Government accessibility and the CMS problem

How an open source pilot project is empowering content authors to build a more inclusive world

2 min readMar 1, 2021
Person working with assistive technology
Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

At DrupalCon Europe 2020, CivicActions Senior Strategist Mike Gifford discussed the common barriers to accessibility when authoring content for the web. Both he and co-presenter Susanna Laurin, Chief Research and Innovation Officer at Funka, shared the initiatives that they, along with other industry experts, have started to address with the We4Authors Cluster — a pilot funded by the European Commission to create and implement default accessibility features into authoring tools popular in with member states of the European Union.

The main problem facing web authors is that most Content Management Systems (CMS) expect them to be knowledgeable about accessibility, when the reality is that many of them, including government agents, lack the formal training and technical knowledge to create accessible content. As a Drupal core accessibility maintainer, Mike shared the efforts that have been made within the Drupal community to meet ATAG 2.0 standards, and talked about the areas in which they could be improved. Rebuilding CMS interfaces to be both intuitive and reactive, and then making them publicly available, is the next logical step in helping authors to make accessible content more widespread.

Watch “Top CMS tools are working together to build a more inclusive world” at DrupalCon Europe 2020

“There are going to be huge benefits for the Drupal community. Being a part of [We4Authors] allows us to share problems, ideas, wireframes and even code with other teams … This is a great way for us to learn from each other and test ideas with government authors.” — Mike Gifford


  • 6:09 — Enhancements to Drupal core, and how they help web authors make more accessible content
  • 7:05 — CTA: Help authors discover accessibility tools they didn’t know about
  • 9:31 — EU regulations on accessibility standards
  • 12:12 — Why 50% of accessibility problems are created by web authors, and what we can do about it
  • 13:14 — Reasons to build accessibility tools into the CMS
  • 13:44 — If we could go to the moon, there’s no reason why we can’t make accessible authoring tools
  • 14:59 — If the most popular CMS platforms commit to compliance, others may follow
  • 15:45 — Drupal is the #1 CMS in Europe, and the other leading CMS platforms also have open source licences
  • 17:10 — We4Authors Cluster overview, and its goals
  • 20:23 — Why it’s important to include licensed software in accessibility initiatives
  • 27:37 — How this work could influence e-learning (and LMS platforms, too)
  • 28:52 — Let experts focus on making great content instead of worrying about compliance
  • 42:05 — Tools need to be more accessible so people with disabilities can become web authors themselves


Connect with Mike Gifford