Web Accessibility Overlays: True Fix or False Pretense?
With the increased number of accessibility lawsuits for inaccessible websites, it's no wonder that offers for quick fixes are a hot commodity. Unfortunately, the saying, “You get what you pay for” may apply to accessibility overlay solutions.
So, what do you do? First, let’s take look at how quick-fix web accessibility overlay solutions actually work.
What are Web Accessibility Overlays?
- It depends on what’s wrong on your page.
Are Accessibility Overlays for You?
With all the depends-on-this and depends-on-that scenarios that can come up, we can’t say definitively one way or the other. Therefore, we are going to walk you through a process where you can decide what’s best for your site.
The following four-step process sounds simple, but in the long run, it might not be. It’s the nature of the beast.
- Find the issue
- Identify the required fix
- Implement a solution
- Test the solution
1. Find the Issue.
The short description of this step is to conduct an audit, using both automated tools and manual testing. If you don’t have the in-house skills to identify all your potential issues, Promet Source is here to help.
Common web page accessibility issues that can be caught by automated testing include:
- Missing Alt text for images
- Insufficient color contrast
- Label issues in your forms (there are other types of form issues as well)
- Incorrect application of headings
- Missing titles for iFrames
- HTML elements are missing landmark roles
Other issues that are better identified with manual testing include:
- Insufficient alternative text for images
- Lists that are not coded as lists
- Attached non-web content, such as PDFs, are not accessible for one or many reasons
- Missing media captions and/or transcripts
2. Identify the Required Fix.
So, how do you fix the issues? As you can imagine, given the list above, not all fixes are code based. Let’s look at a few examples.
3. Implement a Solution.
Fix the source code or go with an Accessible Overlay solution. This is where a couple more “depends-on” questions come into play.
- Depends on your plans for updating your site.
This is where things can get complicated. Not all systems allow you access to resolve the issue. Therefore, you might have to switch to a system that supports accessibility or allows you to make the appropriate changes.
4. Test the Solution.
So, test, test, test. And then, keep watch.
Next, remember that new accessibility issues can creep up over time. For instance:
- Content author introduces a data table in a blog post that is not accessible.
- Functionality from an external source changes, and not for the good.
- A security patch is applied and it’s just enough to confuse the overlay you have in place.
Continued monitoring is a must when dealing with quick-fix solutions.
Accessibility overlays can serve a purpose. However, before you commit to an overlay solution, perform a cost-benefit analysis.
- Is the cost of obtaining a quick fix higher or lower than the cost to fix the source?
- Is the cost of monitoring and reapplying the overlay solution less costly than fixing the source?
- Is the cost of a lawsuit for an inaccessible page, where your overlay solution has stopped working, worth the quick fix?
At Promet Source, we are serious and passionate about accessibility. We’re here to help you evaluate your options and make decisions that are sustainable and strategically sound. Contact us today.