Drupal vs. Wordpress re: Accessibility

wggty's picture

Hi All, I'm a total newbie to the group but hoping for a bit of help.

I volunteer with a great non-profit integrated dance organization here in Canada where people with and without disabilities come together to create and perform.

We're looking at a complete website overhaul in the new year and need to choose a CMS. An acquaintance of the organization is most familiar with (and suggesting) Drupal due to accessibility for people with disabilities.

Admittedly, all of my recent web experience involves Wordpress and I'm still fairly new to creating accessible websites, so the Drupal suggestion is out of my comfort zone. I've looked for some side-by-side accessibility comparisons of Drupal and Wordpress but have come up short. Is one truly better than the other re: accessibility?

Aside from better serving web visitors (people with and without disabilities, ratio of those users still TBD), goals of the new site are to re-claim the ability to make web updates ourselves (mainly text and imagery), facilitate more integrations (class registration with fee payments, database integration, events calendars, etc), and update the aesthetic appeal (while still gaining usability).

We have a very limited budget and need to make sure we're maximizing resources.

If anyone has any recommendations or resources to point to, I'd be forever grateful.



Dave Best's picture

My experience is that Drupal offers a greater flexibility for implementing accessibility features, but tends to be more complex to work with, unless you are an experienced Drupal developer. It appears that Drupal 8, when it is released, will have superior accessibility features, but that will really depend upon the developers skills and understanding of accessibility. Wordpress may be simpler to work with, and less costly, but the end result is very messy for screen reader users to navigate. So, you will have to consider your trade offs. Note, this forum uses captcha for making comments that is very annoying for screen reader users.

I dono if one is better then

btopro's picture

I dono if one is better then the other as far as accessibility, I just know that there's a dedicated group of people committed to D7 and especially D8 accessibility. Lots of support for things like Aria in core, you can also find projects in contrib to help out with site accessibility including:


many themes take an accessibility pledge to make their themes as accessible as possible, which then basing your theme off of that framework helps downstream quite a bit (https://drupal.org/node/394094).

We did a presentation on accessibility in D7 and strategies for improving / mitigating issues associated with it which is recorded but not posted yet -- http://drupalcampohio.org/sessions/improving-accessibility-drupal-sites

Thank you for the links

jessebeach's picture

Thank you for the links btopro.

Yes, accessibility is a core component of Drupal's code and the community's ethos. It's my intent to make it THE most accessible CMS. If you are comfortable working with the site building tools, I would choose Drupal for this and many other reasons for example the semantic (RDF) markup support; a wealth of contributed modules; active support and greats docs.

Drupal is More Accessible than Wordpress

mgifford's picture

I've been making that statement for a long time and to a lot of accessibility professionals. Even Word Press folks don't argue this point.

The main difference though comes down to the approach. With Drupal 7 & 8 we've looked at inserting good accessible code by default in the Core. In WordPress you need to download a plugin to correct the mistakes made in the default package.

Joe Dolson's plugin is constantly having to keep up with changes in WordPress and can't begin to fix the accessibility problems provided in popular plugins.

With Drupal, because it leverages API's, a module maintainer doesn't need to know much to have their module be pretty accessible. There are always exceptions, but there are clear examples in Core that we can point to that define the best practice. Because they are in Core, there's really no arguing about what the community has decided is the right way to deal with a particular problem.

There are lots of nice elements too like hidden, invisible and on-focus CSS definitions that really make it simple and consistent for the user behavior to be predictable across all browsers and assistive technology.

There is a community in Drupal that identifies problems with accessibility, posts their concerns in a searchable issue queue, and has reason to believe that the the community will take the issue seriously.

Drupal Core's commitment to accessibility is also helping to push other projects like jQuery UI & CKEditor. With the "Proudly found elsewhere" approach we are able to identify problems in common libraries and fix them so that they benefit more than just the Drupal community.

There are quite a few national non-profits for people with disabilities using Drupal at this point. It's a pretty strong endorsement of it's effectiveness for people with disabilities.

I'd really like to see more open source projects emulate Drupal, but I just haven't seen it yet.

Drupal has a slight advantage

lambch's picture

It's very possible to make highly accessible sites in both WordPress and Drupal. Afterall, I chose WordPress for the IDPWD.com.au site.
But this isn't a very complicated website. Content management isn't overly involved and there's not a lot in the site that requires user interaction.
So for the general website visitor, most of their experience is determined by the theme. And any plugins that we do consider using we give a thorough check before adding them in.
(It's very true that there are lots of less-than-awesome WordPress plugins out there.)

The accessibility of administrative pages within the WordPress CMS are mostly okay, but do let themselves down in a few spots. For example - a reliance on a drag-and-drop to order images in a photo gallery, with the keyboard equivalent requiring a need to edit code. (So not a failure of 2.1.1. But I prefer the Drupal way of changing order by providing a select dropdown)

IMO, WordPress provides a more user friendly content editing experience out-of-the-box. An advantage if your content editors are of the less-technical variety, and may be likely to feel overwhelmed by Drupal. Especially by things like Contexts and Panels. So I consider this to be a fair tradeoff for any slight A11y shortcomings.

Where I think Drupal has an advantage is the fact that the administrative pages are themeable, and permissions much more granular. Provided you're willing to put in the effort, can give a higher level of control over the ease of content management task. An advantage if your content editors include people with disability.
And is partly the reason why we chose Drupal for the ndis.gov.au site
(Mike, feel free to add this to your list)
And that's a great point about how modules leverage off APIs that already have A11y taken into account.


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