ClassicPress Plugin Development: Develop for Accessibility

ClassicPress PluginsThis post is part of the ClassicPress Plugin Development series n which I am going to look at both best practice for developing plugins and how I approach some requirements as well as some of the functions I commonly use.

in the last post, I discussed how plugins should be developed for them to be translated (internationalization); you should also develop for accessibility (often abbreviated as a11y as there are 11 letters between the letters l and n.

The A11y Project website has a lot of good resources which can help get you started with developing for accessibility and as they say, on their about page, "[a]ccessibility is incredibly important, yet often overlooked in traditional digital design and development education...".

Unfortunately, this post is more of a "do as I say, not as I do" because I have nt been developing with accessibility in mind. There are certain ways of coding which I have picked up in the past whic do fit the accessibility patterns, but this is more fortuitous happenstance than deliberate design. It recently came up on the ClassicPress Forum when Marco Zehe joined the community.

Reading an interview he did with Deborah Edwards-Onoro of Lireo Designs this reiterated that accessibility should not just be a nice to have, but a requirement as without it, sites will not be accessible to many users. One of the reasons he gave for looking at ClassicPress is the forced introduction of the block editor (formerly Gutenburg editor) into WordPress which has many series accessibility problems.

Plugins form a major part of the ClassicPress, and WordPress, ecosystems with many of them outputting content to users and this should always be done in an accessible way; it's not just the front end content which needs to be accessible, it is also the settings pages in the admin dashboard.

As with internationalization, adding accessibility to an existing plugin will take a lot more effort than designing and coding the plugin for accessibility from the start. This is a task which I have added to my development list to look at as soon as possible; unfortunately with a lot of ClassicPress plugins this is not going to be a small task.

The A11Y Project website has links to a lot of resources to help with accessibility design including a checklist.

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