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How to be More Productive with your WordPress Dashboard and a Screen Reader

This post appears in its original form on Torque, but there have been a lot of changes in the direction of accessibility since this was first written, so it’s time for an updated version. In the original version, I focused on Jaws for Windows alone, while in this version I’ll include the Jaws information as well as NVDA-specific tips.

When it comes to accessibility and usability with screen readers, WordPress has made some enormous strides in the right direction over the past several versions.
Nonetheless, there are some techniques screen reader users can use to find what they want and get things done quickly within WordPress.

Find what you want and skip the rest

When you log into your Menu Humility plugin. It ensures that any settings page stays in the “settings” submenu of the WordPress administration menu. It still works on current versions of WordPress.

Collapse the menu if you’re not using it

The last thing I’ll usually do to increase productivity is to collapse the administration menu when I’m not using it. While I can navigate using headings, I’ll collapse the menu so that, when a page reloads, the screen reader doesn’t read all the links. Stopping speech with the “control” key is always an option, but keeping the menu collapsed and expanding it only when I need it is one less keystroke.

Tame admin notices

Admin notices can get out of hand incredibly quickly, because they’re often used by themes and plugins in ways that were never intended by WordPress. Admin notices don’t have their own heading either, and they show up on every administration screen of your WordPress site. To keep them under control, you’ll want to install a plugin called Dobby. This plugin takes all your admin notices and hides them behind a reveal button so you can deal with them at your convenience. Each notice is given a color code, which won’t be useful for most screen reader users. But hiding all the admin notices behind one button is useful in and of itself, and I recommend that you install this plugin along with Menu Humility before you install any other plugin or theme on your site.

The WordPress dashboard can become very cluttered very quickly as you start adding plugins. Clutter can be manageable if you spend all your time in WordPress, but since you probably don’t, using these tips will make working with your WordPress site less time-consuming, and therefore, less of a hassle.


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