New accessible dropdown menus plugin for WordPress now available

Good news for accessibility on the web: a new open source plugin to make dropdown menus more accessible to people with disabilities is now available for several WordPress themes, including the popular Twenty Ten through Twenty Thirteen themes. The accessible dropdown menu plugin was made possible by Amy Hendrix, Graham Armfield, AdaCamp attendees, and the supporters of the Ada Initiative.

Picture of a laptop with screen reader attached

One screen reader, CC-BY Paul Downey

An AdaCamp attendee pointed out that the menus on the Ada Initiative and AdaCamp web sites did not work for people using screen readers, a device that converts text or other information on a computer screen into speech, Braille, or other forms of output usable by people with visual impairment. As a result, much of our web site content was hidden from anyone with a range of disabilities, including visual impairment and difficulty using a mouse.

We immediately asked our WordPress consultant, Amy Hendrix, to make our menus accessible. Amy adapted an open source accessible menus plugin written by Graham Armfield for the Twenty Twelve theme we use on our web sites and installed it within days of the request.

Now the accessible dropdown menus is available for free download on the WordPress plugin directory, with Amy and Graham supporting the plugin together going forward. If you are using any of the Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, or Underscore themes, you can install the plugin today. If you aren’t, you can request adding support for your theme to the plugin (or pay Amy to do the work, as we did).

Why is accessibility important for women in open tech/culture?

Improving accessibility is a key part of supporting all women in open technology and culture, not just able-bodied women. Accessibility at conferences is particularly important in open tech/culture given how central conferences are to participating in these communities. To help understand the effect of paying attention to accessibility, you can read Liz Henry’s post on her recent experiences with accessibility at work and conferences.

Just a few ways to improve the accessibility of your events and web sites:

Accessibility lane at WisCon

CC-BY-NC sandphin

To learn more about improving accessibility at conferences, start with WisCon’s accessibility policy.

Thank you to AdaCampers, Amy Hendrix, Graham Armfield, and the supporters of the Ada Initiative for making this work possible!