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The much-anticipated acronym a11y for accessibility has been in debate for quite some time in the WordPress space. It’s been more than a decade since this CMS has focused on democratizing content, and today more people have built their sites on open source scripts than ever before in the history of the web. With a 26.4% share of the global web comes great responsibility. And from here the concept of accessibility stepped in.

Learning About WordPress Accessibility

Lately, I’ve been struggling long and hard to learn something. That something is the WordPress accessibility and building products that are accessible to all. So, I decided to give this technique a shot, and when I skimmed through its basics, I found it intriguing.

I kicked off my research from the most basic definition of what does it mean to make WordPress accessible to all. Then in merely an hour or so, I managed to skim through all the useful links which anyone can find on the internet. Ahmad Awais recently wrote a post about WordPress accessibility support forum and had also mentioned a few helping links for this very purpose.

While going through this not-so-very arduous task, I came across a few statistics regarding accessibility in WordPress themes, and I’m listing theme down here.

Approximately 1% of all the themes which are a part of the WordPress repository are accessible. But a tremendous change is observed in the number of accessible-ready themes over the last year. When it comes to quoting figures about other related frameworks like Genesis, then the number further shrinks to like 0.2% of the total themes.

All these facts are quite alarming for a CMS like WordPress but later, I tried to figure out the possible reasons for it. The prime concern is that accessibility in themes is still an option till date unlike being responsive and retina ready.

The existence of accessibility-ready tag though defines full criteria for a theme to be accessible but have failed to gain a massive response from web developers because:

  • Developers fall short at accessibility because it’s not yet an acknowledged theme standard
  • The efforts that are put in making a theme accessible can be utilized in some other advanced feature of the theme

What Can Be Done?

All these speculations point to one common reason i.e. no complete solution exists in the market which delivers features to make themes accessible. And this unveiled a huge market which can be tapped by WordPress developers and agencies. I think the future holds perfect for WordPress accessibility if set in the right direction.

Over the past few years, the plugin repository has witnessed a constant increase in the number of products being added to it. According to a blog post at Addendio, there is a 3.2% relative increase, and we could expect 2016 to be another record year for WP plugins.

Therefore, the most basic business model one can start is by building a free accessibility plugin. Now the good news is that this niche is quite fresh and has ample opportunity for new plugins to thrive. If you browse for some popular WordPress accessibility plugins, then only a few search results appear. The only core plugin for this purpose is the WP Accessibility with over 10,000 active installs. So, a plugin with a similar or a much-extended functionality would do great.

Shortly, I’ve mentioned about the accessibility-ready tag which when included means that you want the reviewers at WordPress to check your theme for accessibility before going live. Based on this idea, you can start a full-fledged agency which provides services solely based on WordPress accessibility. You can become an authority just like Sucuri or many such solution providers. Based on user needs you can offer different packages which can generate a reasonable amount of revenue for you.

Conclusion

Being a part of this vibrant community, the responsibility lies on us to make accessibility accept as a standard theme feature both in free and premium themes. And this can only be done if more and more people start taking interest and come up with different ways to integrate this technique. I have mentioned a few of them. If you have any other idea to share regarding it, then post in the comment box below. I’d love to hear that from you.

As usual, don’t hesitate to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll aim to respond to each of them. You can also reach out to me at Twitter.

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