibility Checker Pricing
Accessibility Checker comes in both a free version at WordPress.org as well a premium version with more features.
In general, the free version includes all the same accessibility scanning options, but the premium version adds new features to help make it easier to manage issues across your entire site from one spot and also analyze new types of content.
With the free version, you’ll need to go piece by piece and it only works with WordPress posts and pages.
To make it easier to manage sitewide issues, the premium version gives you a:
- Centralized open issue list
- Log of all ignored items
The premium version also supports WooCommerce, custom post types, and Advanced Custom Fields as well as some other features such as the abilities to:
- Control who can ignore items
- Create an accessibility statement to display on your site
One of the most unique things about the premium version is that there are zero per-page or per-scan API usage fees, which is common with other accessibility testing tools. For one flat rate, you can test unlimited content on your site.
All of the plans include all premium features – the only difference is the number of sites you can use the premium version on:
How WordPress Accessibility Checker Works
To kick things off, I’ll show you how the free version of Accessibility Checker works. Then, in the next section, I’ll also showcase some of the premium features.
Using the Accessibility Checker Summary Box
For the free version, you’ll mostly work with Accessibility Checker from the WordPress editor for individual pieces of content.
Below the content editor, you’ll get a new Accessibility Checker box that includes three tabs:
- Summary – a high-level summary of this piece of content’s issues and reading level.
- Details – a detailed look at each individual issue that Accessibility Checker found.
- Readability – lets you add a simplified summary, which you should do if your content’s reading level is ninth grade or higher.
Viewing Details for Each Issue
According to the summary box, you can see that the Accessibility Checker flagged 13 errors, four contrast errors, and one warning.
To view all 18 issues, you would go to the Details tab.
There, you’ll see all the potential issues, ordered by the number of errors/issues that fit in each category. Ideally, most of the categories should show zero issues (marked by green):
To view specific issues, you can expand the accordion section for that type of issue. This will list the exact code that’s causing issues. In the screenshot below, it’s listing all eight images that are missing alternative text:
One really useful option here is the “info” icon next to each type of issue. If you click that, it will open the corresponding documentation article for that type of issue.
All of these documentation articles offer huge value in themselves because they’re super detailed. Each article will break down what the issue means, why it’s important, and how you can fix the problem.
For example, here’s the table of contents for the article on insufficient color contrast:
Basically, if you’re ever unsure how to fix one of the flagged issues, all you need to do is click that icon to get the answer.
In some situations, the Accessibility Checker might flag something that, upon human review, you deem isn’t an issue.
To help you manage your compliance, you can ignore these issues so that they don’t keep showing up as problems that need to be fixed – all you need to do is click the Ignore link. When you ignore an issue, you can also add a comment to help you remember why you ignored it:
You can also stop ignoring an issue if something changes in the future.
Adding a Simplified Summary
The Readability tab lets you see your content’s reading level and also add a simplified summary if needed. According to WCAG, you should always add this if your content’s reading level is above ninth grade. However, you also have the option to just add it to every piece of content:
By default, the plugin will add the simplified summary below your content. However, in the settings, you can move it above your content or enable an option to manually place it anywhere in your content.
Exploring the Premium Features in Accessibility Checker
Now, let’s take a look at some of the features in the premium version of Accessibility Checker. Again, in addition to expanding the type of content that you can scan, one of the big advantages of the premium version is that it makes it easier to manage all of your site’s issues.
Run and Schedule Full-Site Scans
With the premium version, you can run a full site scan to analyze all of your site’s content at once. You can also schedule this scan to run automatically on a weekly or monthly basis:
View Accessibility Issues in Content List
Based on your full-site scan, Accessibility Checker adds a handy summary to the post/page/custom post type list that helps you quickly see all of your content’s results:
Browse All Open Issues
The premium version also gives you a single unified Open Issues dashboard that lets you see every single issue across all of your site’s content.
You can also use the filter options to quickly filter out specific types of content, types of notices, and more:
Error Log and Access Control
You also get a unified interface to manage all of the ignored issues on your site:
In addition to this log, you can also choose which WordPress user roles are able to ignore issues in the first place.
Final Thoughts on Accessibility Checker
Creating an accessible website is important both to create a better experience for visitors with disabilities and also potentially to comply with laws in your jurisdiction. There’s plenty you can do right out of the box, but there are also accessibility plugins that can help you.
The Accessibility Checker offers an easy way to scan your site for accessibility issues. Then, the detailed documentation helps you understand how you can fix every issue that you find.
The free version includes all of the scanning features, so it makes a good starting point for simple sites. As long as you’re only using posts and pages, the free version is technically all you need to scan all of your content.
However, if you have a site with lots of content, you’ll likely want to get the premium version as it makes it easier to manage sitewide issues. You’ll also need the premium version to scan more than just posts and pages, so it’s a must for custom content sites and WooCommerce stores.