Do Accessibility Overlays Actually Help A Disabled Visitor Successfully Use Your Website? Does It Really Make Your Website ADA Compliant?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

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You may not think about it, but accessibility is the law. If you don't make your website accessible, you can get sued, and you are also leaving out a huge number of potential customers. Accessibility can be a complex topic, but it doesn't have to be. Learn how to make your website accessible to everyone so you can reach more people, and they can reach you. Visit or call (772) 770-4077 ext. 1 to learn more.

It's no secret that there are numerous articles about how "tack-on" accessibility widgets can't protect you against lawsuits. Unfortunately, ignorance of the details does not mean that you are not at risk for a lawsuit against your business or organization. In fact, by adding an accessibility overlay to your website, you could be opening yourself up to litigation as it proves some awareness of the importance of accessibility without the actual effective fulfillment.

However, what we would like to discuss in this article is not just how these tools leave you legally exposed, but the benefits of taking a genuine interest in dealing with accessibility issues. The benefits of making your website accessible to those who are blind, deaf, or have other impairments, are:

  1. You will gain market share - If people find out that your website has been made accessible, then they may choose to use it over another competitor because they know their needs will more likely be met.
  2. Your business will grow - People with disabilities tend to spend money when shopping online. They're looking for products that meet their specific needs, so having them visit your website makes sense.
  3. You can save money - not just from lawsuits, which can cost thousands of dollars, but possibly from rebates offered through programs like Section 508. These programs offer discounts to businesses that comply with certain standards regarding accessibility. Please check with your attorney and/or financial advisor on the specifics.
  4. You'll look good! - Having a well designed and comprehensive website is important, especially if you want potential clients to see you as professional. A poorly designed website looks unprofessional and untrustworthy.
  5. You'll feel better - When you realize that you need to do something to improve accessibility, it feels great knowing that you are helping those around you to access the information and products you provide.
  6. Your website’s ranking on Google may improve! - By properly making your website ADA compliant, your website will typically have more keyword-rich content added to it, describing images, transcribing videos, and more. Google sees these keywords and phrases as very relevant to your business service or mission, and therefore typically increases your ranking on Google search results pages... And the higher the Google rankings, the more potential business you can receive.

So, how do you get started? Initially, we suggest using automated accessibility testing tools as they will help you better understand how a screen reader might read your website. We use one called aXe which is created by Deque. It is an open source accessibility tool that we have found to best help identify potential issues that screen-reading software may encounter. aXe is wonderful, however (and we believe Deque will tell you this as well) no automated accessibility tool is a replacement for manual testing.

So, how can some automated tools like aXe be good, and ADA overlays be bad? The problem lies in the fact that aXe is solely LOOKING for accessibility issues but is not actually fixing the issues. No tool we have tested can actually fix these issues completely. Also, an overlay can sit between the screen reader and the actual user interface of the website; this causes more problems than are solved!

Which brings us to an inevitable conclusion: there are no easy fixes in accessibility. But as a business owner, you likely don't have time to make your WordPress or other CMS website accessible, and you don't want to face legal action either. What should you do?

Well, that's where PD/GO Digital Marketing fits in. We first use the best automated tools, but then we have a blind staff member manually test the websites for ease of use. Simply put, you can't replace real people, including team members with disabilities, with any automatic canned systems. It simply doesn’t work. Only a blind person knows how to use a screen reader properly, as they use them every day. They can identify a real accessibility issue vs. a false positive as accessibility checkers are not perfect. They use desktops as well as a mobile device. Since you cannot rely solely on an accessibility checker, that is why we do manual accessibility testing by a disabled person.

From there, we are constantly refining our accessible template in order to better match the WCAG 2.1 (the current accessibility guidelines) specifications. What does that mean? When you use PD/GO System 4, your website will have a regular version as well as a WCAG 2.1 version that makes it easy for you to manage your website without being an accessibility expert. The accessible version has a different background color and layout, but the same structure and content, to make sure that it keeps up with accessibility rules and requirements.

In conclusion, If you would like to increase your ROI, reach more real users, including disabled users, who could be missing out on your content, and help shield yourself from litigation, schedule a free consultation from PD/GO Digital Marketing today!