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From left to right: Thomas Koschwitz, Anne-Mieke Bovelett and Jakob Trost. All three are wearing dark gray sweatshirts with a white version of the GREYD logo.

The journey of making GREYD theme accessibility-ready

This is the first article in a series about steps and wins in our joined accessibility journey

Our shared goal is to encourage others to start this journey too. Perfect is the enemy of good. There is power in just getting started, and counting your wins along the way. Digital accessibility is still overwhelming to many. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s a shared responsibility. 

How it started

A contact request from Thomas Koschwitz on LinkedIn, a year ago, marked the start of our accessibility love affair. He showed me their theme and integrated tools, the GREYD.Hub and its multisite connector, and I was impressed. Especially by the functionality of the multisite connector, which saves agencies tons of time and money.

However, the idea of switching to porting a design using Gutenberg and custom blocks didn’t appeal to me at all! For the simple reason that I have been a hardcore spoiled Elementor user for years. And although it takes jumping through hoops a DIY (Do It Yourself) non-coder can’t even fathom, you can make an Elementor-based website accessible. 

I dream of WordPress themes and funky blocks that are technically accessibility-ready

The only factor that would possibly convince me to work with a block theme would be technical proof that it’s accessibility-ready. And so I served Thomas my one million dollar question: Does this generate clean output for technical accessibility of the site, and if it doesn’t, would you be willing to do something about it?

Instead of trying to throw a smoke screen or coming up with irrelevant arguments (I usually get those a lot), Thomas responded with plain honesty. He said he did not know. He started asking me questions about it, explained that no one ever pointed this out before. I gave him a number of examples, and showed him the difference between shitty keyboard navigation and great keyboard navigation.

Needless to say, he also got my passionate motivational speech about the importance of digital accessibility. Because, besides it being the right thing to do, it’s commercial madness to create inaccessible digital products

Things sped up from there

Soon after, we met at WordCamp Europe in Porto, met again at WordCamp Netherlands, and stayed in touch.

Thomas challenged me to start working with GREYD theme, and as such, with the block editor. At first, that was hard. Not because the block editor is hard to use, it’s straightforward, actually. Making the switch was hard for me, coming from Elementor, which offers a completely visual editor. But now the Block Editor has become such a natural and logical tool to work with, that I have added it to the list of trainings I give.

How it’s going

This site has been relaunched last week and was built with GREYD.SUITE. The development team, led by Jakob Trost, has worked hard to iron out the majority of accessibility issues under the hood. We’re not quite there yet, but that’s ok. I know I am repeating myself, but perfect is the enemy of good!

What’s next?

From here on, I’m publicly sharing the journey of making the theme and Blocks output fully accessible. It’s a work in progress. Follow me on LinkedIn, Mastodon or Twitter to get updates and news about the progress! We will share every win and every obstacle we run into.

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