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WordPress with a Screen Reader
WordPress may have started out as a humble blogging platform. As of this writing, it is a full-blown content management system and application platform, and its administration panel comes in three official forms:
- WordPress Single Site
- WordPress Multisite
- Calypso, the WordPress.com user interface
Like WordPress, screen readers are very complex pieces of software. They attempt to present what people who have perfect or near-perfect eyesight see on their screens to people with little to no eyesight by interpreting what visually appears on the screen and then rendering that into a linear view which is consumed piece-by-piece instead of all at once.
Because of the level of complexity of both WordPress and screen readers, as things currently stand, you need to either be an advanced screen reader user, an advanced WordPress user, or both to accomplish site administration tasks efficiently and with little frustration.
This series of posts is designed to help people who use WordPress who also use a screen reader like Jaws for Windows or NVDA manage their WordPress sites without needing to be a screen reader power user or without needing to flip back and forth between their screen reader's documentation, the WordPress Codex, and their WordPress installation.
This series documents each of WordPress's administration screens in detail, using language familiar to people who use screen readers, thus eliminating the extra work of mentally translating from visual, mouse-driven language to non-visual language. It translates WordPress concepts along the way, explaining how each is visually understood and then translating the visual explanations into non-visual language. Each post in this series is updated to reflect any changes in WordPress's administration screens that will have an impact on people who use screen readers.
Individuals and businesses who build WordPress sites or provide one-on-one support can combine the posts in this series with the relationship they already have with their clients to provide training and support when their clients are also people who use screen readers. WordPress theme and plugin authors who cannot afford to hire an accessibility expert or who cannot afford to pay for useability testing by people with disabilities can also use this series as a guide while testing their theme options panels, customizer controls, or plugin settings and other administration panels with a screen reader. Each post tackles a specific WordPress administration screen, and provides the necessary screen reader keystrokes for navigating around and manipulating items on the screen. There will be at least one exception to this model: The WordPress content editing experience. This is because this portion of the series needs to cover the WordPress text editor, the TinyMCE visual editor, the editors in Calypso, and Gutenberg, which itself presents a whole new set of concepts, most of which do not yet have non-visual vocabulary people who use screen readers can use to assist them in developing a mental model of how the Gutenberg experience works.
Help Keep This Series Free
Each post in this series takes a significant amount of time to research,
write, and edit. In order to make this effort sustainable, I would need to
charge a minimum of $100 U.S. per month in order to compensate for the time
it takes to write this material and the size of the screen reader users
market, which is around 5% of the total market of people with disabilities. This series benefits the whole WordPress community as we strive to create a
more open and more inclusive internet. The group of people who will benefit from this series the most are also the
least equipped to afford to pay a fee like this to access it. In the United
States, as of 2015, 58% of the blind
community is unemployed, and 29% live below the poverty line. Most of these people live
on a fixed income that is less than $1,000 per month.
Your sponsorship will ensure that everyone who uses screen readers
with WordPress get the same opportunity as those who do not use screen
readers: documentation they can freely use to learn WordPress, similar to
what exists in the WordPress Codex for mouse users.
This content has to stay free for screen reader users, and for everyone
else. There’s no flag you can set to detect if a site visitor is also a
screen reader user that can be used to then unlock content. And given the
horrible things being done with technology just in the last year alone,
being able to detect screen readers is technology that should never exist.
The amount of time It takes to maintain this is not something I can do for
free and so I’m asking, as an alternative to charging premium prices for
this documentation, for donations in order to keep this material free
to the WordPress community in general and people who use screen readers in
particular. Your financial assistance will ensure that each WordPress
administration screen is properly documented for people who use screen
readers, and that each post is updated when a change to WordPress requires
it. Every donation helps, and there are some sponsorship opportunities as
In exchange for making this possible, the generosity of sponsors will be
acknowledged with the name, logo, and a link to their flagship product
several times in each post.
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