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Joomla 4.1: Accessibility is just a click away!

| Gianluca Gabella | Joomla!
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On 15 February 2022, version 4.1 of Joomla! was released and introduced a lot of interesting new features, let's see how the accessibility of your website is now handled.

What's new in version 4.1 of Joomla!

This version had been in the air for weeks and many of us had been waiting for its arrival, because the new features introduced are many and they are all very useful. Here is an overview:

  • Scheduled Tasks: it is now possible to schedule automatic tasks that will be executed every so often. Until now, all scheduled tasks were handled by CRON JOBs (i.e. tasks that were carried out by the server/hosting) at regular intervals, but not all hosts provide the possibility of setting these JOBs. This component allows you to execute certain tasks and have them activated as soon as a user arrives on the site. It will not give us the accuracy to the second of when the task will be executed, but it will be a good approximation (especially on high-traffic sites). The new administration component can be found in the "system" view under the "Manage" column.:

    task pianificati

  • Child Templates: the question of "child templates" probably deserves a separate post. Briefly, we can say that it is now possible to create 'clones' of your site's template so that you can edit template files without the risk of losing these changes at the next update. Those familiar with Wordpress already know what this is all about. Some frameworks such as Yootheme already had this option for months, but welcome for all other templates too!

    How to create a child template in Joomla 4.1?

    Very simple: go inside your template (click left menu -> system -> Site Template -> TEMPLATENAME) and at the top left click on "Create Child Template", give it a name (like "test") and then click on "Create Child Template" again.
    Returning to the list of your site's templates, you will have both the main template and the "child", which you can edit as you wish:

    template figli

Joomla 4 and accessibility: how to use the new "Additional Accessibility Functions" and "Joomla Accessibility Checker" tools

Today more than ever, it is necessary and proper to make one's own website accessible. EVERYONE must be able to consult it, and those who find it difficult to do so using the traditional method must be helped as much as possible. The web belongs to everyone, no one must remain excluded.

This is why Joomla has integrated two very powerful tools into the core.

To enable them we go to the plugins section of the site and search for the word "access" (because one of the two is still in English, this way we get both):

access plugin

The first one we are going to look at is the one called 'System - Joomla Accessibility Checker'.

How to activate and use the tool that checks the accessibility level of a Joomla site

To activate it, simply place the green tick next to it (as for all extensions/articles). To configure it, just click on the name of the plugin. Here is what we find inside:

accesibility checker joomla4

The first parameter asks whether to always display the check mark in the frontend. I recommend activating this only when the site is being created, otherwise every user will be notified of any errors.

The second and third are used to tell the plugin which area of the site to check. Usually main is the default and is more or less always OK.

The fourth field asks you to indicate any zones of the site to be ignored: any errors in these zones (marked by class or ID) will be ignored.

Once the plugin has been activated and the "Show Always" field set to "On", we reload our site in the frontend.

A sticker will appear in the bottom right-hand corner which, if clicked, will show any errors:

accessibility check frontend

Per fare un test ho inserito nell'articolo un'immagine senza l'alt text (che è necessario per gli screen reader e altri tool di lettura per non vedenti o ipovedenti). Anche se nel bollino c'è una spunta verde (non so come mai, forse è ancora da sistemare questa feature) nel testo il problema all'immagine viene correttamente segnalato:

missing alt text

This way you have an eye on all the accessibility issues of your site and can go and correct them one by one. Fantastic!

How to activate 'additional accessibility functions' in Joomla 4.1

The second accessibility tool introduced with Joomla 4.1 concerns additional functionality in the frontend.

To activate them just go to plugins and search for "accessibility" and activate the plugin by making the green tick appear.

Within the plugin you can select where to make the tick appear: frontend, backend or both.

We select 'frontend' or 'both' and update our website. An icon will appear in the bottom left-hand corner; clicking on it will bring up a menu:

menu accessibilita

Clicking on the various entries will change your site accordingly, giving users the opportunity to edit it as they see fit. The function that automatically reads the text is also very useful.

Here is an example of how the site is modified:

pixed accessibile


I have noticed among the various tests that some features have a bit of a problem. For example, if there are caching systems, these can interfere with the appearance of buttons and/or the choices made (e.g. the button is not reloaded after making a choice). Also, it seems that the tool that does the accessibility check needs JQuery so you need to check that your template loads it (with Yootheme for example you can disable it and this generates errors).

Good work and happy accessible web to all!

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