Just in time for Christmas, we released a significant update to both free and paid versions of Accessibility Checker. The update changes the way the plugin scans WordPress websites for accessibility problems. This release is the first of a series of updates to eliminate false positives in Accessibility Checker.
Historically, Accessibility Checker scans have all been PHP-based. The plugin uses PHP functions to get the HTML of the page and the CSS files, then evaluates both together. This type of scanning works very well for most of our rules but makes it hard to accurately analyze CSS-based issues like color contrast.
As the popularity of CSS variables increased over the past few years, we realized that it wasn’t enough to get the HTML and CSS. Accessibility Checker needed to be able to translate CSS variables into hex codes for evaluation. Without this ability, many false errors could be flagged for color contrast.
Keeping Accessibility Testing Affordable
Many accessibility tools utilize crawlers to scan live websites or API connections to an external server that renders pages in a virtual browser like Puppeteer. These are excellent options for accessibility scanning but add server costs to every scan, which can quickly get expensive.
The Equalize Digital dev team faced a challenge. We wanted to improve accuracy and reduce false positives while still keeping a robust free version of the plugin. It was important to us that we didn’t have to charge per-page scanning fees.
Depending on your WordPress theme, the impact of this change could be a significant improvement in the accuracy of your reports.
Here’s an example of a website with a theme that uses CSS variables. Before this release, the Open Issues report on this site showed 341,194 Insufficient Color Contrast errors.
After updating the plugin and running another full site scan, the website showed only 367 Insufficient Color Contrast errors.
All the false positives have been eliminated, and all that remains are actual color contrast errors that must be corrected.
If you have Accessibility Checker, update your plugin to see the improved scanning on your site. If you’re not yet checking your WordPress site for accessibility problems? Start using Accessibility Checker free today.