The WordPress Accessibility team published a report on the Accessibility Status of Gutenberg on October 30, 2018. The team collaborated on a detailed assessment that publicly challenged the Gutenberg’s readiness for the core.
Joe Dolson’s post aimed at providing detailed information on various contents of Accessibility and Gutenberg. After a week of testing the most recent version of the plugin, the team concluded that they cannot recommend to use Gutenberg by those who relies on assistive technology.
According to the post on Accessibility Status of Gutenberg, “The Accessibility team – like any team in WordPress – has no specific authority over the project. Because we’re a small team of volunteers, we’ve been pragmatic in how we apply the guidelines. We have made tradeoffs in prioritization. Gutenberg is a place where we feel it is necessary to draw a line. The ability to author, edit, and publish posts is the primary purpose of WordPress.”
On behalf of the whole accessibility team, Joe Dolson wrote that working on Gutenberg consisted of cognitive loag and complexity, inconsistent user interface behavior, heavy reliance on keyboard shortcuts and difficulties with keyboard navigation through blocks. He outlined an example of the keyboard sequence required to do something as simple as changing the font size in a paragraph block. It currently requires 34 separate keyboard stops, and even more if the tester doesn’t have prior knowledge of how to navigate Gutenberg.
The accessibility team said that the main accessibility issues in Gutenberg stem from design issues.
Dolson wrote, “Gutenberg is the way of the future in WordPress, but the direction it has taken so far has been worrying. We do not want to miss the opportunity to build a modern and inclusive application for WordPress, but in order to achieve that goal, accessibility needs to be incorporated in all design processes in the project.” He further wrote, “These problems are solvable. Retrofitting accessibility is not an effective process. It is costly in terms of time and resources.”
There has been no official response to the accessibility team’s assessment yet.
Gutenberg is now 20 days away from landing in WordPress 5.0, but this does not leave enough time to solve the design and architectural issues the accessibility team has identified. They have proposed a notice on the 5.0 release to inform administrators of Gutenberg’s inadequacy for users of assistive technology, with a prompt to install the Classic Editor plugin. The proposal is now closed with a note indicating that 5.0 will point users to the Classic Editor plugin if they need it.
Dolson concluded the post with, “The accessibility team will continue to work to support Gutenberg to the best of our ability. However, based on its current status, we cannot recommend that anybody who has a need for assistive technology allow it to be in use on any sites they need to use at this time.”