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Ideas

Make the dropdown navigation menu keyboard-accessible

  1. janh52
    Member

    12345

    As is, the front-end dropdown menu created by the core (wp_nav_menu in wp-includes/nav-menu-template.php) is not keyboard-accessible. This makes most WordPress sites' navigation difficult or even impossible for whole groups of folks with disabilities. I know there is a plug-in for accessible dropdown menus, but (1) it only works on certain themes; and (2) shouldn't this functionality be core??? Let's make sure all WordPress sites can be used by ALL!

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  2. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Half-Elf Support Rogue & Mod

    Have you tested with the MP6 plugin, or on WP 3.8? The back end of WP has had an overhaul.

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  3. janh52
    Member

    12345

    I think MP6 and WP 3.8 are more about changes to the admin-ui (backend). I'm talking about the dropdown menu on the front-end, i.e., the one that site visitors will use when they visit a site created using WP.

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  4. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Half-Elf Support Rogue & Mod

    Oh! That's entirely theme dependent, if I understand what you mean. The problem is there isn't ONE 'works for all situations' menu that I'm aware of, but @esmi would know better.

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  5. janh52
    Member

    12345

    Can you help me understand how the nav menu is "theme dependent" when wp_nav_menu that creates it is in the WP core? I'm not a programmer, but I've tried and tried to understand the code, and I'm having a hard time understanding how it's theme dependent unless the theme doesn't use wp_nav_menu or other related parts of the core. Thanks!

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  6. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Half-Elf Support Rogue & Mod

    It goes back to what is 'proper' keyboard accessibility. You noted yourself there are multiple ways to make it accessible, different plugins and all. That's because there isn't a single answer that solves all the problems with accessibility and some cause problems for people who other accessibility issues :/

    Do you use <ul role="navigation"> or JS? Are they all handled equally by all keyboards/screenreaders? Nope! *head desk*

    What WP does is set up a framework which can be utilized and expanded on by themes to make it accessible in the way they determine is correct.

    This is not the long term answer, mind you!

    Here's one ticket on the matter: http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/24839

    And it highlights the background issue:

    This can only be done with Javascript. Unfortunately, we don't have the CSS4 subject selector yet.

    Guess what ain't gonna work for everyone? Javascript. *fist shake*

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  7. janh52
    Member

    12345

    Thanks for the response, Mika. Yes, it is a complicated mess, isn't it? Still, I think perhaps picking an accessible alternative as the default would be far better than defaulting to NOT being keyboard-accessible, wouldn't it? I wish I had the programming chops to help out with this effort, but alas, not so much...

    It seems the WP Accessibility group is the right one to look at this issue, but at the moment, they seem to be focused on making the back-end (Admin UI) more accessible--also a worthy goal.

    Here's hoping somebody with better skills than me will turn his or her attention to the front-end dropdown nav menu SOON, for the sake of many, many folks out there accessing WP sites.

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  8. Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)
    Half-Elf Support Rogue & Mod

    That would be the other problem. If we had infitnite skilled devs, we'd be done. We don't though :/ so we can't fault people for picking the battle they're fighting.

    Posted: 8 months ago #
  9. Joe Dolson
    Member

    I just ran across this, so I'm going to mention a plug-in that was created by Graham Armfield and Amy Hendrix for the purpose of adding keyboard accessibility to theme menus. It won't work on every theme, but it's worth a try.

    http://wordpress.org/plugins/accessible-dropdown-menus/

    It's not possible for us to effectively force an accessible dropdown menu for WordPress themes, as Mika stated, this is totally theme dependent. wp_nav_menu() generates the HTML structure of the menu, but that is a nominal part of what makes a menu accessible: the structure is sound and ensures that it's possible to have an accessible menu, but the actual functionality and appearance of the menu are what will dictate whether it's accessible, and those are at the mercy of theme developers.

    Posted: 3 months ago #

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  • Status

    This idea is under consideration