Fix the accessibility of your Genesis responsive menu

The Genesis Framework is my favorite tool to build a WordPress website. And with the next update (version 2.2) a lot of accessibility features and fixes will be added. But a framework is no child theme.
The HTML5 themes you can purchase with StudioPress have a beautiful responsive menu for the primary navigation. And that menu is completely inaccessible for keyboard and screen reader users.

What’s wrong?

The HTML code to show the responsive menu is:

 <div class="responsive-menu-icon"></div>

A div is not focusable, if you tab though a page the menu is skipped and you have no way to open it, only by using a mouse. And also the div is an empty container, with no content.

What needs to be changed?

  1. Change the <div> to a <button>, a button is focusable and clickable
  2. Add some text inside the  <button></button> to tell a screen reader user what the button is about. You can make this visibly hidden by using the screen-reader-text class
  3. Tell a screen reader user if the menu is open or closed by adding dynamically aria-expanded=”false” or aria-expanded=”true”

How can you do that?

The Genesis child themes use js/responsive-menu.js (GitHub) to show the responsive menu.
Change this JavaScript into for example:

jQuery(function( $ ){

 $(".nav-primary .genesis-nav-menu").addClass("responsive-menu").before('<button class="responsive-menu-icon" aria-expanded="false"><span class="screen-reader-text">Menu</span></button>');

 $(".responsive-menu-icon").click(function(){
 var _this = $( this );
 _this.attr( 'aria-expanded', _this.attr( 'aria-expanded' ) === 'false' ? 'true' : 'false' );
 $(this).next("header .genesis-nav-menu, .nav-primary .genesis-nav-menu").slideToggle();
 });

 $(window).resize(function(){
 if(window.innerWidth > 768) {
 $("header .genesis-nav-menu, .nav-primary .genesis-nav-menu, nav .sub-menu").removeAttr("style");
 $(".responsive-menu > .menu-item").removeClass("menu-open");
 }
 });

 $(".responsive-menu > .menu-item").click(function(event){
 if (event.target !== this)
 return;
 $(this).find(".sub-menu:first").slideToggle(function() {
 $(this).parent().toggleClass("menu-open");
 });
 });

});

See an other accessible example of an Accessible Genesis responsive-menu.js at GitHub. With the visual text “Menu” (I hate hamburgers) and a leading heading.

You have to add the screen-reader-text class and maybe change the CSS .responsive-menu-icon to style the button so it fits your theme.

So: by changing a few lines of JavaScript and adding a few lines of CSS you turn your responsive menu into a perfectly accessible awesome responsive menu.

Discussion

Yes, this is a quick and dirty fix. There’s now untranslatable hardcoded text in the JavaScript, this could be done way better and cleaner. But you’ve got the picture of what needs to be changed. If you are a JavaScript pro: all help is welcome 🙂

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For my work I build sites for blind people. They use a braille line and screen reader to read and navigate a website. During the development of those websites I learned that blind people read a web page differently than I do.

Blind web users read a page linearly and depend on headings and links to navigate.

This changed the way I build site dramatically, I changed from visual coding to story telling coding. Continue reading “Storytelling in HTML: practical accessibility”

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