Six accessible WordPress themes that we use on our multisite
With the UK Government accessibility requirements affecting the University from September 2020, the Digital Communications team are making sure that all areas of the University website are accessible. This includes our WordPress multisite and we’ve decided to offer only the following six themes at this time that meet at least the level AA requirements of the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
University WordPress theme
This is the default WordPress theme on our multisite and has been developed by Digital Communications using the digital pattern library. The theme has the same look and feel of the main University website and gives users the freedom to create their own layouts using the patterns found within the DPL. More information about the theme’s features can be found on the University WordPress theme documentation page. The theme documentation is also contained within the theme itself.
We have chosen GeneratePress as one of our available accessible themes as it’s a user-friendly theme that is focussed on SEO, performance, and customisation. We have also purchased GP Premium (the premium version of the theme) which vastly increases its customisation options for all aspects of your site.
Neve is another accessible theme that has been optimised for speed, is SEO friendly, and integrates well using the new Gutenberg block editor as well as other page builders. One of its most powerful features is its header and footer builder that allows users to create bespoke header, navigation, and footer layouts.
Gridd is a theme that has been built with accessibility in mind from the ground up. The theme itself is highly customisable and allows users to create their own page, header, and footer layouts. One extremely useful feature is that the colour of certain elements on your site (such as links) will be calculated based on the colours you select to ensure the colour contrast meets WCAG standards which in turn, increases readability for all.
Twenty Twenty is WordPress’s default theme for the year of 2020 and has been designed with the flexibility of the Gutenberg block editor at its core. Like the Gridd theme, to help with accessibility, the colours of the different elements on the site are based on the colours that are picked in the customiser, ensuring that the colour contrast is sufficient for the UK accessibility requirements.
Twenty Twenty-One is the new WordPress theme for 2021 and like the Twenty Twenty theme, it has been built to be best used with the Gutenberg block editor and the new blocks available in the WordPress 5.6 update. This theme also goes the extra mile for accessibility by incorporating standards from level AAA of the WCAG 2.1 guidelines.
At the time of writing this post, these are the only themes that are available to site owners, but it doesn’t mean other themes won’t be added. With more focus and awareness of web accessibility, I expect more themes to comply with WCAG 2.1 AA guidelines in the future.
If you’re currently an admin of one of the sites on our multisite and you would like to use an accessible theme that’s not on this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the theme, and after testing it, we may make it available to use for everyone.