How to Easily Achieve Accessibility with Specific WP Form Plugins

How to Easily Achieve Accessibility with Specific WP Form Plugins

In today’s digital age, accessibility is a key consideration for website owners. Ensuring that your website is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, is not only the right thing to do but also a legal requirement in many countries. One area where accessibility can be easily achieved is through the use of specific WP form plugins. In this article, we will explore how Gravity Forms and other popular WP form plugins fare in terms of accessibility and what steps they are taking to ensure compliance.

Gravity Forms, a widely popular form plugin, has invested heavily in web accessibility. With their 2.5 release, they made significant improvements to ensure their forms are accessible to all users. According to the WAVE web accessibility tool, Gravity Forms scores a perfect score out-of-the-box for their front-end forms. This means that website owners can rely on Gravity Forms to provide accessible forms without any additional configuration.

To delve deeper into Gravity Forms’ accessibility processes, I spoke with Morgan Kay, a software engineer at Gravity Forms who works closely with accessibility initiatives at the company. Kay explained that Gravity Forms conducts testing using keyboard and screen readers to ensure usability for all users. They also consider other factors such as mobile usability, compatibility with right-to-left (RTL) languages, and color contrast requirements.

One notable feature of Gravity Forms is its warning system. The plugin alerts users if they are utilizing a feature that has known accessibility issues. This valuable feature saves professionals valuable time and ensures that they are aware of any potential compliance concerns. Joe Dolson, a web accessibility consultant, commended this aspect of Gravity Forms, highlighting its usefulness for users.

When it comes to compliance standards, Gravity Forms promises WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) AA compliance. WCAG 2.1 AA is the standard required by most accessibility laws and provides a solid foundation for making websites accessible. Kay emphasized that WCAG 2.1 AAA, which is a more stringent standard, may not be necessary or realistic for all types of websites. Gravity Forms aims to ensure that their forms meet WCAG 2.1 AA requirements, not only because they want their forms to be accessible but also because it is required by some countries.

In my own testing, I found that Gravity Forms lives up to its promise of WCAG AA compliance out-of-the-box. Simply adding basic fields such as name, email, and phone ensures a compliant form. However, it is important to note that website owners can unintentionally break compliance by deleting default form labels or making other configuration changes. This highlights the importance of user diligence in meeting accessibility guidelines.

While Gravity Forms stands out in terms of accessibility, other WP form plugins may require more effort to achieve compliance. Contact Form 7, a popular free plugin, allows users to create accessible forms but requires a deeper understanding of accessibility principles. Accessibility consultants caution against recommending it to average users who may not have the necessary knowledge.

Gerson Lacdao, another web accessibility consultant, praised Gravity Forms for its accessibility efforts while providing constructive criticism of other WP form plugins. Lacdao highlighted the importance of properly coded field labels, noting that some plugins struggle with this basic accessibility requirement. Lacdao’s preferred form plugin for accessibility is WS Form, citing its availability of accessibility options without the need for additional coding.

One concern raised by Lacdao is that some form plugins are reactive rather than proactive when it comes to accessibility. He mentioned one popular WP form plugin that falls behind in addressing accessibility concerns promptly. Lacdao stressed the importance of proactively making products accessible to users and expressed frustration with plugins that only address issues based on user feedback or tickets.

When discussing web accessibility in the admin side of WP form plugins, it is essential to consider accessibility within the WordPress admin itself. Unfortunately, based on my tests using the WAVE tool, neither WordPress core nor any plugin or theme I tested fared well in terms of web accessibility within the admin. However, Gravity Forms acknowledges the importance of admin-side accessibility improvements and has undertaken a complete audit of their plugin. They are actively working on making the admin accessible and have planned improvements in their upcoming release.

In conclusion, achieving accessibility with specific WP form plugins can be made easier with the right choices. Gravity Forms demonstrates a strong commitment to accessibility, providing out-of-the-box WCAG AA compliance and valuable warning systems. While other form plugins may offer accessibility features, they may require more effort to configure for compliance. It is crucial for developers to prioritize proactive accessibility efforts and address issues promptly. As website owners strive to create inclusive online experiences, selecting an accessible form plugin is an essential step in the right direction.

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