January 26, 2021

Accessibility Team Meeting Notes: September 18, 2020


These are the weekly notes for the Accessibility Team meeting that happens on Fridays. You can read the full transcript on our Slack channel and find the meeting’s agenda here.

Update on WordPress 5.6 goals

Updating coding standards to WCAG 2.1

The team quickly discussed about the formulation of the WordPress accessibility coding standards.

All new or updated code released in WordPress must conform with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 at level AA.

As it doesn’t imply the Community needs to revise the entire WordPress codebase before upgrading from WCAG 2.0 to WCAG 2.1, the team agreed that the first step could be to simply change the number. Such change would be matched by a post on the Make blog with a quick explanation about the implications of such a change. @joedolson opened a pull request on the WordPress Coding Standard repository to upgrade to WCAG 2.1.

The scope of accessibility related documentation will be broadened and will include:

  • an introduction about accessibility guidelines, including links to normative and informative resources by the Web Accessibility Initiative of W3C;
  • a list of authoritative resources (in line with the indications from the documentation team about the external linking policy);
  • a list of anti-patterns that should be avoided inside WordPress;
  • a list of patterns that should be followed inside WordPress;
  • (optionally) a guide to test patches for accessiblity issues before merging.

Discussion about the new accessibility coding standards can continue in the #accessibility-docs channel in the Making WordPress Slack (requires registration); feedback can be added to the new accessibility coding standards draft and to the new accessibility testing guide draft.

Twenty Twentyone

Development of the new WordPress default theme is ongoing. A discussion about the links style happened during and after the meeting in a thread on Slack, the menu hasn’t been worked on yet.

The GitHub repository for Twenty Twenty One was made public in the week after the meeting and some members of the team are working on it and looking for possible accessibility issues.

Accessibility statement feature plugin

Developement of the accessibility statement plugin is underway. As reported by @sarahricker, at the moment there are two versions of the plugin.

  • The first version generates an accessibility statement using the exact same questions from the W3C accessibility statement generator and stores answers in the WordPress database, so that the statement can be regenerated with ease every time it needs to change.
  • The second version (which is currently at a Minimum Viable Product stage) aligns more closely with the acceptance criteria and mimics the Privacy Policy functionality currently in core.

The accessibility statement plugin repository is public and all people interested can give their contribution.

Gutenberg project board

A couple of days before the weekly meeting, the WordPress 5.6 milestone in the Gutenberg repository was deleted in favor of a GitHub project to track WordPress 5.6 must haves and all issues in the milesone have been moved to the new board.

To ease the workload from the few team members with triage status in the Gutenberg repository, the team agreed to ask those permissions for @sarahricker, @joedolson and @ryokuhi, given that they are already bug-gardeners or committers to WordPress core.

Sidebars accessibility in Gutenberg

Following last week’s discussion, further considerations about sidebars in Gutenberg were made. Here is a summary of the key points.

  • A sidebar is a layout model, not an interaction one: an element can be described as a “sidebar” because of its visual aspect, but not because of how users interact with it. A direct consequence is that there is no suitable, expected, semantic pattern that can be followed to implement all sidebars: each of them should be considered case by case.
  • It might be helpful to create a document collecting all the interface sidebars, so that issues and progresses related to each of them can be tracked more easily.
  • The complementary role and the aside element define landmarks: these are navigational tools that can be used to navigate easily between fixed sections of a page. As such, the complementary role can’t be used for components that slide in and out.
  • A possible alternative to sidebars might be to add more alternative modes, like the current “Edit” and “Select” ones. For example, to reorder blocks there could be a “Reorder” mode that transforms the editor canvas in a simplified list with mover buttons.