Chris Ashton

dai11y 12/01/2022

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Accessibility of Content Management Systems – what’s stopping us?

Back in October 2020, I wrote about how W3C decided not to use WordPress because it was considered inaccessible. They opted for the proprietary Craft CMS instead, as “the Craft team had made the commitment for Craft v4 to comply with ATAG AA standards“. At the time, this spawned a bit of an internet war, pitting ‘accessibility’ against ‘open source’.

In today’s article (also available as a video, 26m), Marie Manandise reflects on her role at Studio 24, the agency tasked with redesigning the W3C site. Marie’s job was to choose the right CMS.

Marie talks of “the accessibility paradox”, where CMS providers all claim to “care very much about accessibility”, even when none of them are considered accessible. She suggests that we take for granted how difficult accessibility is to get right, and what resources are needed.

For example, to properly test that website navigation is accessible to a non-sighted user, Marie says you need to do paired testing: a sighted and non-sighted user sitting side by side, in front of a screen. And that you need to test in the same manner every time you update your website.

CMS developers “don’t have the knowledge to make the assessment” as to whether or not their CMS is accessible. “Most of us are clueless at accessibility”. Accessibility groups embedded in CMS vendor organisations tend to be “operating in the margins”. Marie says that accessibility experts have an image problem, and don’t carry the “aura of security experts, for example”.

So what can we do about it? Echoing Eric Eggert’s points the other day, the answer is to simplify the learning material / specifications, and to ensure that accessibility is on the curriculum at courses and bootcamps.

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