On Thursday, September 27th, 2012, I wrote this email to the WordPress theme reviewers email list (which is now defunct.)

So, this is my first post to the theme-reviewers list, so I hope I’m proposing this in the best possible place.

I’ve been in a number of discussions with people in the Accessibility and the WordPress communities about the need to improve accessibility in WordPress themes — or, more specifically, improve the ability to locate accessible WordPress themes which have had vetting beyond an authorial claim of accessibility.

I know that the theme review team hardly has the time to review what they already do, let alone add an accessibility review — and as much as I’d like it, I don’t think that we’re ready to impose accessibility as a requirement in order to publish a theme — it wouldn’t be practical or realistic.

I’d like to propose a way to improve the ability to find quality themes by establishing a team, working to a standard set of guidelines, which could review themes in the theme repository after they have been approved. This team would have the mission of assigning or removing accessibility related tags from themes.

This review team, tasked with identifying and labeling accessible themes, would create an imposition that the ‘accessible’ tag and related tags would be controlled. Authors could self label as accessible, but if it didn’t meet review, the tag could be removed.

At least at this early stage, it could be a pretty straightforward triage:

1) If theme tagged with accessible, a11y, wcag, etc. it gets a review to verify
2) Popular themes should be reviewed.
3) Other themes could be reviewed as time allowed or by request.

I would be happy to head up the process of establishing guidelines for reviewing themes and participate in the review and tagging of themes — or to provide expert assistance to anybody else who wanted to take this on.

Obviously, this is largely my own concept, and can and should be modified to best fit the WordPress theme review workflow; which I’ll admit to being more than a little ignorant about.

I don’t want to create a substantial burden on either theme developers or reviewers, but any incremental progress in improving the ability to identify accessible WordPress themes in a consistent manner would be wonderful.

Joe Dolson
(Accessibility consultant and WordPress plug-in developer)

Seeing this develop over the last 6 1/2 years to the point that today the WordPress theme review announced that accessibility will be phased into the general requirements for the WordPress theme directory is inspiring.

Thank you, members of the theme review team, for everything you do and your willingness to embrace accessibility.