Accessibility on the web can mean a lot of things. But in general it means making websites as inclusive to as many users as possible. Accessibility is important for a diverse group of users including mobile users, people who rely on assistive technology to navigate the web, and even search engine robots. We handle accessibility of WordPress.com in two simple ways.
First, we follow web design standards and best practices. This means when we build new features and new themes, we are building on a good foundation for making our system and your blog accessible.
Second, we address specific concerns. As web technologies change and browsers strive to keep up, it is near impossible to achieve 100% accessibility. If you run into an accessibility problem feel free to contact us. We examine these problems on a case-by-case basis and fix them if possible and appropriate.
We also provide a level of accessibility to users of mobile devices by offering mobile themes. And you can access your own blog on the go with the mobile version of WordPress.com or the WordPress app, available for smartphones and tablet devices.
Improving accessibility on your blog
- Write good captions for images
When you insert an image into a post or page, consider providing a rich description for the caption that will improve the reading experience for everyone, but especially folks who can’t see the image. Be creative. Instead of “My son on his swing,” try “My son is playing on his favorite swing. His face is filled with pure joy on a beautiful Spring day. Perfection.” The goal here is to convey the feeling of the image.
- Clearly describe links
Whether you are linking to your own blog or another site, it helps to be descriptive in the linked text. For example, “Click here” is not as explanatory as “Contact me.”
WordPress.com seeks to ensure that all of our themes are accessible, however some themes have additional features that add complexity to the site and could make it harder for users who use screen readers and users with disabilities to access all content.
You can find themes that have been tested for accessibility here: Accessibility Ready Themes
If you are unsure which theme to use for an accessible site, we recommend Twenty Fourteen as a beautiful, full-featured theme that is fully accessible.
Some organizations operate with specific rules for accessibility, such as the US Government, whose sites follow the Section 508 Accessibility Guidelines.
WordPress.com cannot ensure a site is fully compliant with these guidelines, since they include both the structure of the pages and the content that users add to their pages.
You can test specific themes for compliance with these guidelines using a tool such as the WAVE Web Accessibility tool. For sites that require 100% compliance, we recommend testing your theme of choice using the demo page for the theme, for example Twenty Fourteen. We also recommend using Header Text (displaying the Site Title), rather than a Header Image, as some WordPress.com themes will not provide AltText and therefore generate an error in the accessibility tool when a Header Image is set.