Whether you’re a WordPress veteran or completely new to website creation, one thing is paramount: you need to provide website visitors with an excellent user experience.
Part of this involves ensuring your website complies with all necessary accessibility standards, including WordPress ADA compliance.
In other words, it’s your job to guarantee your website is easy to navigate, use, and read – for everyone. This includes (but is by no means limited to) font sizes, color contrast, and other tweaks that ensure website visitors have a positive interaction with your site.
But first, let’s roll back and clarify a few things:
Accessibility: The Benefits
Over one billion people worldwide live with disabilities, comprising 15% of the global population. That’s a lot of people!
So, if you want your brand to boast inclusivity, a website that complies with all the necessary accessibility regulations is an absolute must.
Not only will you be compliant, but making your site more accessible comes with many other added benefits, most notably:
- Better website SEO
- You’re more likely to retain website visitors for longer
- You’re better positioned to attract a broader audience which could result in more leads and conversions
- You massively minimize the chances of getting hit with a lawsuit regarding accessibility
So, how do you ensure your website’s up to code?
If you don’t have development knowledge or access to resources, the most practical solution is to use an accessibility plugin. In light of that, we’re now going to outline the best WordPress accessibility compliance plugins and why your site may want to use one.
What’s an Accessibility Plugin?
Put simply; it’s a plugin that can be installed in a couple of minutes and assists with making your WordPress site more accessible to users living with disabilities. Amongst other things, a high-quality accessibility plugin will help make your website easier to read, navigate, and understand.
There are several regulations site owners need to be aware of to ensure they’re not inadvertently excluding any potential visitors from their site:
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 outlines the necessary steps for making a website accessible.
These include providing:
- Text alternatives to non-text content
- Captions for multimedia content
- Content can be shown in different ways without losing meaning, making visual and auditory content accessible.
- Ensuring all functionality is accessible from a keyboard
- Having readable and understandable content that doesn’t trigger physical reactions or seizures.
ADA: American Disabilities Act 1990
This act may have come into force before the internet did. However, the ADA still requires websites to comply with accessibility laws.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973
Congress amended this act in 1998 to compel federal agencies to make their electronic and IT materials accessible to people with disabilities.
AODA: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
This legislation ensures that accessibility-related services, goods, facilities, etc., are developed and enforced. These requirements are based on the WCAG 2.0
ACA: Accessibility Canada Act 2019
Organizations that fall under federal jurisdiction must remove accessibility barriers for people with disabilities. Details of this act are scant, but it’s anticipated that the guidelines will follow WCAG 2.0’s lead.
EAA: European Accessibility Act 2019
This legislation requires that all digital services and products are accessible for people with disabilities. This act has been developed over many years. It’s based on the WCAG guidance and designed to reflect international protocols.
Aside from non-compliance being detrimental to your brand’s reputation, it also resulted in a 300% increase in lawsuits since 2018, with 25% of websites sued more than once. Well-known businesses that have been impacted include Domino’s Pizza, Kylie Jenner, and AutoNation – to name a few!
WordPress and Accessibility
As we’ve already said, it’s your responsibility to comply with accessibility laws as a website owner. Achieving WordPress ADA compliance means looking at the front-end of your site. However, this isn’t always easy because often, that’s controlled by themes and plugins (such as page builders).
This is where accessibility plugins are worth their weight in gold. Let’s take a look at some of the best in the business:
This free plugin is code-free, so there’s no need to hire developers or systems administrators to write it – anyone can use it!
WP Accessibility addresses accessibility issues without needing to change your theme. Other noteworthy features also include:
- You can specify your native language for screen reader purposes.
- You can add image descriptions.
- There’s a skip links function.
The latter enables users to navigate website content better using its links alone while steering clear of irrelevant content, such as navigation menus.
Also worth noting is that the plugin can place an outline around text, a button, or a link to help users focus on specific aspects of the page. In addition, the outline’s color can also be customized to suit your site’s needs.
WP Accessibility Pros:
- You can disable features according to your specific needs
- Minimal setup time and knowledge is required
- It has lots of 5-star reviews
- It’s 100% free
WP Accessibility Cons:
- Developers clarify this plugin is ‘not intended to make your site compatible with any accessibility guidelines.’ So although it helps boost website accessibility, it’s not designed to make a website compliant with all the necessary accessibility regulations.
accessiBe’s AI-powered web accessibility plugin is designed to improve the accessibility of WordPress websites. accessiBe’s AI-powered solution uses two applications to proffer the accessibility required by legislation and WCAG 2.1 guidance and ADA legislation.
From the front-end, accessiBe’s AI-powered solution provides a UI adjustment tool with a session-based design that makes accessibility adaptations based on your user’s particular needs. Rest assured, all modifications are compliant with WCAG 2.1. Adjustments span colors, content, and navigation.
Then, from your website’s back-end, accessiBe uses AI to scan all of your web pages at least once every 24 hours to ensure everything is as it should be compliance-wise.
accessiBe’s AI technology also automatically labels your content using icons and tags. This goes a long way to assisting visually impaired people with identifying each aspect of your WordPress site.
Pros of accessiBe’s AI-Powered Solution:
- It’s easy to use and takes only 2 minutes to install
- Automatically performs ongoing maintenance every 24 hours
- Developed and tested side by side with people with a wide range of disabilities
- It’s used by big companies (Netflix, Fox News, Orio, Johnsons, and more ) and small businesses too because of its affordable price point
- It’s fully customizable.
- Doesn’t stop at living up to the guidelines and regulations and focusing on enhancing user experience
- accessiBE’s AI-powered solution adheres to WCAG 2.1 requirements, as well as the other legislation mentioned above
Cons of accessiBe’s AI-Powered Solution:
- The Media & files remediation is a separate service
- VPAT is also a separate service
The Accessibility Checker plugin helps you meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (or WCAG) 2.1 by scanning your site against over 40 different accessibility checks.
You’ll get a visual summary box that enables you to quickly see any issues and dig into each one in detail. The plugin will not fix your issues automatically, but it will give you detailed documentation to show you how to fix any issues that show up.
The plugin comes in a free and premium version. The free version has most of the features present in the paid version. What’s great about the premium version, however, is that it includes more features to help you manage issues from your entire site in one spot, as well as analyze new types of content.
Accessibility Checker Pros:
- The free version is a great starting point for simple sites
- The paid version gives you a centralized open issue list and a log of all ignored items
- Supports WooCommerce, custom post types and Advanced Custom FIelds
- Lets you create an accessibility statement to display on your site
- Zero per-page or per-scan API usage fees
Accessibilty Checker Cons:
- With the free version, you’ll have to go through the issues piece by piece and only works with WordPress posts and pages
Here’s a WordPress plugin that offers WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 compliance for your WordPress site. The plugin assesses your website for accessibility issues when publishing new content. To ensure full compliance, it also scans existing content, including:
- Custom fields
- PDF files
- Linked pages
- CSS files
You’ll also receive accessibility reports with instructions regarding the tweaks you need to make to ensure full accessibility compliance.
There’s a basic version available. However, you’re limited to 25 pages or posts when you can carry out full scans. Also, this won’t alert you to any issues you might find in your theme files.
WordPress ADA Compliance Check Basic Pros:
- It’s easy to use
- Many issues are corrected automatically
- It evaluates against WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 standards
- It automatically finds the precise code that needs changing and provides a link to edit the impacted content
WordPress ADA Compliance Check Basic Cons:
- The basic version doesn’t identify issues in themes
- The cheapest paid-for version is $185 a year for updates and one year’s worth of support
This free tool is a fast way to add an accessibility sidebar widget. This allows you to change your website’s font sizes and control which parts of your site are affected by the widget. For example, you can reduce the text to 90% or have it as 100%, 110%, and 120%.
Accessibility Widget Pros:
- It’s quick and easy to get up and running with
- It’s free
- It works on mobile and desktop devices
- It’s open-source software
Accessibility Widget Cons:
- Its capabilities are minimal as it only deals with text sizes.
Are You Ready to Boost Your WordPress ADA Compliance?
If you need to make your WordPress site more accessible and compliant with ADA legislation and WCAG 2.0 guidance, the simplest solution is to use an accessibility plugin.
This article has revealed just a few of the many plugins that can help you achieve this, including automated and AI-fuelled apps like accessiBe that also make it easy to evaluate the current state of your website’s accessibility.
If you have any questions about accessibility or are concerned about whether you can achieve WordPress ADA compliance, contact accessiBe today.