Drupal Association blog: GAAD Pledge 2022 – Extending Drupal’s Accessibility

Drupal CMS

Posted on behalf of the Drupal accessibility maintainers.

The Drupal community is again celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) but this time we are excited to also announce that the Drupal CMS has taken the GAAD pledge to formalize accessibility as a core value of our framework. Our commitment to accessibility isn’t new, but we are excited to join React Native and Ember JS, previous GAAD Pledgees, to be a public open source leader in pushing forward accessibility to the community.

Digital accessibility is an important issue because so much of our lives are currently mediated through the internet. Globally, over a billion people have some form of permanent disability. Not all people with disabilities face barriers on the web, but when looking at temporary and situational disabilities, they can affect us all. The Drupal community proudly includes people with disabilities. The million or so Drupal sites serve people with every combination of visual, mobility, auditory, physical, speech and cognitive disabilities.

Drupal has been a leader in CMS accessibility for over a decade. Drupal community events (local and global) have had presentations about WCAG and ATAG for nearly 20 years.

Drupal 7 (2011) embraced WCAG 2.0 for both the front-end and back-end of the interface. This is still uncommon for CMSes. As a blind developer, Everett Zufelt was key to bringing the community onboard with this. Everett led many of the early Drupal 7 discussions and became Core’s first Accessibility Maintainer. We were early adopters of ARIA and added limited implementations to Drupal years before ARIA 1.0 was released. We were one of the first CMSes that tried to build standardized patterns designed explicitly to address common accessibility problems.

Drupal 8 (2014) was one of the first CMSes to adopt ATAG 2.0 to support authors in creating more accessible content. We introduced a means to manage aria-live for dynamic content and control the tab order for keyboard-only users. Drupal made many advances in accessibility such as improvements to form errors and requiring image alt text. This release also benefited from the work of Vincenzo Rubano, a blind Italian student who contributed to Drupal Core. In this release we also took on broader adoption of ARIA and started deploying elements of WCAG 2.1.

There is a lot more in the works for Drupal 9 and 10. Drupal 9 saw the introduction of two new accessible themes, Claro and Olivero. Olivero is now our default theme, and named in memory of Rachel Olivero, a stand-out member of the Drupal Diversity and Inclusion community. Rachel, a blind user, also worked with the NFB (National Federation of the Blind) on building their web platform on Drupal. The NFB was generous enough to review this new Drupal theme prior to release.

Drupal was one of the CMSes represented in the We4Authors Cluster, with other CMSes used by governments in the European Union. Drupal is also looking ahead at WCAG 2.2 and WCAG 3.0, with one of our Accessibility Maintainers actively involved in the Working Groups for these guidelines.

We have done a lot, but accessibility is a journey. As long as Drupal continues evolving to keep up with ever emerging internet and accessibility technologies, there will be more to do.

Our 2022 Pledge

Accessibility is a core value of the Drupal CMS, all Drupal websites, and our events (Our community embraces accessibility).
In 2022 we will formally upgrade our standards to WCAG 2.1 AA (Our community process and project governance will continue to align with the latest recommended release of the WCAG guidelines).
We will publish a new coding standards document to clarify our accessibility practices (Accessibility isn’t currently in our coding standards).
Our documentation will be updated to ensure that it includes current best practices (Updating documentation is something that always needs to be done).
We will continue tracking accessibility issues for all Drupal.org projects and tagging them for transparency.

How You Can Help

We also invite everyone to help make Drupal a more accessible framework. There are lots of ways to get involved! Here are a few ideas:

Download the latest version (ideally the Git release) and test for accessibility. This could just be using SimplyTest.me.
Contribute accessibility bugs that you find back into the Drupal issue queue. Make sure to tag them with “accessibility” and ensure that you have included how to replicate the barrier.
Review the modules you are using in your site and contribute where you can to make them more robust and inclusive. Remember to tag those issues with “accessibility” as well.
Look through the We4Authors Cluster suggestions and see if there are opportunities to improve the support we are able to provide to authors.
Provide feedback to the team by joining the #accessibility channel on the Drupal Slack.

Today we reaffirm our commitment to accessibility by taking the GAAD Pledge. As we continually improve Drupal, accessibility will be a core part of what we do.