Bootstrap accessibility plugin: making the popular web development framework better


Bootstrap Accessibility Plugin is an extension for the Bootstrap 3 web development framework that makes many of the components of this library accessible for keyboard and screen reader users. Today we are launching this plugin on Github under the BSD license. We hope that this extension will make it very simple for website developers who use Bootstrap 3 components to provide great user experience for as many users as possible.

If you develop websites or web applications using Bootstrap components and want it to be accessible with a minimal development effort, this accessibility plugin may be the perfect solution. By adding the JavaScript plugin in your Bootstrapped HTML pages, you extend the stock components with an additional mark-up and events without modifying the original Bootstrap code. In doing so, you make those widgets keyboard-navigable and introduce the compatibility with screen reader software used by people who are visually impaired.


This plugin provides enhancements to the Bootstrap 3 components in two areas: keyboard navigation and screen reader compatibility. There are also minor changes to improve color contrast in alert messages.

Keyboard Navigation

For some widgets, like tab panel, carousel, drop-down menu, etc, the onKeyDown event is employed in various places in order to make the desktop-style keyboard navigation possible. This enables someone who does not or cannot use the mouse navigate those components using tab and arrow keys. To further enhance the seamless navigation for keyboard users the plugin manages keyboard focus wherever appropriate.

Compatibility With Screen Readers

Once the plugin is loaded into your page, it will search for any available Bootstrap components and, if found, append the necessary ARIA roles and states to provide the enhanced semantics to those widgets. This is primarily useful for screen readers. Without ARIA mark-up it is difficult for this technology to express the meaning of dynamic elements, such as modeless alerts, tab panels, popup menus, carousels, etc, to users who cannot see the screen.

Color Contrast

We found that the foreground-to-background color contrast ratio for a Bootstrap alert message is too low. To make it easier for users to read, the color contrast has been increased.

Please see the README file for the list of components and more implementation details.

Try it out

If you want to use the Bootstrap Accessibility Plugin in your project, simply include the JavaScript file right after Bootstrap’s JavaScript file. The exact instructions of how to do this can be found in the README.

Also, play around with the live demo of the Bootstrap Accessibility Plugin. For better effect, you may want to get hold of one of the popular screen readers if you would like to immerse yourself into the screen reader user experience. Seeing and hearing how “accessified” widgets work in this demo will help you verify whether the plugin is installed correctly on your website.

We look forward to improvements and suggestions from the community. To learn more about how Bootstrap Accessibility Plugin works, check out our detailed documentation.

To stay in touch with us, follow @PayPalInclusive and submit issues on GitHub.

The Bootstrap Accessibility Plugin was primarily authored by Nawaz Khan ( @mpnkhan ) from the PayPal Accessibility Team. The README file provides the full list of contributors.


Victor Tsaran

Victor currently works as the Sr. Accessibility Program at PayPal helping to ensure the best user experience for all users, including those with disabilities, across company's various web and mobile products.

Prior to joining PayPal, Victor worked at yahoo! where he oversaw companywide local and global accessibility activities (accessibility lab, policies, guidelines and research projects).

Before that he worked as an Accessibility Programmer at BART Group, McLean, Virginia on various consulting contracts ranging from Section 508 testing for federal agencies to adapting proprietary software for businesses.

After having received Bachelors degree in computer science from Temple University, Philadelphia, Victor traveled extensively in South East Asia teaching computers to the visually impaired users of different ages in countries, such as Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Earlier, he co-founded one of the first computer centers for visually impaired students in his home country of Ukraine.

Outside of his job Victor has great passion for jazz guitar and participates in various open source projects.

Victor strongly believes that without a good espresso a day there would be no breakthroughs and innovation in the field of technology!