Gutenberg With A Screen Reader: Initial Thoughts And Reactions

Last weekend, during WordCamp Europe, Matt Mullenweg announced that Gutenberg, (the upcoming WordPress editor that will replace TinyMCE as well as become integrated into the WordPress customization experience), is now available for downloading and testing. So of course people have started playing with it, and Aaron Jorbin issued the following challenge on Twitter today.

The Gutenberg Challenge

I broke my own cardinal rule and installed this on a live site, because I need content to play with. I'll start with the good first. I appear to be able to add blocks and move them around using the visual editor part and a screen reader. Now for the not so good.

I can type a post title, but I have to add a block just to start typing text. I can see myself switching to text when this goes live, because writing a post like this is turning out to be incredibly inefficient, cumbersome even, and I'm not sure if that's because I'm just used to writing HTML and can do that in my sleep and so I don't use WYSIWYG editors, or if it's because of the software, or both. I'm also not sure if paragraphs are supposed to be in their own separate blocks although I suppose if you're going to be moving them around, they probably should be each in their own block. I can see this increasing the cumbersomeness exponentially. Right now I'm thinking of what it would be like to write one of the WordPress with a Screen Reader posts in this and I want to just crawl under my desk and never write again. I've lived in the WordPress dashboard daily since 2005, and I'm finding this really frustrating. I can see someone new to WordPress who uses a screen reader just giving up on this. Admittedly, as I mentioned above, this could all just be I'm not used to using a visual editor like this. I also realize that this is only six months along, and that it's in its early stages. I'll also continue to play with it so I can get used to this, and then explain it to other screen reader users. But I think I'm going to end here for now because this is completely overwhelming, I'm unable to separate my own experience from what's supposed to be happening and be fair and objective about this, and, (I'm only half joking here), Gutenberg is causing me to question my life choices right now.



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