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Building An Accessible WordPress-Powered Web Application

taught by: Amber Hinds

Session Summary

This session will present a case study on building an accessible website and customer portal for a Texas workforce center, powered by WordPress. We'll discuss how accessibility was included at every phase of the project from user journey mapping to design, development, user testing, and launch.


Over 35% of websites are powered by WordPress and government and educational institutions are increasingly listing WordPress as their content management system of choice when requesting proposals - even when their needs are very complex. In recent years, WordPress has become a powerful tool capable of providing the foundation of web applications in addition to more basic brochure websites, however special considerations need to be taken to ensure that WordPress sites are accessible.

Workforce Solutions Panhandle has a WordPress website and customer portal that launched in February 2020, just before pandemic restrictions created a significant spike in unemployment and a need for workforce staff to onboard customers remotely. A year later, the site has served over 30,000 customers, including a number of persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. This is possible in no small part due to the attention paid to accessibility at every step of the project.

Through the lens of the Workforce Solutions Panhandle website and portal, we'll examine the process from start to finish of building an accessible WordPress site that both shares static information and moves multiple types of users through complex guided application processes in a personalized customer portal.

The case study presentation will cover accessibility in every project phase, including:

  • User journey mapping.
  • Design of both the front-end website and customer portal.
  • Development, including discussions of what was custom coded vs what was implemented with a plugin and accessibility remediation required of selected plugins.
  • Testing, including the process of testing with individuals who are blind.
  • Launch and post-launch.

Practical Skills

  • How to include accessibility at every phase of a project.
  • Ways to find native screen reader users for testing and how to run user testing sessions.
  • Specific considerations for developing accessible WordPress websites.