Website Accessibility & WordPress

What is AODA legislation?

Ontario is the first Canadian Province to pass legislation to develop mandatory accessibility standards. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (“AODA”) aims to make the Province of Ontario completely accessible by 2025. New obligations will be rolled out on January 1 every year.

As of January 1, 2014 designated public sector organizations and large private sector organizations (50 employees) are required, where practicable, to make their websites and web content conform with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. [source]

Website Accessibility & WordPress

Yesterday Bill Gregory, a Senior Accessibility Engineer at The Paciello Group, spoke to the WordPress Toronto Meetup group about Website Accessibility.

If you missed it, here’s the google hangout video and below are my notes:

Why website accessibility matters?

Accessibility is about all of us. We are all aging. Web accessibility ensures that we will all be able to continue to access the web. It’s not just a nice to have, it’s the right way to do it.

Website accessibility provides a positive web experience for people with limited mobility, learning disabilities, hearing disabilities,  who are colour blind, have low vision and safety those seizure disorders.

Accessibility isn’t always about disability. What about a slow internet connection, broken hardware such as a mouse and glare on the screen when you’re outside?

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – The POUR Principle

Perceivable – Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.
Operable – User interface components and navigation must be operable.
Understandable – Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.
Robust – Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.

What accessibility isn’t and what it is

Accessible doesn’t mean that a website will be ugly. Accessibility and aesthetically pleasing aren’t mutually exclusive.

Accessibility is usability under a microscope. It’s about how users are interacting with a websites.  It’s about making your website available to more people.

Accessibility legislation isn’t something to fear!

Accessibility compliance will make our code and designs better. It will make us properly

  • use colour and contrast
  • use the language attribute
  • use Headings! Headings provide semantic meaning to your content and serve as important navigational tools for accessibility
  • use meaningful and descriptive alt text for images that matter. If an image doesn’t serve a purpose null out the alt text
  • use visual focus. Don’t just use hover styles
  • code so that every element on a page is reachable with a keyboard – can you tab between actionable items?

Accessibility compliance will force us to use semantic html properly – a <div> isn’t a <button>!

What are Semantic Elements?  A semantic element clearly describes its meaning to both the browser and the developer. Examples of non-semantic elements: <div> and <span> – Tells nothing about its content. Examples  of semantic elements: <form>, <table>, and <img> – Clearly defines its content. [W3Schools]


What is ARIA?  Accessible Rich Internet Applications –  markup that provides additional information about the semantic of the various elements to assistive technologies like screen readers or magnifiers. [stackoverflow]

Accessibility Resources:

The Paciello Group has developed a series of free tools:

WordPress Accessibility Links:

Additional resources:

Thank you to Bill Gregory and the WordPress Toronto Meetup group for this great introduction to website accessibility.

Read more about making your WordPress website accessible.

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