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Overlay Accessibility Apps Aren’t Really Accessible
Overlay solutions are automated software programs that, in a nutshell, add a layer to the site to address only a tiny percentage of accessibility issues. They simply “fix” the easy stuff while omitting essential components, making it impossible to claim that your website is ADA compliant.
In this age of social media, some websites have introduced quick fixes to solve a variety of problems. These quick treatments are typically referred to as an “accessibility button,” which can only be accessed by some disabled people who have to locate and activate the app.
The button opens a toolbar that contains features such as text adjustments (size, spacing, alignment), color (contrast, saturation, monochrome), cursor adjustments, magnification, and a screen reader. Artificial Intelligence is used in a few accessibility buttons to interpret pictures and add automatically generated descriptive tags to them. However, the actual user of a screen reader seldom benefits from this technology.
Accessibility Button Is Not the Solution to ADA Compliance
When running a simple automated test using WAVE and Google Lighthouse, you can clearly see that the button is essentially a band-aid loosely covering the site and not actually solving all accessibility errors. In fact, overlays miss 70% of WCAG issues.
Aside from the legal concerns, overlays might present barriers for persons with impairments in how they experience a website. For instance, there are many ADA errors that are ignored by accessibility overlay tools. This includes the absence of headings or headings that aren’t properly coded, missing alternative text on images, no labels on form fields, lack of submit button, among others.
Overlays don’t actually address accessibility concerns in the source code, so people with impairments may still be unable to access information on the site at an equal level as everyone else. Overlays also do not take into account the needs of users who rely on assistive technology. Users that use assistive technology already have their devices and browsers set to their preferred settings. Sometimes, overlays cause these configurations to be ignored and force them to utilize the overlay instead.
Overlay tools may also have a negative impact on the performance of your site. Because overlays are frequently hosted on a third-party vendor’s server, if the overlay script is sluggish to load, you will have no control over it. Even custom overlay solutions lack flexibility and might break during routine site maintenance. One little modification on your website has the potential to affect the whole overlay.
When you combine all these issues together, it’s easy to see why we don’t recommend any overlay solutions. All in all, overlays create a negative user experience, alienate this portion of your user base, and result in negative brand perception and potential revenue loss. By utilizing overlays, you are providing persons with disabilities with a web experience that is less useful, which is directly opposed to the goals of digital inclusion.
Have an Accessible Website by using EcomBack’s ADA Compliant Website Services
EcomBack has a 7-step strategy to address the accessibility concerns on your website with the goal of avoiding future lawsuits.
After meeting with your company and discussing the best approach, our team of ADA consultants starts with a comprehensive audit to identify urgent problems, alerts, color contrast, media, video captions, ARIA, page flow, and more. We also provide an Accessibility Statement and ADA training for your employees.
Related Blogs to Read:
- Why You Shouldn’t Use Accessibility Overlay Solutions
- How Do I Test My Website for ADA and WCAG Compliance Using Wave and Google Lighthouse?
- Website ADA Accessibility – EcomBack’s Method for Compliance
- How to Fight an ADA Website E-commerce Lawsuit
- ADA Compliance is Important for E-commerce Websites
- How to Make Your Shopify Website ADA-Compliant