According to the CDC, one in four Americans experience some form of disability. Many members of this group use the web differently than how you might imagine your typical site visitor. For example, they may employ screen readers, require sufficient color contrast between page elements, and/or rely on additional visual cues for page navigation.
Here’s another stat: 40% of the web uses WordPress as its CMS, meaning millions of users with disabilities interact with these sites every day. When that WordPress site happens to be yours, have you made the necessary accommodations? In other words, is your website accessible?
Web accessibility requires time and dedication to get right, but it should still be a priority for both beginner and seasoned WordPress admins. There’s a lot to consider in the process, so consider installing a WordPress plugin to help you.
While no WordPress plugin can fix all accessibility issues — and be wary of any plugin that claims to — these tools can help identify such issues, then correct them or give guidance for correcting them. To help you help your visitors, we’ve compiled nine excellent WordPress accessibility plugins to make your website easier to navigate, experience, and enjoy.
Best WordPress Accessibility Plugins
- WP Accessibility
- One Click Accessibility
- WP Accessibility Helper
- WP ADA Compliance Check Basic
- Accessibility Widget
- WP Accessibility Tools & Missing Alt Text Finder
The free WP Accessibility plugin tops our list as one of the best options for addressing common WordPress accessibility issues. It adds many accessibility enhancers without requiring administrators to write code, and all of these options can be enabled or disabled from the settings menu.
A stand-out among this plugin’s features is its skip links, which are links to different regions of the page. Skip links let screen reader users jump to different parts of a page and avoid irrelevant content (like navigation menus). WP Accessibility adds skip links into your pages, and they’ll only appear when triggered by the use of the keyboard or an assistive device.
Also notable is this plugin’s ability to place an outline around focusable elements. This helps signal users where they are currently focused on the page, be it a link, button, text input, or otherwise. Plus, you can customize the color of this outline to fit your site.
These features only scratch the surface of what WP Accessibility can do. In addition, the plugin can specify the language of your pages (for screen reader pronunciation), add long image descriptions (for items like charts and graphs), add post titles to “read more links” (so the destination of the link is clear), remove redundant title attributes, and a lot more.
One Click Accessibility is another free accessibility plugin that makes several user-friendly modifications to your WordPress website. This option is suitable for admins who want an easy setup and simple controls.
One Click Accessibility enables basic accessibility boosts, including skip links to your pages, outline focus and ARIA landmarks, and removing the target attribute from links (to prevent links from opening in a new tab). With its accessibility toolbar, One Click Accessibility can underline your links, resize fonts, activate high contrast and negative contrast, and link to a sitemap and help pages.
All of these measures make your site not just more accessible, but more SEO-friendly as well. Visual enhancements can be toggled via the WordPress customizer, letting you preview your changes before pushing them live.
Like our previous recommendations, WP Accessibility Helper lets you toggle accessibility features from your dashboard. With this plugin, you’ll be able to resize fonts, change colors to a scheme that provides sufficient contrast, underline and highlight links, and get rid of animations and page styling.
However, unlike WP Accessibility and One Click Accessibility, WP Accessibility Helper is a freemium plugin. The premium version, which starts at $99 for one website, offers bonuses you won’t see in free plugins: accessible pop-ups and widgets, accessibility helper buttons, support for WPML and PolyLang, sepia mode, and monochrome mode.
accessiBe is a SaaS that improves web accessibility. This service leverages AI technology to scan your website for accessibility issues on both the back end and front end of your site. It learns the purpose of your page elements and makes adjustments to alt tags, ARIA attributes, icons, and buttons, forms, and more for a better, more accessible user experience.
accessiBe also alters your page structures to make them more keyboard-navigable, including modifying dropdowns, pop-ups, forms, buttons, and skip links. The service conducts daily scans for content changes too, reducing friction when you make changes to your site.
accessiBe’s free WordPress plugin connects its services to your WordPress website. accessiBe is priced on four plans: Standard ($49 per month), Large ($149 per month), Huge ($199 per month), and Jumbo ($349 per month). All plans offer a seven-day free trial. If you’re comfortable adding automation into your accessibility efforts (and can afford it), definitely consider accessiBe.
Like accessiBe, UserWay is another way for site owners looking to improve accessibility by utilizing automation in WordPress. Without changing your website’s code, UserWay’s AI-assisted scanning service monitors your site for accessibility problems, focusing especially on keyboard-only navigation. UserWay is a paid subscription service with three monthly plans priced at $49 per month, $129 per month, and $329 per month.
UserWay also offers a free widget that can make basic accessibility adjustments to your website. With it, you can control colors and color contrast, keyboard navigation, focus, and more. For a full rundown of the differences between the UserWay service and the free widget, see UserWay’s compassion chart.
While the aforementioned plugins modify your website to fulfill accessibility criteria, this free plugin doesn’t change your site. Rather, it scans your website for accessibility problems and generates reports with instructions to address them. Specifically, it checks for violations of Section 508 and the WCAG 2.1 LEVEL A/AA Web Accessibility Standards.
WP ADA Compliance Check Basic can evaluate content as it is published, so you can scan your entire website at once. For free, you’re limited to 25 posts or pages, and the plugin won’t scan theme files. The paid version of the plugin removes these limits and also makes some automatic improvements to your website.
For a quick and easy way to put an accessibility panel on your website, use the Accessibility Widget plugin. This free tool adds an accessibility sidebar widget that lets users change the size of text on the screen. This minimal plugin functions on desktop as well as mobile screens, and you can choose your text sizes and which page elements are affected by the widget.
The WP Accessibility Tools & Missing Alt Text Finder is another simple but effective tool to help make your website accessible for users with impairments. Its primary feature is a missing alt text finder, which evaluates your media library, pages, and posts for images without alt text, then lets you easily add it in with a click. You can also add description text or caption text via the plugin.
Additionally, this free plugin includes a contrast ratio checker to ensure your pages reach the ADA requirements for color contrast, and an interactive checklist listing WCAG requirements for accessibility.
The final plugin we recommend is wA11y, which includes tools to gauge and improve your site’s accessibility. (By the way, A11y is shorthand for “accessibility” — 11 stands for the 11 letters between “A” and “y”.)
wA11y comes with two main features, TOTA11Y and WAVE. TOTA11Y is an accessibility toolkit created by Khan Academy that visualizes how well your site accommodates assistive technologies. It looks at standard accessibility inclusions like alt text, headings, landmarks, and color contrast. WAVE is a popular accessibility evaluation tool that identifies accessibility issues on any live website.
While you don’t need a plugin to use TOTA11Y and WAVE, this plugin makes it much easier to incorporate both into your WordPress workflow.
Accessibility is not a feature.
Web developers often say that “accessibility is not a feature.” Wait, does this mean accessibility isn’t important?
Actually, quite the opposite. It means that accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought, tacked onto the end of a project — it must be addressed throughout the process of designing, building, and maintaining a website.
So, in addition to a handy plugin, you must bring empathy and understanding to your accessibility initiatives. The earlier you consider web accessibility in your site, the easier it will be to develop a product that provides equal access for everyone.
Originally published Apr 19, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated April 19 2021