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WPCampus’ Gutenberg Accessibility Audit Finds “Significant and Pervasive Accessibility Problems”

WPCampus has published the results of the Gutenberg accessibility audit the organization commissioned from Tenon, LLC. The audit was crowdfunded by the WordPress community and Matt Mullenweg and Automattic pledged to cover the balance to ensure it would be fully funded.

Tenon’s analysis includes a 329-page technical audit of the editor along with user-based testing that included people with various disabilities.

Tenon’s report includes a 34-page Executive Summary, highlighting key findings from the usability testing and technical review. It’s important to note that the audit was conducted on WordPress version 5.0.3 in January 2019.

As expected, Tenon’s results show that overall the markup generated by Gutenberg is “clean, semantically correct and accessible” but that “Gutenberg’s user experience is consistently poor.

” The audit found that Gutenberg fails to comply with all 30 of the WCAG 2.1 Success Criteria.

Tenon’s Executive Summary concludes that the new editor is a step backwards for people with disabilities:

”Gutenberg has significant and pervasive accessibility problems, the likes of which amount to a step backwards for users with disabilities over the legacy editor. Our user-based testing – backed by data from our technical review – indicates that the accessibility problems are severe in nature. We feel concerned that Gutenberg’s current accessibility issues will prove problematic for website owners who deploy Gutenberg to content creators in protected populations or for website owners who are themselves part of a protected population. Therefore, organizations which have high risk profiles should consult legal counsel before using it and may want to choose to use the legacy editor instead.”

Tenon recommended that Gutenberg’s developers aggressively tackle the issues uncovered in the technical report, given the size of WordPress’ user base.

Tenon has created a collection of 84 issues on GitHub based on the findings in the audit and six of them have already been resolved/closed.