[theme-reviewers] Accessible theme issues

esmi at quirm dot net esmi at quirm.net
Fri Sep 28 11:42:16 UTC 2012

on 27/09/2012 23:48 Bryan Hadaway said the following:
> Therein lies the trouble, see, we've already gotten subjective into what is
> considered "accessible". I say something is an accessibility issue, you say
> it isn't. We're both merely forming our opinions (neither of us are stating
> facts - I hope you do realize that).

Actually, there is a clear distinctions between accessibility & 
usability. This isn't subjective. Accessibility is specific to disabled 
users. Full stop.

> Is a media heavy website accessible to users with really slow internet?
> Yes, in 2012 that is still a factor, there are still even complete dead
> zones (no internet at all) in the US.

That's nothing to do with accessibility.

> What about colors for the color blind?

Yes - that's an accessibility issue and quite easy to test for.

> What about font size, color and typography for the hard of sight?


> What about sliders or flashing graphics for epileptics?

Sliders aren't an issue, per se. The amount of flashing allowed is 
clearly and precisely defined in WCAG 2.

> What about responsiveness for people with small screens?

That's nothing to do with accessibility.

> And the list goes on and on and on.

No, it doesn't. Just like a theme review, an accessibility review is 
usually tightly defined and transparent.

> Accessibility is a good thing, I don't see how anyone could argue that, but
> to enforce that standard to any degree is a tough one.

Which standard? There are three Levels that can be applied - A, AA, and 
AAA. Can a WordPress site reach AAA? Yes - it's been done and even be 
used as a cited example by WCAG.

Should a WPORG theme be tested against AAA? Absolutely not! That would 
be ridiculous. Better to start with A and perhaps a few of the more 
important AA criteria via a published list of criteria/guidelines 
specific to WPORG themes. After all, we have to be pragmatic about this. 
Even the most accessible AAA theme could be wrecked in 5 minutes by an 
unthinking author.

> Any one of the above
> issues might stop half the people submitting themes right now dead in their
> tracks. Would it be better to filter them out or help them get their theme
> approved anyways, because it will still be a theme with enough value to
> help out thousands of people?

Why on earth would saying "If you want your theme tagged as 
"accessible", here are the criteria it will be assessed against" stop 
anyone from submitting a theme? Remember, the keyword there is "If". No 
one is suggesting any kind of mandatory requirement.

Will all theme devs take this up? Definitely not. Will some? Yes. Maybe 
only a few percent but it's a start.

> And there's also simply a factor of fun here, there are a lot of awful,
> ugly themes in the repository, but so be it, because in the spirit of an
> open source community, come one, come all and contribute (and a theme I
> might find unusable and ugly someone else might think is awesome and
> perfect for their project).

If a theme submitted with an accessibility tag fails the accessibility 
review but passes all of the theme review criteria, then no one is 
suggesting that it should not be approved. Merely that it doesn't 
warrant an accessible tag. That's all.

> I totally get what you're saying about at least making it possible to
> filter out the best quality themes from all the other themes (I just don't
> see how that's impossible unless we made the review process more strict).

No - not best quality. Most accessible. There's a small but definite 
demand for such themes. Primarily from those building sites for 
charities etc. They'd like to start with a reasonable base, that's all.

> I'm curious, have you submitted or are you currently working on an
> accessible theme?

I have 4 themes in the Repo. Every one has been built from the ground up 
with accessibility in mind - even to correcting core issues - because 
I'm pretty much incapable of doing it any other way. I am not about to 
differentiate them from any other theme by calling them "Accessible Blah 
Blah". In my mind, that would be unethical as a theme can, in no way, 
guarantee an accessible site and, given that accessibility is mandated 
by law in some countries, we must be careful not to inadvertently over 
sell accessible themes to non-technical site owners. Instead I've tried 
to work it into the theme description but that makes it hard for people 
- who are looking for an accessible base theme - to find them.

I also know of at least two accessible child themes of Twenty Eleven. 
With the submission of child themes coming closer, both should be in the 
Repo *and* be easy to find.

Having initially been dragged, kicking & screaming, into the whole theme 
submission criteria (as Chip & Edward might attest to if they weren't 
such gentlemen), I would be the last person to propose yet another 
burden on theme developers. Instead what is being suggested is an 
additional OPTIONAL review only for those who WISH to flag their 
submitted theme as accessible.


More information about the theme-reviewers mailing list