Why A.I. Will Not Solve Website Accessibility Issues Any Time Soon
Don’t be fooled by artificial intelligence technology solutions when it comes to web accessibility. As businesses are hit with lawsuits regarding inaccessible websites, many are pressured to find easy ways to combat the issue. However, A.I. tools and accessibility overlays are not the answer, as many disabled customers have run into site errors because of these types of quick-fix tools.
Over the past couple of years, there has been a boom in A.I. technology that claims to solve website barriers and accessibility issues. However, these supposed “solutions” fail to address accessibility issues in the source code, which means many blind or low-vision visitors are unable to navigate and access the information they need using screen reading software such as JAWS, NVDA, or Apple’s IOS VoiceOver. As a result, your business loses valuable customers and becomes vulnerable to potential lawsuits, copycat cases, or other costly repercussions.
There has been a landslide of litigation under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Last year, more than 400 companies with an accessibility overlay on their website were sued over accessibility, according to data gathered by UsableNet.
Read our related blog: Why You Shouldn’t Use Accessibility Overlay Solutions
AI-powered tools use an algorithm to crawl the site and identify accessibility errors and then overwrite them using an overlay. However, people with disabilities and experts such as EcomBack that test for web accessibility problems claim automated systems and A.I. can only go so far.
When Patrick Perdue, a radio enthusiast who is blind, went on a website to buy equipment, the page was reformatted thanks to a not-so-helpful overlay (provided by accessiBe), hiding the checkout and shopping cart buttons from his screen reader, per a New York Times article.
AccessiBe has been under fire for its overlay product and has since been banned from The National Federation of the Blind’s convention. The Board accused the company of “scornfully” dismissing “the concerns blind people have about its products and its approach to accessibility,” the NFB wrote in an official statement.
Picture Credits: @NFB_voice on Twitter
Disability rights advocates claim that companies that provide accessibility widgets like accessiBe, AudioEye, and UserWay have all been proven as faulty and promise way more than they deliver.
Over 700 accessibility advocates and web developers have signed an Overlay Fact-Sheet letter calling on organizations to stop using these tools as the tools themselves have accessibility problems, and the features are “largely overstated.”
Accessibility experts prefer that companies not use automated accessibility overlays but instead hire trained professionals to oversee these efforts.
The Humans at EcomBack are Your Answer
At EcomBack, our expert team of ADA consultants can provide you with a 7-point plan to address the issues on your website.
We implement the best ADA compliance strategy with a comprehensive full accessibility audit, remediation, and lawyer-drafted accessibility statement, as well as training for your employees and a team of disabled and blind website testers specially trained in accessibility, equitable use, and universal design.