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Cities: Making Accessible WordPress Themes

Presented by: Joseph Karr O'Connor

@AccessibleJoe, accessiblejoe@icloud.com


Challenge: Few accessible WordPress themes are available for free. Solution: Teams of accessibility practitioners around the world create free accessible WordPress themes.

Dedicated to Jennifer Sutton @jsutt who is persistent.

"This slideshow has been developed with jQuery Mobile to create a universally accessible presentation that will work on any accessibility enabled device. PowerPoint & PDF formats are not universally accessible."

Paul J. Adam

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URL: http://accessiblejoe.com/cities-csun13/

Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg smiling facing the camera in a restaurant booth

Introduction to WordPress


First released on May 27, 2003, by founders Mike Little @mikelittlezed1 and Matt Mullenweg @photomatt (pictured at left), WordPress is free open-source blogging software.


WordPress users may install and switch between themes. Themes allow users to change the look and functionality of a WordPress website or installation without altering the information content or structure.


WordPress has a rich plugin architecture which allows users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the features that are part of the base install. Plugins enable customizing the functionality of an application.

Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg smiling facing the camera in a restaurant booth

Introduction to WordPress


These small modules can be used to add functionality such as a slideshow, Facebook Like box, small news slider, and more.


WordPress MU allows multiple blogs to exist within one installation that is able to be administered by a centralized maintainer.

Other Features

WordPress also features integrated link management; a search engine-friendly, clean permalink structure; the ability to assign nested, multiple categories to articles; and support for tagging of posts and articles.

German issue of Beatles record albumn cover for soundrack for Help

Your Help Is Needed!

Now In Development: WordPress 3.6

Help is needed on the accessibility team to guide development of the back-end. Even if you can only spare a few minutes your help is essential.

Plugins and Widgets

Help is needed making accessibility enhancing plugins and widgets.


Help is needed making accessible themes. Especially important is the fact that very few free accessible themes are available.

How You Can Help

Who Is Helping Now?


Joe Dolson: WP Accessibility

The current version of the plugin can:

More plugins by Joe available at Accessible Web Design.


Joe Dolson: Modified Version of the Theme Check plugin

The current version of the plugin can do:

Graham Armfield: WordPress Permanently Visible Log Out Link Plugin

The current version of the plugin:


Rian Rietveld (opens in new window/tab)

"Plugin and theme developers should be required to show their work to their mother or grandmother, maybe then they'd discover, for example, that a grey site with grey characters is pretty hard to read when you're older."


The current version of the widget:

Theme Development

Installing WordPress Locally on Your Mac With MAMP

Run WordPress Locally on Linux, Solaris, Windows and Mac OS X With XAMPP

Check Your Theme With Theme Check Plugin

Accessible Themes

Rian Rietveld @RianRietveld

Mel Pedley

Accessible Themes

Per Sandström @persand

Newborn Joseph Lewthwaite, eyes closed clutching blanket with one hand.

Special shout out to Sarah Lewthwaite
@slewth who is not at #csun13
due to the birth of her son, Joseph.

And Now A Word About Accessible Content

Some Accessible Content Concerns

Themes in the WordPress.org Themes Directory

Themes available today: 1,701

Accessible themes available today: 4

Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes

"You can add the dangers of outdated themes, too. stc-access.org had serious spam problems that went undetected for 6 months. We were hit with link-bait stuff for certain "enhancement" products. Took a lot of (volunteer) time to clean out."

Karen Mardahl

How can we change this situation?


Teams In Cities Around the World Are Making Free Accessible WordPress Themes

The themes will be made available for free in the wordpress.org themes directory.

Teams are now working to make themes available in the next few months.

Special announcement: Elle Waters @Nethermind and the Simply Accessible team will be doing Accessible Ottowa!

Please consider forming a Cities team, we need more free accessible themes!



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