The WordPress Theme Review team has always been keen on making WordPress theme user-friendly by improving the quality of themes submitted in WordPress.org. The Theme Review team is slowly trying to make all themes in WordPress.org accessibility-ready. While on this mission, the TRT has introduced several changes in the accessibility requirements. They are adding new requirements for themes in the directory which were required only for themes with “Accessibility-Ready” tag. And now, the team has brought another requirement of ‘Keyboard Navigation’ to make all the themes in WordPress.org accessibility-ready.
The Theme Review team introduced its first accessibility requirement last month on 9th July 2019. The requirement was “Skip Links”. Themes must include a mechanism that enables users to navigate directly to the content or navigation on entering any given page. These links may be positioned off-screen initially but must be available to screen reader users and must be visible on focus for sighted keyboard navigators. This was the first step in making all themes in wordpress.org repository accessible.
After receiving supportive feedback about the Skip Links, The TRT has now introduced another requirement of “Keyboard Navigation”. Poena from the WordPress core team posted the requirement yesterday clarifying all themes to implement keyboard navigation in five weeks’ time, around the third of September 2019. The team encourages all theme developers to start planning for and working on this. In this Keyboard Navigation requirement, each and every task should be performable via keyboard, not only the menus but all functionalities.
“Theme authors must provide visual keyboard focus highlighting in navigation menus and for form fields, submit buttons and text links. All controls and links must be reachable using the keyboard.”
Accessibility Requirement – Key Board Navigation:
- Drop down menus and controls (open/close buttons for modals such as off-canvas sidebars or search forms.) must be available when tabbing.
- Do not remove the browsers native outline from the focusable elements without replacing it with an accessible alternative.
- Don’t break the browsers default focus by removing the outline. Authors can add other kinds of decorative changes. (Only showing the marker inside the field is not enough.)
- You can hide the Submit buttons during its normal state but it should be visible on focus.
- Do not remove the browsers native outline without replacing it with an accessible alternative.
- Focus order should match the visual order. Make sure that focus doesn’t move in unexpected ways around the page.
To learn these in detail, visit the original announcement post here.
The new accessibility requirements will apply to all themes on WordPress.org and not just the new ones entering the repo. With all the requirements introduced, the Theme Review team is only trying to make all the theme easier to use, especially for those with certain types of disabilities.