Understanding Website Accessibility: Is WordPress ADA Compliant?
We often get asked, “Is WordPress ADA compliant?” The short answer to that question is that it can be. WordPress is an incredible tool and its flexibility and adaptability are two critically important features for building accessible websites. However, simply building a site in WordPress is not enough to ensure ADA compliance. Rather, it is up to every website owner to be familiar with the guidelines set forth by WCAG 2.0 for WordPress compliance; and then, if it’s necessary for your particular business, it’s your responsibility – or that of your web developer – to properly code and display your website so that it falls in line with those regulations.
So yes, WordPress is ADA compliant, but only if you take the appropriate steps with your website to make it so.
WordPress Accessibility Features
A website is not fully compliant with WCAG 2.0 and/or Section 508 standards unless both the structure of the pages and the content within those pages follow the rules of accessibility. So, the foundation for WordPress accessibility can be established by utilizing the accessibility-ready themes and plugins offered within the platform; but full website accessibility is achieved only when all elements of the site are coded in compliance with the accessibility guidelines.
Dozens of themes for WordPress are ADA compliant. The WordPress Theme Directory currently offers more than 100 unique accessibility-ready themes, all of which have been tested by WordPress professionals to ensure accessibility. While many other themes have accessibility potential as well, some of them offer particular features that are too complex for screen readers and other tools to interpret, so they have been left off the list. But by choosing among the templates that have been tagged as accessibility-ready, your website will have a solid foundation to build off of for proper WordPress 508 compliance and WCAG compliance. However, even with these accessibility-ready themes, we highly recommend partnering with both web developers and a web accessibility company who can ensure and certify that your site is compliant.
WordPress ADA Compliance Plugin
Downloaded almost 9,000 times from the WordPress Plugins Directory since it was first introduced, the WP ADA Compliance Check Basic plugin was designed to scan your website and evaluate all of its content to identify any potential accessibility issues. And like WordPress itself, as web accessibility standards continue to evolve, the plugin is updated in accordance to cover the latest requirements. That is not to say, however, that the plugin eliminates the need for human checks of your website. It’s simply a tool to help you double check your work.
Maintaining a WordPress ADA Compliant Website
With the constant evolution of what it means to be ADA compliant, many businesses are finding themselves unsure at best, and completely unequipped at worst, in terms of how to approach the creation and maintenance of a WordPress ADA compliant website.
How you proceed will depend largely upon whether you are legally required to be Section 508 and/or WCAG compliant, or whether you choose to do so voluntarily. Particularly for those who are legally bound – federal agencies and those who do business with them; local and state government agencies; business that exist to benefit the public; and private employers with 15 or more employees – acquiring the services of a development team of individuals who are well-versed in accessibility requirements is a smart move to make.
When you hire an experienced web developer to design and maintain a WordPress ADA compliant website for your business, you are essentially investing in a public service by providing individuals of all abilities the opportunity to experience your website to its fullest extent. And as ADA guidelines continue to become more stringent, you’re also protecting your own business from potential litigation stemming from noncompliance.
If you are in need of a WordPress website developer to either create or maintain an ADA compliant website for your business, contact Paradigm Marketing and Design to schedule a consultation. We believe in providing an equal user experience for all website visitors, and we’re happy to help your business and your website get there.