I’ve had the pleasure to contribute code to the last three default WordPress themes. All three have been great themes in my opinion, and all three have tried to tackle a different problem. All three have also served to help educate and inform theme developers of new, different and awesome ways to do things.

Twenty Ten was the first time in years that core developers became theme developers again. Developing it lead to enhancements in the apis mostly used by themes such Custom Headers becoming core code. Twenty Ten has also turned out to stand the test of time, with about fifteen thousands downloads last week alone (and not including all the times it was downloaded bundled with WordPress 3.0 – 3.5).

Twenty Eleven aimed to be responsive, and more of a magazine style. It demonstrated the power of post formats, with seven different ones baked in and included options for both a dark and light color scheme.  As the first default theme to feature responsive design, Twenty Eleven aimed to educate theme developers on simple responsive design and succeeded.

Twenty Twelve took this challenge a step further. Designed “Mobile First”,  It doesn’t scale down to phones, it scales up to the browser. By deciding on the goal from the get go, Twenty Twelve turned out great and it’s source code and the trac discussions that went into building it can now be used to teach developers about the concept of mobile first.

I want Twenty Thirteen to tackle another problem that the education and example of a default theme can do. I want Twenty Thirteen to be designed and built Accessibility First. So what do I mean by “Accessibility First”?

Accessibility First would involve a few decisions to be made upfront:

  • Color choices with high contrast in mind from the start. This is one area that Twenty Twelve barely missed.
  • Color choices with multiple types of color deficiencies in mind since an estimated 10% of all males suffer from some form of color deficiency.
  • Making up for browser deficiencies, specifically the skipnav focus bug in webkit
  • Make sure that the design still looks beautiful when the font size is increased 200%
  • Following the Theme Accessibility Audit Draft Proposal

By making the decision to be accessible upfront, before a single line of code is written or a single sketch is drawn, WordPress can demonstrate to theme developers what they need to do to make sure that every can experience and use a site to it’s fullest.