It's your fave WordPress weekly email, now at issue 89!

<<Name>>, hello!

Welcome back to MasterWP Weekly, your weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals 👋

What we’re up to:

Alex profile pic Alex is looking forward to spending half the day you’re reading this building a wardrobe. It doesn’t get better than this!

Ben profile picBen is enjoying the half term with his family.

What’s coming up: this week is an accessibility special, getting you up to speed on the how, why, and what’s happening with accessibility.

- Alex and Ben


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Regarding Accessibility in Gutenberg 

Gutenberg IS Accessible?

Following the Gutenberg discussions in recent weeks, the Core Gutenberg team have posted an update on accessibility in Gutenberg, in which they try to establish there are some accessibility features in Gutenberg. This is true! They are right this has been lost a little in the debate (Automattic also has a new job listing for Product Designer, Accessibility).

However, whilst what has been done is good, what hasn’t been done is important.

Indeed, there are some basic functionality – like copying and pasting – that is almost impossible with the new editor. Here’s an example given in the comments: “In the case of cutting/pasting 2½ paragraphs it’s not just hard, it’s impossible.”

This is something I have experienced too. If you select one paragraph of text then Gutenberg switches to block selection, so you can only select whole blocks of content, and not partial ones. And when you do copy content, you don’t just copy content, you copy the html and code comments that structure the blocks. I don’t think this is something people would expect. Copy text from the classic editor and paste it into Word and you get text.

Another example is keyboard navigation: they talk about blocks being selectable with the keyboard, and perhaps they are if you use the secret ‘slash’ selector (type / at the start of a block followed by the block name and you can select blocks from a list), but if you press the plus button and type a block name you can’t use arrows to select the displayed blocks (which is something I have tried and failed to do on more than one occasion).

I’m an advocate for Gutenberg, but these are a couple of the problems I have experienced, so I can only guess how much more frustrating it would be if I had a disability of some sort.

Jen Simmons recently tweeted about the Gutenberg Accessibility debate and put it better than I could:

I can't stop thinking about the fact that @WordPress (which “powers 31% of the internet”), is about to ship a massive overhaul of their interface without making sure that it's accessible. Why was #a11y not a blocker for every new feature, so nothing inaccessible was ever allowed?

In the comments Matt Mullenweg replied and said (emphasis mine):

We think that the current interface could be a ton more streamlined, but we’ve compromised a lot of the alternative approaches we’ve wanted to take based on accessibility feedback and trying to have a single interface that serves all types of users

The idea that Accessibility is a compromise is a fallacy. Making something more accessible makes things better for everyone. As I showed above, there’s areas where I have had the same problems that are raised in the comments.

Accessibility is for all. Not just physical and mental disabilities (and not just blind people) but people using one hand on a phone, or being distracted by children (or cats?), or on slow connections, or with temporary problems such as a broken arm, or a migraine, or even those that are not very good at computers. All sorts of things. For something as complex as Gutenberg improving A11Y can only have a net benefit. There’s no downside. - Ben.

Being Continually Shot Down Because of Accessibility Needs is Not Something Anyone Should Expect

On WordCamp video captioning, and accessibility concerns

We touched on some of the tweets mentioned in this post, from Ahmed Khalifa, last week, but I’d recommend reading this too: Ahmed is deaf/hard of hearing, and this is his write up of his attempts to add captions to WordCamp talks so he can watch them.

Only 45 videos on are captioned, out of literally thousands. Captioning is incredibly time consuming and labour intensive, but as Ahmed says, talks like Matt Mullenweg’s WordCamp Europe Summertime Update are important, and one would at least hope for these to be done.

Matt’s reaction on this of “The videos get so few viewers I don’t know if it’s a worthwhile area of focus.” speaks to the heart of why people are concerned about accessibility: the whole point is accessibility is there for the least able, and that will always be a minority group. - Alex.

Inclusive Components

Building the web for all

If you’re going to be building things for WordPress (or the web in general) then it’s a good idea to create accessible html, and then make it look nice with CSS. CSS is really powerful and there are generally very few limits so as long as you have a semantic, accessible foundation then your code will work well for everyone.

If you’re creating something more complex than a blog, or information based site then Heydon Pickerings Inclusive Components are a great starting point. They give you clean html that works in all browsers and is inclusive by default. All you have to do is make it look nice.

For reference Heydon wrote an article explaining what he means regarding inclusive design on 24Ways a couple of years ago. That’s an interesting read as well!

This is a great resource for theme or plugin developers. - Ben.

Accessibility Weekly

A web accessibility newsletter

Compiled by Automattic's David A Kennedy, Accessibility weekly is a weekly collection of accessibility related links. The links cover everything A11Y, the hows, and whys, and news of new developments. It’s a great way to stay on top of accessibility news. - Ben.

Accessibility in government

The UK Government Digital Service's blog on accessibility is fantastic

Finally this week, here's some reading from the UK Government Digital Service, who've done a really great job with accessibility on Government websites in recent years.

Posts like What we learned from getting our autocomplete tested for accessibility, Advice for making events and presentations accessible, and How we’ve made GOV.UK Elements even more accessible are packed with insight, and are well worth a read for inspiration and practical advice on how accessibility can be done at scale. - Alex.

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"It was as if the Zen master had hit us over the head with a stick, but instead of finding enlightenment we walked away more confused than ever."
- Yvon Chouinard
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