The MODX team announced in early February that it is working on an accessible MODX Manager Theme, and is turning to crowdfunding to help cover the costs estimated at USD$50.000. Ohio State University already donated USD$25.000 has already been donated by Ohio State University, and at time of publishing the total is over USD$38.000.

So what is it about?

According to a very thorough review of Deque University, there are a number of issues when it comes to accessibility in the MODX Manager. Users of assistive technology, and vision impaired users may have difficulties navigating the manager. By developing a new manager theme, the MODX crew aims to resolve the majority of issues preventing these (and other) groups of people from interacting with the manager on a daily basis. 

The project can be followed on GitHub, and we can see there have already been a number of improvements:

  • A Dashboard Widget has been added that allows increasing/decreasing the font size in the manager
  • The Dyslexie font, which is optimised for people who have dyslexia, can be used in the manager through a toggle on the dashboard
  • ARIA roles and more semantic code (such as proper headings) have been added, mostly to the login page currently
  • Various changes to the design have been made, to increase the contrast among other things
  • The Vertical Navigation plugin is used for a different style of navigating the resource tree.

The styling changes are most obvious to privileged users like myself, so without further ado, here's what the a11y theme looks like as of February 27th. 

MODX Accessibility Theme (as of February 27th, 2015), showing the dashboard.
MODX Accessibility Theme (as of February 27th, 2015), showing the dashboard.

The contrast has definitely been bumped up to eleven, and a lot of visual clutter has been removed. The font seems bigger and heavier, and using the tab button to navigate through links actually works, compared to the standard theme. And, as mentioned there are widgets on the dashboard for the font size and Dislexie font. 

Other things the a11y project will work on

There's currently a list of 27 open issues on the repository, off which 12 are marked for phase one, which presumably means what will be addressed thanks to the crowdfunding campaign. These include making improvements to how the IDs in the resource tree are read to screen readers, how focus is handled when editing resources and improvements related to modals.  

Installing the Accessibility Theme

Installing the Accessibility Theme is pretty straightforward. 

  1. Grab the files from GitHub
  2. Upload the files in the manager directory, to the manager directory of your MODX site. 
  3. In the manager, go to Extras > Installer, and download and install the Vertical Navigation plugin from the MODX Package Provider.
  4. Under System > System Settings, find the manager_theme setting, and set it to a11y-theme

After that, and a quick refresh, you should see the accessibility theme in action. 

If you encounter any issues, or have ideas on how the accessibility theme can be improved, be sure to post a GitHub issue


The accessibility project is looking for another $12K in donations, and in return there are some nice rewards available. These range from getting access to courses on accessibility from Dequeue University and MODX stickers, to forum badges, t-shirts and baseball caps. There are also corporate packages available, which include logo placement on the website, lots of merchandise and at the top tier even a link within the accessibility theme itself. 

There's definitely a lot to gain from this project, both from getting a more accessible experience and the MODX merchandise. You can donate via the sidebar on the a11y website.

Part two of this post, why modmore is not donating to the a11y campaign, has been published on 2015-04-24. Be sure to subscribe to the weekly newsletter below to make sure you don't miss that and other articles on