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James Coltham

  Web Accessibility


Cookie Consent: Usability and Accessibility of WordPress Plug-ins

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James Coltham shares his ongoing accessibility and usability review of WordPress plug-ins.

Note: The EU’s Privacy and Communications Directive, which came into force May 2011, requires that website owners obtain informed consent from visitors before any “not strictly necessary” cookies are stored or retrieved.

Whilst I don’t intend to comment upon the good or bad points of the law itself, I am interested in what implementation of the law may mean for the accessibility and usability of any websites striving to comply. A number of organisations have now implemented a variety of solutions, with fairly mixed results. Importantly, some people have started to raise concerns about potential accessibility and usability issues. Here, then, is a review of some of the WordPress plug-ins I’ve tested. All reviews state the plug-in version so you can see if they’ve been updated since I looked at them.

Worth noting that I’m not going to comment on whether or not each plug-in actually satisfies the legislation. Many take the easier “implied consent” approach and people have differing opinions on this so I’ll leave it up to you to find the solution that best fits your needs. As always, I am not a lawyer! My focus here is on the usability and accessibility of the solutions.

UK Cookie Consent

Version 1.31 – download

This is a nice and simple one – it just adds a thin, dark line to the top of your website, simply stating that “this site uses cookies”, along with two links: one to set a cookie and remove the message, and the other to access more info. You can customise all of these, of course, and although the plug-in automatically creates a default page for more info, you can delete this and redirect users to an alternative page.

There are a couple of accessibility issues – the links come last in the tabbing order and do not change state on focus, so it’s harder for a keyboard user to use the links. I’ve contacted the developer to see if they can fix these.

Image: Cookie Consent bar appears on the title bar of website

Cookie Control

Version 1.5 – download

Civic UK’s Cookie Control plug-in is interesting because you can tailor it to obtain different types of consent, depending on how you wish to comply with the legislation – whether seeking implicit or explicit consent, or just providing info about cookies. You can customise the content and appearance of the message, which pops up in the bottom right or left of your site.

Image: Cookie Control WordPress plug-in

One issue I noticed was that although the pop-up appears when you first arrive on a page, it’s hidden by default on subsequent pages. You have to change it from “implied” consent to “explicit” consent to change this. It also fades away after a few seconds, although you can bring it back by clicking the small icon that remains in the corner at all times – this means that it technically passes WCAG’s timing requirements, and you can increase the time that will elapse before it disappears, if you’re worried.

To read further reviews, read James Coltham's blog at