If Accessibility Checker has flagged errors in your theme or you have discovered errors in your theme while performing manual accessibility checks, there are a few options for resolving these errors depending upon the theme you are using and your level of comfort with editing code.
How to Fix Accessibility Errors in Your WordPress Theme if You Are Not a Developer
If you are not a developer or not comfortable editing the code on your website, there are three options for getting accessibility errors in your WordPress theme fixed:
Request Support for Free WordPress Themes
If you’re using a free WordPress theme from the WordPress.org directory, you can submit a support request in the support forum for your theme on WordPress.org. The support forum can be found by:
- Go to the WordPress theme directory.
- Search for your theme by name in the search box.
- When your theme appears, click or follow the link to go to the page with more information on the theme.
- In the theme page sidebar, under the Support heading, there is a link (styled to look like a button” that says “View support forum.”
- You will have to create or log in with a WordPress.org account to post in the support forum.
- Once you have logged into the support forum, you can create a new topic at the bottom of the page. Make sure to give the developer(s) as much information as possible, including a link to your website, to make it easier for them to fix the error.
Note: your mileage may vary with regards to getting the theme developer to fix the theme correctly depending upon his or her knowledge of accessibility, the age of the theme, and how much support he or she is providing for their free theme. (Some free themes receive no support.) If the support request goes unanswered, see the sections below for other ways to get your theme fixed.
Request Support for Premium WordPress Themes
If you’re using a theme that you purchased, you may be able to receive support from the theme developer depending upon how long ago you made the purchase and what their support policies are.
If your website uses a premium theme, your best bet is to first check the website of the theme developer or any third-party marketplaces where you may have purchased the theme to see what their support policy is. If you do not have an active support license for your theme, either because you are not on a recurring payment plan or because someone else (like a developer) purchased the theme for you, you may need to purchase the theme again in order to receive support.
If the developer does not provide support or is unable to make the accessibility fix for one reason or another, then you may need to hire a third-party developer to fix the theme for you.
Hire a Developer to Fix Your Theme
If the theme developer is unable or unwilling to fix the accessibility error in your theme and you’re not a developer then you have two options: you can hire a third-party developer to fix the theme or you can switch to a different theme.
Choosing to hire a developer to fix your theme is typically a good choice if:
- your website is relatively new.
- you like the way your website looks and functions aside from the accessibility error.
- there are minimal accessibility problems in the theme and starting over would be considerably more expensive.
When interviewing developers, you’ll want to ask them how experienced they are with accessibility. Not all developers are accessibility experts, and if they don’t have the right knowledge they may not fix the error(s) on your site correctly.
If you need custom development and accessibility support, Equalize Digital is happy to help. You can request a custom quote for one-time fixes or purchase a priority support package of 2, 4, or 8 hours each month. The International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) is also a good place to find qualified developers.
Resources If You Want to Make Fixes Yourself
If you’re interested in resolving the accessibility errors in your WordPress theme yourself, we recommend reviewing the following resources to gain a better understanding of WordPress theme development.
Particularly, you’ll want to review the information about child themes, because if your theme is receiving updates and you make your fixes directly in that theme, your fixes will be lost when updates are run. No one wants to put in a bunch of hard work only to have their hard work disappear when the update button is pressed.
Sometimes it’s Better to Start Over
If your WordPress theme has a large number of errors that require significant portions of the theme to be re-coded, there are times when it makes sense to start over with your website and select a new theme that is more accessible or is “accessibility-ready.”
If you’re not sure if you should fix the errors in your theme or if you should choose a new theme, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been using this theme for a long time?
- Does the cost or time to fix the accessibility issues in the theme exceed the cost or time of choosing a new theme (or hiring a company to build a new theme)?
- Is the theme still meeting my needs from a marketing standpoint or is it time for a refresh anyway?
- Are there other technical issues in my theme aside from accessibility problems (things like not Gutenberg compatible, not mobile responsive, bloat or speed issues, etc.)?
Answering those questions will help you to decide whether to fix the accessibility problems in your current WordPress theme or whether it’s time to build a new accessible website.