Some WP Form Plugins Make Accessibility Easy – WP Tavern

Some WP Form Plugins Make Accessibility Easy – WP Tavern

According to the WAVE web accessibility tool, Gravity Forms scores excellent for their front-end forms. Same with Ninja Forms, Contact Form 7 and WP Forms.

I tested 2 other popular WP form plugins which didn't work well either.

Gravity Forms' investment in web accessibility is paying dividends

Tavern reported in 2021 that Gravity Forms invested heavily in web accessibility with their 2.5 release and also reported that Gravity Forms provides a lot of information about their approach to accessibility.

I was interested in digging deeper into Gravity Forms' specific web accessibility processes.

“We do our testing with keyboards and screen readers,” says Morgan Kay, a software engineer at Gravity Forms who works closely with the company's accessibility initiatives.

“We also consider some other implications, such as how functional the app is on mobile, how it looks in RTL language, and whether we have enough color contrast.”

Gravity Forms also tries to help novice users recognize when they're making a change that could break accessibility.

“One thing Gravity Forms does that's particularly valuable is that it warns you if you're using a feature with known accessibility issues, and that's a huge time-saver for professionals,” says web accessibility consultant Joe Dolson. :

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Is WCAG AA sufficient? What about WCAG? AAA:– Compliance?

Gravity Forms promises WCAG AA compliance, which is a great place to start for anyone looking to make a website more accessible to users.

“WCAG2.1 AA is a standard required by most accessibility laws,” says Gravity Forms' Kay.

For comparison, WCAG2.1 AAA: is very strict and includes some standards that are not necessarily realistic or necessary for all types of sites,” Kay adds.

“Our goal is to make sure (our forms) comply with WCAG 2.1AA,” Kay says. “This is not only because we want our forms to be accessible, but also because some countries require it.”

“We provide tools that allow users to create WCAG-compliant forms, but ultimately it's up to the user to make sure they're following all the guidelines to meet those requirements,” Kay adds.

I tested that statement in the wild and it's true. Gravity Forms gives you all the tools to make your front-end form WCAG AA compliant without any configuration.

For example, if you simply add name, email, and phone fields to a Gravity Form, it will be WCAG AA compliant.

However, site owners can, and often do, violate compliance arbitrarily or unknowingly. For example, deleting default form tags will break compliance.

You don't have to go far on the web to run into a text input field without a proper label. This is often done for aesthetic reasons, such as hiding labels to make the form more compact.

What about other WP form plugins?

While other form plugins can create accessible forms, they are not as easy to configure for WCAG and ADA compliance, according to some accessibility consultants.

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“For free plugins, Contact Form 7 lets you create very affordable forms, but you have to know what you're doing. It's a good tool if you put in the work, but I wouldn't recommend it to the average user,” Dolson says.

Another web accessibility consultant, Gerson Lacdao, expressed his appreciation for Gravity Forms' efforts, adding some constructive criticism of other WP form plugins.

“Some (form plugins) have issues with the most basic (web accessibility) things, like properly coded field labels,” Lacdao says.

His favorite form app today is WS Form.

“In terms of accessibility, I'd probably put (the WS Form plugin) at the top,” Lacdao says. “I like how accessible the accessibility options are (in WS form) and I don't need to add any extra CSS or JS hacks to make it work better.”

Some form of plugin accessibility efforts seem reactive rather than proactive

Lacdao mentioned one example of a popular WP form plugin that is on the web accessibility front end (I was unable to reach the plugin developer for comment and therefore decided not to name the plugin here).

“The effort (to make that plugin available) is mostly reactive and so far only based on tickets or feedback from some users,” Lacdao said. “It's something I'm a little disappointed about because I think it's part of their commitment to users to proactively make their products available.”

In addition to clearly making an active effort on the web accessibility front, the Gravity Forms team is always looking for new problems.

Kay of Gravity Forms explains: “We usually investigate (availability tickets) as soon as they are reported, and we can usually fix (them) within one or two small releases.”

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How about making WP form plugins available on the admin end?

It's hard to talk about web accessibility from the admin side of any app without talking about WordPress admin accessibility at all.

Based on my tests using the WAVE tool, neither WordPress core nor any The plugin or theme I tested performed well with web access within the admin.

That said, admin accessibility improvements are definitely on Gravity Forms' agenda.

“(A top accessibility consultant) did a full audit of our plugin in the dashboard, so we know what we need to do to make Gravity Forms accessible in the admin,” Kay said. “We are working on making it accessible to the admin, and there will be some improvements in Gravity Forms 2.9.”

Notes

  • WAVE is a testing tool powered by WebAIM and is also used by many web accessibility consultants as a data point to determine how a web page is performing on the accessibility front. It's not a perfect tool, but it's a great place to start.
  • For inclusion in this article, I applied to WP Forms, Ninja Forms, and Forminator Pro in addition to Gravity Forms. Only Gravity Forms responded meaningfully to my requests for comment. I encourage other plugin developers to leave their thoughts in the comments.

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