How To Pick A Theme When You’re Visually Impaired: Some quick Tips

This post is the result of a quick discussion on Twitter that I think should be saved for later bookmarking/reference. Also, my Twitter client has some weird focusing issues which means the first part of the reply was sent to the wrong person. (Sorry about that Adrian). Lastly, Twitter seriously broke the thread so if you try to search for related posts you’re missing half of it.

Wendy Delfosse asks on Twitter:

Best places to start for learning to use WordPress with visual impairment? A user wants to know how to pick a great theme since he won’t be able to verify the design himself. Any tips greatly appreciated.


More specifically, the user Wendy is asking on behalf of is looking for help with making sure their site looks good with background images, fonts, ETC. I responded in multiple replies with several tips based on my experience. Here are those tips.

Picking a great theme is very much dependent on what you consider great, including visually. Also, in the case of visually impaired, blind specifically, whether you have visual elements like images, for example, to help make a theme look like the demmo, except with your content/site.

So, to start with, does this user have a concept of what they’re looking for visually in a site? If not, I’d say start with an accessibility ready theme and then, once you’ve figured out branding/colors/images ETC., go from there.

Also keep in mind that no out-of-box theme will have everything you want. So make a list of things that are essential in a theme, then nice-to-haves, and then, once ready to grow, decide on budget for hiring out the visual work of site building/design.

Find a sighted person you can trust. Looks good is also unfortunately one of those things that to a large extent is in the eye of the beholder. Knowing what you want from a site in terms of who the audience is for the site is also helpful in this, because it helps narrow down the “looks good” part.

If it’s something like a personal site though, I’d go with picking an accessibility ready theme, and then, after that, don’t worry so much about how it looks to others except for basic contrast issues, which accessibility ready themes will cover adequately. In short, if it’s a personal site, just be yourself.

One last thing. When picking a sighted person to trust with this stuff, stick with one person. Be careful about second opinions as sighted people who are not designers/familiar with design principles/accessibility will give you widely varrying and often conflicting results. It’s kind of the same thing as asking a random sighted person how your clothing looks.

Off the top of my head, I think this covers the basics from this perspective. But, if there’s something I haven’t thought of, feel free to leave it in the comments, and I’ll update this post accordingly.



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