I have previously written about why you should use an accessible theme. But how do you find an accessible WordPress theme?
When searching for a free WordPress theme I always recommend WordPress.org. This is because all the themes in the official theme directory are carefully reviewed for security issues and code errors.
All themes from WordPress.org that are labeled as accessibility-ready are also checked for a number of accessibility issues.
If you are using WordPress.com, they also have a small numer of themes that are accessible.
A possible downside to these free themes is that the support is sometimes limited. If you want to make sure that the theme provider is offering support and is available to answer your questions, considering buying a theme with a support package instead.
Accessible themes on WordPress.org
You can search for a new theme directly from the Add Themes screen in the admin area of your WordPress installation.
The search functionality is the same in the WordPress admin area and in the WordPress.org theme directory on https://wordpress.org/themes/.
In your admin area, go to Appearance > Themes, and select the Add New button:
On this page, select the Feature Filter button to show the lists of filterable features. The features are listed in 3 categories: Subject, Features, and Layout.
The Accessibility Ready feature is the first option in the second column, under Features:
To show all the accessible themes, check the box next to Accessibility Ready and then select the Apply Filters button.
Caveats and limitations of the WordPress.org theme search
You can combine filters to search for themes that better matches your criteria. But the more filters you add the fewer results will be generated.
For example, if you combine Entertainment with Accessibility Ready and Three Columns, only two themes will show up in the search result. My recommendation is to only use the Accessibility Ready filter.
The search only finds themes that have been updated within the last two years. This is a feature that is built into the search to prevent that themes that are older than two years are installed and breaks your site.
This is a good thing, but for the accessible themes unfortunately it means that fewer themes will be listed.
If you are a theme developer, please keep your theme updated. Even if you don’t need to make any changes to the theme, please keep it updated to assure that it shows up in the search results.
Finding accessible themes on WordPress.com
If you have a WordPress.com business plan, you can upload and install any theme that you want. I will be focusing on free themes that can be installed with or without a business plan.
Log in to your account, select your site and go to Personalize > Customize, and select the Themes button:
Select the Feature button to the left:
In my example, the form remembers my previous searches and the Accessibility Ready filter shows up as the first alternative.
If you can not find Accessibility Ready in the 5 selected filters, select Show all.
Optionally, write accessibility in the search form, after the word feature.
There are 33 accessible themes on WordPress.com but only ten of them are free. Besides the official themes, these free themes are:
Finding accessible themes on ThemeForest
On the ThemeForest marketplace, they don’t use the feature filter in the same way. Unfortunately, after entering the site and selecting WordPress, you will not find accessibility in the list of categories or tags.
I wish that such a large marketplace would make accessibility one of their priorities, but it is not the case.
In fact, when a theme is submitted to be sold on ThemeForest, the staff does not confirm if the theme is accessible. Even if the theme author claims that it is. So in contrast to WordPress.org and WordPress.com, the accessibility is not tested.
It is completely up to the buyer to check if the theme is accessible or not.
To find an accessible theme on ThemeForest you can search for different terms such as accessibility (218 search results) and accessible (214 search results).
When searching for more specific terms like screen reader, or accessibility ready, the results become more inaccurate. The search uses individual words and not your entire phrase.
In this post I have written about how you can find an accessible theme on three marketplaces, free or payed. WordPress.org has a larger number of accessibility ready themes than WordPress.com. ThemeForest has the largest number of themes, but the ThemeForest staff does not test if the themes are accessible.
Therefor my recommendation is to search for a theme on WordPress.org.